An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Bunias orientalis

Bunias orientalis

The Turkish wartycabbage or warty-cabbage, hill mustard, Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis L.) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Brassicaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subkingdom Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta division,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Dilleniidae,
Capparales Order,
Brassicaceae family,
Genus Bunias,
B. orientalis species.
The terms are synonyms:
– Bunias perennis Sm.;
– Bunias winterli Schult.;
– Crucifera laelia E.H.L.Krause;
– Laelia orientalis (L.) Desv.;
– Laelia orientalis Rchb.;
– Laelia podocarpa C.A.Mey.;
– Laelia podocarpa C.A.Mey. ex Rupr.;
– Myagrum taraxacifolium Lam.;
– Rapistrum glandulosum Bergeret.

Etymology –
The term Bunias should come from the Greek βουνιάς buniás rapa, turnip, found in Dioscorides. However, the etymology is uncertain: it could also derive from buonòs, hill, typical environment of the plant.
The specific epithet orientalis comes from sol orientis the rising sun and therefore the east itself: of the east, east, indication of the distribution area.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Bunias orientalis is a plant native to eastern Europe and in particular to the steppes of southern Siberia and is present today in Finland and the Baltic, south to Macedonia and Bulgaria, western Asia, western Siberia, the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran , Iraq. However, the origin uses does not find all the authors agree. For some it is native to the Armenian highlands, others indicate a much wider original distribution area which includes the Caucasus, southern and central Russia, western Siberia, southeastern Europe up to the southern borders of today’s Slovakia and eastern Hungary .
In Italy it is a species present as an adventitia in the northern regions, from Piedmont to Friuli. The regional distribution is restricted to very few stations scattered in the upper Friuli plain and in the dry valleys of the Carnic Alps.
In its natural habitat it is present in both alpine and subalpine grasslands while in the invasive range it mainly invades disturbed habitats such as roadsides and railways, uncultivated lands, pastures, grassy sites in urban areas, landfills.

Description –
Bunias orientalis is a glabrous or poorly glandular perennial plant 25-120 (150) cm tall with one or more stems branching upwards.
It has lanceolate, divided leaves. The leaves, which form the basal rosette, are up to 40 cm long, pinnate, with narrow divisions and with a triangular terminal lobe, furthermore the upper leaves are smaller and less incised.
The flowers are yellow and carried in branched inflorescences; the sepals are lanceolate, extended or bristly; the petals are 4-8 mm.
The anthesis is in the period of June-July but may differ according to the area of growth.
The fruits are asymmetrically ovoid siliquettes of 3,5(5) x 7(10) mm, covered by small and irregular protuberances, with 1 or 2 monospermous loculi, style of 0,5-2 mm.
The seeds are subglobose, a little compressed, reddish-brown, 2-3 mm.

Cultivation –
Bunias orientalis is a biennial to perennial plant that is harvested from the wild for local use as food.
This plant is capable of spreading quickly to new areas, either by seed or by vegetative reproduction. It has spread from its native range as a result of human activity and has naturalized in many areas including North America, Mongolia and northern China.
It is a very rustic plant, able to survive winter temperatures as low as -45 °C. It tolerates an average annual rainfall of between 500 and 3,000 mm, with a dry season not exceeding about 3 months.
It is a very easy plant to grow, it succeeds in any soil as long as it is in a sunny position, although these plants tend to adapt to shady conditions.
Propagation is by seed. Sowing should be done in spring and germination is usually very quick and good.
The production of seeds can reach up to 1000 per m² of land and this plant, very resistant to diseases, parasites and water stress, can reproduce vegetatively because it is able to regenerate even from small fragments of the roots.
Since it is an invasive plant, various techniques have been implemented to eradicate it from some sites.
Eradication must consist of mechanical elimination before the plant enters flowering. Weeding was also carried out but the consequent effects are worse than the remedy due to the negative effects on soil fertility, on the entomological fauna and on other living organisms.
In fact, it can also be propagated with other vegetative systems such as by division or cutting.
In the second case, cuttings of 2 – 5 cm in length are prepared at any time during the growing season, although early spring, when the plant begins to grow, is the best solution.

Customs and Traditions –
The Bunias orientalis which together with the very similar species, the Bunias erucago, is a very ancient plant. According to research on its genetics, there are two main gene pools, one located in the Iranian-Turanian region and the other in the nearby North Caucasus.
These two pools began to diverge and expand sometime around 930,000 years ago.
Subsequently following the cycles of glaciation and deglaciation of the Pleistocene there was a subsequent expansion of a European gene pool around 230 thousand years ago which thus detached itself from the gene pool of the Caucasian-Iranian-Turanian area. European populations then colonized much of western and northern Europe.
The B. orientalis then spread thanks to the presence of its seeds in the hay that accompanied the animals during the military actions of the Russo-Persian wars, at the beginning and in the middle of the eighteenth century and in Europe by the Russian troops who were pursuing the army of Napoleon retreating in 1812.
Other systems of diffusion then took place around the nineteenth century through maritime navigation also in internal European rivers and subsequently through rail transport in the Russian Empire and in neighboring countries.
Subsequently, the plant also spread to America where the plant was reported for the first time in 1944 on the island of Grand Manan in Canada, although it seems that it was already present.
In addition to its invasiveness, this plant is particularly attractive for pollinators who, by neglecting the native plants, further reduce their populations.
Furthermore, this plant increases its invasiveness due to the allelopathic effect and the presence of long-lasting underground organs, etc. which most hinder the vegetation of other species.
However, this plant also has a significant use as a food plant.
In some populations it is consumed in salads and soups.
It is consumed in the Mediterranean area where the leaves represent the first and last vegetables of the season and are eaten raw when young and cooked when aged.
In Russia the inflorescences are used instead of broccoli even if rather small. In Turkey, the stem, stripped of the bark, is eaten raw.
Furthermore, this plant represents a good forage and with a high nutritional value for many farm animals.
This plant is also used in the medicinal field.
It has been used in homeopathic medicine, as an antiscorbutic, for the so-called lymphatic disorder caused by immune deficiencies.
From a phytochemical point of view it is rich in proteins, lipids, ashes, ascorbic acid, carotene, etc.
Recent research has found that alcoholic extracts of the plant have antimicrobial activity against Candida albicans and Salmonella enterica subsp. enteric.
Even if it is encouraging data, still today there are few studies investigating its effective medicinal properties.

Modalità di Preparazione –
La Bunias orientalis è una pianta utilizzata come pianta alimentare o medicinale.
Si consumano sia le foglie e steli giovani, sia crudi o cotti.
Le foglie giovani hanno un sapore delicato di cavolo che si sposa molto bene con un’insalata mista, anche se alcuni le trovano indigeribili.
Le foglie sono un po’ pelose quindi sono poco gradite se mangiate crude da sole.
Le foglie cotte costituiscono invece un ottimo ortaggio.
Le foglie sono disponibili all’inizio dell’anno, solitamente verso la fine dell’inverno, e la pianta continua a produrre foglie fino al tardo autunno, con un po’ di intervallo quando la pianta è in fiore.
Si consumano anche i boccioli dei fiori e gli steli fioriferi, sia crudi o cotti. Hanno un gradevole sapore delicato con una dolcezza delicata e un sapore simile al cavolo, sono un eccellente sostituto dei broccoli anche se sono piuttosto piccoli.

Guido Bissanti

– 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.

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Attention: The pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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