The wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis L., 1753) is an annual herbaceous plant from Europe, the Brassicacee family, which reaches 70-80 cm in height.
Systematically speaking, wild mustard belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Capparales Order, the Brassicaceae Family and then the Genus Sinapis and the Species S. arvensis.
The name of the genus derives from the Greek “synápi”, but its origin is Egyptian or Indian; The specific epithet means plowed fields and indicates the preferred habitat.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Wild mustard originates from the Mediterranean basin, although its diffusion is such that it is not known with certainty. Today it grows all over Europe, even in southern Siberia, except in the northeastern regions, in Asia Minor and North Africa. In North and South America is naturalized. It is spread in practice in all temperate regions of the invasive planet in some areas of North America; In Italy grows in the fields and in the mines, from 0 to 1400 m. S.l.m .. It is a Mediterranean entity in the narrow sense (with a limited area on the Mediterranean coast and the Olive Growth Area).
Its presence is indicative of limestone, clayey, limestone and humus. It is often widespread in cereal fields, stony soils, mines, on the edge of roads, or in uninhabited places. Mustard reproduces only by seed and every plant can produce 200 ÷ 2,000; These remain vital in the ground up to 50 years.
With the name of wild mustard it is commonly referred to as the synapis arvensis variety, very common in our territory. Other species gathered under the definition of sinapis are the sinapis alba, the sinapis nigra (also brassica nigra). Very similar are two other species, namely Brassica incana and Brassica fruticulosa.
The Sinapis arvensis is a herbaceous, polymorphic plant, with a very widespread radical structure; Erect or ascending blades, shavings or glabrous, streaked and ramified; Height generally between 30 ÷ 90 cm, but up to 120 cm in fertile soils. The mustard leaves are basal with long petioles, oval, lanceolate, with ± incised margin, often loose, 2 to 5 cm long 4 to 18 cm long with lobed ovate lobe; Caulis with a short petiole or subsessili, are whole, ovate or lanceolate with a toothed margin and sharp, progressively reduced apice; All of them are dark green, opaque and rugged.
The flowers, which are at the apex of the stems, are of yellow to symmetry dimera, they have a chalk placed on the horizontal plane. It has yellow or green sepals, tightly oblong, while yellow petals are obliterated.
As far as fruits are concerned, these are silique erect or erect-patents, generally curved to form scissors, of 25 ÷ 40 x 1.5-3 mm, turbulent, with a valve of 12 ÷ 35 mm, glabrous or sometimes with short, short hair And reflections, 8 ÷ 12 mm straight and conical rostrum. Seeds 4 ÷ 8 for locus of 1 ÷ 1.5 mm, globose, brown or blackish.
The mustard root is short, thin, and white.
The leaves of this species are petioles with a length varying from 1 to 4 cm; The basal ones have oblong, oval, lanceolate, loose, pinnafite or indivise and toothed flaps; they are 2-5 cm wide 4-18 cm long; The terminal lobe is largely ovate, obovate, elliptical, with a toothed margin; The lateral lobes are 1-4. The cauliflower leaves are slightly petioles with oval leaf or lanceolate leaf often indivisible, toothed or subtended edge and acute apex.
Mustard inforescence is a racemate with yellow or green seams, closely oblong, long 5-6 mm wide 1-1.8 mm, petals of pale yellow or lighter, oboji, wide 0.9-1.2 Cm 4-6 mm long. Long 4-6 mm long anthers oblong.
The fruit of the Sinapis arvensis is a siliqua, ascending or suberette mostly curved, pitted, glabra rarely pubescent, wide 1,5-3 cm, and long 2-4,5 cm, containing on average 4-8 seeds, the two valves They present 3-5 veins, turbulent, worn, with a beak of 0.8-1.2 cm of conical and subdued shape.
Finally, the seeds of this species are black-brown, globose, of 1.5-2 mm in diameter, finely crosslinked.
Its cultivation takes place both for seed harvesting and then to be processed for food purposes, but also as a mulch and mulching plant, or it interrupts it to maintain or increase fertility of the soil due to its rapid growth.
If we want to cultivate it for food production, then before sowing we have to prepare the soil thoroughly with good plowing and fertilization, preferably organic. Subsequently you will need to do the trenching and then two or three weeding with the contemporary cut of the highest flowers, which will not be able to turn into fruit time.
The multiplication of mustard is mainly done by seed: sow at the beginning of the spring directly at home or in containers as described above. The main varieties of mustard that are cultivated are white mustard, black mustard and wild mustard. The name of the first two varieties is due to the color they assume their branches. Wild mustard is the species with the most delicate flavor and aroma but the slightly more rustic growth.
