Raphanus raphanistrum sativus
The common radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. Sativus (L.) Domin) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Brassicaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
R. raphanistrum species.
Subspecies R. r. sativus.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Raphanistrum gayanum Fisch. & C.A.Mey.;
– Raphanus acanthiformis Morel ex L.Sisley;
– Raphanus caudatus L.;
– Raphanus caudatus L.f.;
– Raphanus chinensis Mill.;
– Raphanus gayanus (Fisch. & C.A.Mey.) G.Don;
– Raphanus indicus Sinskaya;
– Raphanus macropodus H.Lév.;
– Raphanus niger Mill.;
– Raphanus oleifer Steud.;
– Raphanus orbicularis Mill.;
– Raphanus radicula Pers.;
– Raphanus rotundus Mill.;
– Raphanus sativus L.;
– Raphanus sativus subsp. acanthiformis (Morel ex L.Sisley) Stank.;
– Raphanus sativus var. aka-daikon (Kitam.) Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus f. albescens (Makino) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus f. esculentus (Metzg.) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus f. exsuccus (Thell.) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus convar. hybernus (Alef.) Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus var. incarnatus Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus var. lobo Sazonova & Stank.;
– Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus L.H.Bailey;
– Raphanus sativus convar. minowase (Kitam.) Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus subf. niger (Mill.) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus var. niger (Mill.) J.Kern.;
– Raphanus sativus var. nonpinnatus L.H.Bailey;
– Raphanus sativus subf. oleifer (DC.) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus var. parvipinnatus L.H.Bailey;
– Raphanus sativus convar. radicula (Pers.) Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus var. roseus Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus var. rubidus Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus subf. silvester (W.D.J.Koch) M.Hiroe;
– Raphanus sativus subsp. sinensis Sazonova & Stank.;
– Raphanus sativus var. syrengeus Sazonova;
– Raphanus sativus var. virens Sazonova;
– Raphanus sinensis Thunb. ex Pritz.;
– Raphanus stenocarpus Kitag.;
– Raphanus taquetii H.Lév..
The term Raphanus comes from the Greek ῥάφᾰνος ráphanos horseradish, radish, from ῥα rha, contraction of ῥίζα rhiza root, and from the stem of the verb φαίνω phaíno appear: with visible roots.
The specific epithet raphanistrum is the derogatory of the genus Raphanus, horseradish, radish: wild radish.
The name of the subspecies satum is the past participle of sero sowing, planting, then sowing, planting: sowing or planting, cultivated, domesticated.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The radish is a plant of unknown origin, perhaps a fixed hybrid originating from Southeast Asia, with Mediterranean and Cosmopolitan distribution.
The distribution of the spontaneous varieties is however very wide as it is found in Europe, western Asia, boreal Africa and India, Japan and America (the latter three areas probably by naturalization).
In Italy it is common throughout the territory. In the Italian Alps it is found in the following provinces: Bergamo, Bolzano and Belluno.
Outside Italy (still in the Alps) it is found in the following regions: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Isère for France; Valais, Bern, Ticino and Grisons for Switzerland; Vorarlberg, North Tyrol, Carinthia and Styria for Austria.
On the European mountains it is found in the following areas: Jura Massif, Pyrenees and Dinaric Alps.
Its typical habitat is that of the fields, in the presence of crops of other species, vineyards, olive groves, ruderal environments, slopes and obviously specific crops. The preferred substrate is both calcareous and siliceous with neutral pH and high nutritional values of the soil which must be moderately humid.
From the altimetric point of view it is present up to 1000 m a.s.l.
Raphanus raphanistrum sativus is a biennial herbaceous species that can reach a maximum height of one meter, oscillating from a minimum of 20 cm and with an average height of 30 cm.
This root has the characteristic of initially accumulating different quantities of nutrients within it and then being used during the subsequent development of the flower and fruit. This is why the root swells so greatly. The color is usually bright red (but there are many different colored varieties). In wild plants the root tends to regress into a subtle form. While in the cultivated varieties the shape is very varied (round, globose, semi-long, long). The root has dimensions ranging from a width of 0.5 – 45 cm to a length of 1 – 100 cm, also depending on the variety.
It has an erect flower axis with few leaves and the root is of the thickened taproot type with various shapes. The surface in the lower part is scattered with reflected bristles or globular hairs (2 mm long).
The lower leaves (the basal ones) are petiolate, lyrate and divided into segments (usually 7 or more lobes). The terminal (apical) segment is larger and has a round shape; the lateral ones are smaller and have an oval or oblong shape and can be interspersed with other smaller segments. All segments are variously toothed. The upper leaves (progressively reduced) are whole with a lanceolate or oval shape and toothed edges. Petiole length: 1 – 30 cm. Length of the basal leaves 4 – 8 cm. Dimensions of the apical lobe: width 2 – 3 cm; length 2 – 4 cm. Size of the other side lobes: width 3 – 6 mm; length 8 – 12 mm.
The inflorescence is formed by a terminal and open raceme composed of several flowers (none of which in an apical position) with short pedicels. Flowering occurs in the second year of the plant’s life.
It has hermaphrodite flowers, colored in violet, lilac-pink or pink-white, but sometimes also yellowish, with a diameter of 15 – 25 mm; they are actinomorphic (in reality they are asymmetrical flowers – with two planes of symmetry) and tetramers (calyx and corolla composed of 4 parts).
The chalice is made up of 4 sepals at times streaked with violet, erect and leaning against the base of the petals. Length of sepals 7 – 8 mm. Width of the sepals: 1 – 2 mm.
The corolla has the petals alternating with the sepals, there are 4 obovate-obcordate, slightly biloba; they are also unguiculated. The surface has showy darker colored ribs. The size of the petals is: length 12 – 15 mm; width 3 – 8 mm.
The androecium is composed of 6 didynamic stamens (2 short and 4 long) and have no appendages; the anthers are sagittate. Length of filaments 5 – 12 mm. Length of the anthers: 1.5 – 2 mm.
The gynoecium has a bi-carpellar ovary, oblong-linear in shape surmounted by a stylus with capitate stigma.
The anthesis is from May to September, while the pollination is entomophilous.
The fruit is a siliqua swollen in the central area and restricted at the apex. From an anatomical point of view it is formed by two segments: a seedless lower part and a semi-inferior upper part ending in a beak. The size of this fruit is such that it is four times longer than it is wide. It is not dehiscent along the two valves like the other siliques (of the species of other genera of the same family). The fruit contains several seeds arranged in the longitudinal direction and separated from each other by transverse spongy septa. Between one seed and the next the siliqua is barely strangled (not as conspicuously as in the other subspecies of the same genus). Some seed series adhere to the placenta which is very fine. The surface of the fruit is covered by 6 – 8 longitudinal furrows. Fruit size: width 8 – 15 mm; length 30 – 70 mm. Length of the beak: 10 – 15 mm.
Radish is a plant that is grown for its edible swollen roots in salads, it was already known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who knew several cultivars. It is currently a plant widely cultivated in various parts of the world in tropical and temperate regions for its edible roots.
The biological cycle is biennial (flowering occurs in the second year) and the plant is monocarpic, which means that it produces only one fruit per year.
For the cultivation of this vegetable it should be taken into account that it is native to the temperate zone, but from there it can be cultivated in the tropics, where it grows best at latitudes above 10 ° N and S, or at altitudes above 500 meters.
The plant grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 12 and 25 ° C, but can tolerate 3 to 30 ° C.
It prefers an average annual rainfall in the range 800 – 1,000 mm, but tolerates 500 – 2,800 mm.
It is, in general, a very easy to grow and fast growing plant that prefers a sunny position and a rich and light substrate with a lot of humidity.
On the other hand, they do not like very heavy or acidic soils and prefers a pH between 6 and 7, tolerating 5.2 – 8.3.