Mustard cultivates in very sunny areas, does not like shade; This plant dies at the arrival of the cold, then it is to dwell at the beginning of spring, to harvest seeds at the end of summer; Small seeds can be stored immediately, or stored in hermetically sealed containers after they are well-dried.
Mustard is sown when in late spring, when the night temperatures do not go below 10 ° C. It is best to seed the sinapis arvensis in small containers such as seedlings or honeycomb containers and jars to facilitate the first stage of growth. Subsequently, the mustard transplantation will be carried out to interbreed and continue cultivation.
As for the choice of soil, it is recalled, as previously mentioned, that it prefers limestone, clayey, limestone and sufficient organic matter.
Let’s remember to water the mustard only in case of long periods of drought, usually these plants are content with rainfall.
The mustard parts used are the seeds, which are harvested in September, then dried and then crushed and ground for further processing.
Mustard harvesting must take place before the fruits reach maturity because they will then open, releasing the seeds on the ground. For this operation, the combine harvesters are used, which take the slices leaving the rest of the plant on the ground with the overlay function.
Subsequently the seeds are placed in the sun with the dual aim of bringing them to ripening and drying them.
Lastly, it is remembered that it can be cultivated as annual (for picking leaves) or as a biennial (for seeds).
Regarding the adversity of mustard, it is to be noted that aphids often destroy buds and flower buds, compromising seed production. Bad climatic crop conditions can often ruin the plant and induce a decay that facilitates the attack of parasites and the intake of diseases.
It is a generally resistant plant, but over time, due to intensive cultivation in some areas, some pathogens have proved insidious.
In particular, the brown mustard is sensitive to the ojio, especially at the end of spring and early autumn. We always choose a well ventilated and open position, avoiding as much as possible to wet the leaves during irrigation.
The small seedlings and the base of the adult ones are very appealing to snails and slime. We create barriers with ashes, egg shells or sand. Useful are the traps of beer. Another enemy is the alticin, beetles that affect especially the Brassicaceae. They cause holes on the leaves that can debilitate the plant. The ideal is to protect specimens with very thick knit nets.
Uses and Traditions –
The seeds of this species contain complex glycosides: sinaphacin and sinigrin, which give the particular taste of mustard, while the leaves contain low amounts of ascorbic acid.
The characteristic smell and flavor of mustard is given by the presence of the synigrin glucoside, which is disrupted by the presence of oxygen (hence only if it is cut or chewed) by the mirosin enzyme producing isotiacianate of allyl and diallyl sulphide as well as glucose. There is also a presence of fixed oil containing oleic, rapic, stearic, linoleic, and arachidic acid. Pentosane, mucilages, gums and salts complement the composition of the mustard complex.
Mustard seeds have, as mentioned, a pungent flavor that, in addition to identifying it absolutely, also give it digestive properties if taken in moderate amounts as they increase gastric secretion. This action, if it happens before it has ingested food, instead, will develop a certain languorino in the person, stimulating hunger.
Mustard also has a strong revolting power, to be irritating and swollen.
In the past, cataplasmas were used with mustard flour to treat acute bronchitis and bronchopneumonia, but also tingling and sciatica. However, this practice has long been abandoned because of the great irritation of the epidermis.
In Italy, cases of herbal products with mustard are very rare. You can find some German import senapisms, where they are still found, but with the risk of skin irritation it is preferable to orient yourself to other plants. Diffuse and easy to find are basic food products such as mustard.
Among the contraindications, remember not to use mustard in the presence of circulatory, varicose, and vascular disorders in general.
Among the warnings, remember that the senapisms, left too long on the skin, lead to the formation of bubbles and purulent ulcerations of difficult scarring.
The leaves of the wild mustard are edible at the juvenile stage of the plant. In animal feed, excluding birds, seeds are toxic and cause gastrointestinal problems especially if consumed in large quantities.
For outdoor use Senape is indicated in case of rheumatism and respiratory and pedestrian affections.
The young leaves can be used as a salad dressing to which they add a spicy flavor, or they can be boiled and used like spinach.
The top peaks, before flowering, can be cooked like broccoli, whose flavor also remembers.
The seeds contained in the siliques make it appealing to the most common grazing birds, for which it is a great food.
From the seeds it is possible to obtain an edible oil, also used in the manufacture of soap.
Remember that the Sinapis arvensis is a good mellifera plant.
In North America, Sinapis arvensis, thought to have been introduced by European colonizers about 400 years ago, is one of the most common and abundant wheat pests. However, the use of Mustard is very ancient; It is already found in the Bible.
The Romans were great mustard consumers both as a seasoning for the foods and for the new wine, in which the seeds were pounded and structured.
In 1600 it was suggested to use mustard seeds in the preparation of the courses since it was the best way to exploit its ability to favor digestion.
The medical use of mustard instead has been for centuries that of cataplasmas, called senapisms, to be applied to cure respiratory ventilations, resulting in irritation of skin ulcerations due to particularly irritating active substances.
Linneo called it Synapsi nigra, referring to the name of the ancient Romans, but then another botanist, Koch, baptized her Brassica nigra, using in the name of the Brassica genus, the same as the cabbage. Like this and how saffron, mustard is part of the Crucifer’s Family or Brassicacee.
Abroad is known as a mustard, more precisely in English it is called black mustard; In French moutard noire, schwarzer mustard in german and neglected in Spanish.
In all languages the adjective “black” is present to distinguish it from the white mustard, Brassica alba Moench., His close relative.
Preparation Method –
Leaves of all varieties can be collected at any time and should be used as soon as possible in order to preserve all their aroma and freshness. Larger ones can be burned to match with other vegetables or flavor foods such as omelettes or omelettes.
Mustard is known and used for food and medicine since antiquity. The name sauce is very popular all over the world: it is the most consumed after ketchup and mayonnaise. It is used particularly in French, English (and American), but may vary in both appearance and ingredients and in the final, more or less pungent flavor.
Seeds are also widely used in Asian cuisine. Pest in the mortar become an indispensable ingredient for the typical Indian spices melange. They can be sliced whole in the pan and used to flavor vegetables, salads and meats.
They are often an essential element in the preparation of preserves under oil and vinegar (eg cauliflower, cucumber and cabbage). In Japan and Korea you get a very spicy sauce (karashi or yeongyeoja) to accompany soups, ravioli and meat.
In Italy, the mustard (Cremona, Voghera, Mantova, Vicenza) is very famous: it is candied (or reduced in composition) fruit or vegetable flavored with essential oil or spicy mustard powder. It is combined with boiled meat and meats in general, or cheeses. The name mustard (moutarde in French) refers to the grape must, from which aromatised compositions with finely ground seeds have been obtained.
The mustard is also great if used in salads or just scalded.
The particular taste of mustard, as seen, is given by a glucoside called synagrin for black mustard and sinaphine for white mustard: the first one is the one giving the distinctive strong and pungent flavor; The second, however, does not produce a particular taste, but it contributes to giving that feeling of heat typical of spicy foods. Mustard is one of the spices that are used in the kitchen, in particular it is used to condiment fries and sandwiches with wurstel; But also of negligible health effects, although not having a major role in the field of herbal medicine.
Some recommendations and precautions are recommended for the use of this species. Suffice it to think that in dialectal use, mustard is often referred to as “hot” vegetables as it is particularly irritating to urinary tract. For this reason, it should be eaten moderately and not frequently.
Sinapis arvensis leaves and cinnamon may be used in soups or cooked vegetables.
The edged part is made up of leaves, better than the young ones, and is at our disposal in the fields already from the autumn and throughout the spring. Leaves should be boiled and then cooked in a variety of preparations, such as sausage with “cavuliceddi” (cabbage or cavalry).
The cobblestones, in fact, refer more to Brassica fruticulosa and are found for example in the ethnees, as it is a plant that likes siliceous soils. In Sicily, in other areas (like in the lentine) in the absence of the cavuliced species, the other species of mustard are used, but the flavor is not exactly the same.
Another interesting recipe is the omelette with amareddi (brassica incana) and also the pasta (usually short) with synapa (though preferably using the arvensis or dawn varieties).
Finally, it is worth mentioning a particular regional recipe that is called in Sicilian dialect: Sinapi fritti cu ‘l’ovo (Mustard and egg whip)
Let’s see the ingredients:
Mustard (vegetables), eggs, salt, pepper and oil.
Wash and rinse the mustard, boil it with salt water and, when cooked, drain it. In a saucepan, beat the eggs by adding salt, pepper and grated cheese if you like. In a frying pan, warm the oil, pour the mustard, let it flavor a little, and pour the egg mixture together, mixing it all together. Apply the omelette with the spoon of the fried and when it will be well cooked on one side, turn it, helping with a large dish, then finish cooking.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they are not prescription-related in any way; Therefore, no liability is accepted for their use for any aesthetic or food purpose.