They are plants susceptible to drought and require irrigation during the hot periods of summer or the quality of the roots will deteriorate quickly and the plants will tend to go to seed.
The roots can be ready for harvest 22 to 50 days after planting.
Yields of around 7-10 tons per hectare of fresh radish can be achieved for small, early ripening cultivars.
There are countless varieties, both winter and summer, which are distinguished by the shape, size and color of the root.
Propagation is by seed. Germination occurs a few days after sowing and to have a gradual production you will have to sow, during the suitable season every 2-3 weeks.
Customs and Traditions –
The radish is a plant cultivated since ancient times and used mostly for food purposes even if there are interesting applications in the medicinal field.
These plants have in fact been known for several millennia as evidenced by the findings made in the various ancient civilizations of Greece, China and Egypt. From Pliny the Elder (Como, 23 – Stabia, after 8 September 79), a Latin writer, we know that the ancients cultivated plants called Raphanus which are probably attributable to the modern genus Raphanus. The ancient Greek doctor Androcides recommended its use to Alexander the Great to avoid the harmful consequences of excessive use of wine.
The root is eaten raw or cooked.
It has a crunchy and juicy texture, a spicy flavor, provided it is consumed while still tender, and widely used in addition to salads.
You can also eat raw or cooked bunches of young flowers; they have a peppery flavor and a nice, crunchy texture, are a great addition to salads or can be used as a substitute for broccoli.
Raw seeds are also edible. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then left to germinate for about 6 days. They have a spicy flavor and go well with salads.
An edible oil can be obtained from the seed.
Young raw pods are also eaten.
Remember that radishes of Japanese varieties have higher concentrations of glucosinolate, a substance that acts against the thyroid gland, so it is better to remove the skin.
Radish is a plant that also contains: radish, various sulfur substances, sugars and little starch.
It has healing properties: for this subspecies folk medicine recognizes some properties such as antiscorbutic (fights scurvy with the presence of vitamins), anthelmintic (eliminates various types of worms or parasitic helminths), antibacterial (blocks the generation of bacteria), antispasmodic (reduces muscle spasms, and also relaxes the nervous system), astringent (limits the secretion of liquids) and stimulating (invigorates and activates the nervous and vascular systems). In particular, the roots stimulate appetite and digestion.
Furthermore, the roots stimulate appetite and digestion, having a tonic and laxative effect on the intestine and indirectly stimulating the flow of bile. Consuming radish generally results in better digestion, however some people are sensitive to its acrimony and vigorous action.
The plant is used in the treatment of intestinal parasites, although the part of the plant used is not specified, and is antibacterial and antifungal.It inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, streptococci, pneumococci, etc. and it also appears to exhibit anticancer activity.
The old leaves, seeds and roots are used in the treatment of asthma and other chest ailments.
The juice of the fresh leaves is a diuretic and a laxative.
The seed is carminative, diuretic, expectorant, laxative and stomachic; it is taken internally to treat indigestion, bloating, gas, acid regurgitation, diarrhea and bronchitis.
The root is antiscorbutic, antispasmodic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive and diuretic; it is crushed and used as a poultice for burns, bruises and bad odors of the feet.
Among others on the agroforestry ones are mentioned.
The plant repels tomato and cucumber beetles and is useful for repelling other harmful insects such as the carrot fly.
In addition, in the associations they go well with lettuce, nasturtium, peas and chervil, tomatoes and cucumbers.
There is a forage variety that grows more vigorously and is used as green manure.
Preparation Method –
Raphanus raphanistrum sativus is a plant cultivated since remote times of which its roots are mainly used, especially in salads or even alone with oil, vinegar and salt.
However, the roots must be tender and must be harvested before the plant blooms.
Raw or cooked young flowers and raw seeds can also be eaten.
Young raw pods are also eaten.
From the seeds an oil is obtained that does not dry and can be used in the production of soap.
As mentioned, there are various uses in the medicinal field, today less used but important in particular dietary corrections.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.