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Raphanus sativus is a cultigen (a plant that has been altered by humans through a process of selective breeding). Because it has been in cultivation for thousands of years, its exact origins are unknown. Radish is grown all over the world for its fleshy, edible taproot. A wide variety of cultivars are available, producing taproots that range from 2 cm up to 1 m long, and from red to pink, white, purple or black in colour.

Raphanus sativus (radish)

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

Raphanus sativus is a cultigen (a plant that has been altered by humans through a process of selective breeding). Because it has been in cultivation for thousands of years, its exact origins are unknown. Radish is grown all over the world for its fleshy, edible taproot. A wide variety of cultivars are available, producing taproots that range from 2 cm up to 1 m long, and from red to pink, white, purple or black in colour.

Radish is a cruciferous plant in Brassicaceae, a family that includes turnip (Brassica rapa), cabbage and relatives (Brassica oleracea) and horseradish (Armoracia rusticana).

The generic name Raphanus derives from the Greek ra, meaning quickly, and phainomai, meaning to appear, in reference to the rapid germination of radish seeds. The common name radish derives from the Latin for root, radix.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

It is thought that Raphanus sativus evolved in the eastern Mediterranean region and may have been selected from R. raphanistrum subspecies landra (sometimes known by the synonym R. landra ).

Radish was an important food crop in Egypt by 2,000 BC, spread to China by about 500 BC and reached Japan around 700 AD. Radish did not reach Britain until the mid-16th century.

Radish is now widely distributed, and cultivars are available to suit a wide range of environmental conditions.

Description

Overview: An annual or biennial herb with succulent taproot.

Taproot: Widely variable in colour, shape and size. Red, pink, white, yellow, purple or black externally, white to bright pink internally. Spherical, olive-, spindle- or turnip-shaped, tapering from top or bottom, 2 cm to 1m long and 60 cm in diameter.

Leaves: Lobed, with a larger, rounded, terminal lobe and smaller, paired lower segments. Irregularly toothed.

Flowers: Four white to pink or pale violet petals. Four sepals. Flowers borne on erect, many-flowered inflorescences up to 90 cm tall.

Fruit: A smooth, beaked, fleshy siliqua (fruit divided into two parts by a thin partition and opening by two valves to reveal seeds on central limb).

Many cultivars are available, including:• 'Caudatus' - rat's tail• 'Longipinnatus' - daikon, mooli, mula, muli, Chinese root, Japanese root, rettich

Cultivars commonly grown in the UK include: 'Black Spanish Round', 'Cherry Belle', 'China Rose', 'French Breakfast', 'München Bier', and many others.

Uses

Radish is cultivated as an annual for its enlarged, succulent taproot, which has been used for food since prehistoric times. The taproot is eaten raw in salads, relishes and appetizers, and slices are included in stir-fries. Black radishes are favoured in many Eastern European cuisines.

Young radish leaves are edible and are cooked in the same manner as spinach. Sprouted radish seedlings (jaba) are also consumed. Young radish fruits have a spicy flavour and are sometimes pickled. Radish was grown for its seed oil in Ancient Egypt.

Oriental radish ( Raphanus sativus 'Longipinnatus'), known as daikon or mooli, can produce a long-lasting taproot over 45 cm long and weighing up to 50 kg. This mild-flavoured taproot is widely used in oriental cuisines, for example in soups, sauces and meat dishes. In Japan it is grated to produce a garnish for sashimi. Pickled daikon is popular in Japan and Korea. Daikon is used to make 'turnip cake', which is eaten at Chinese New Year. Daikon is fed to stock in the East.

Raphanus sativus 'Caudatus', known as rat's tail, is cultivated in Asia for its fruits which grow up to 30 cm long. The young fruits are consumed raw, cooked or pickled.

Some radish cultivars are grown for their leaves, which are used as fodder.

Night of the radishes

On 23 December in Oaxaca (Mexico) thousands of people gather to celebrate Noche de rábanos (Night of the radishes).

The focus of this festival, celebrated since 1897, is the creation of intricate sculptures carved from giant radishes, many depicting nativity scenes or saints.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

Three collections of Raphanus sativus seeds are held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

This species at Kew

Raphanus sativus can usually be seen growing in the Plant Family Beds at Kew.

Pressed and dried specimens of Raphanus sativus are held in Kew's Herbarium where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details of specimens of Raphanus species can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

Specimens of radish roots, seeds, seed oil and fruits are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

Ecology
Unknown.
Conservation
Widespread in cultivation.
Hazards

None known.

[UPB]

The Useful Plants of Boyacá project

Ecology
Alt. 1800 - 2900 m.
Distribution
Cultivated in Colombia.
Morphology General Habit
Herb.

[FZ]

Cruciferae, A. W. Exell. Flora Zambesiaca 1:1. 1960

Morphology General Habit
Annual or biennial herb with a tuberous white, pink or red tap-root and erect, bristly stem up to 100 cm. tall.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers white or purplish.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit inflated, up to 15 mm. in diam., not or little constricted between the seeds and not breaking transversely into joints, beak long and conical.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 1800 - 2900 m.; Andes.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba

[FTEA]

Cruciferae, Bengt Jonsell (University of Stockholm). Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1982

Diagnostic
Like R. raphanistrum but usually biennial with thickened napiform to cylindrical taproot and with thicker siliquae (7–15 mm. in diameter) of ± spongy to corky consistency, not lomentaceous and not or only slightly constricted between the 1–12 seeds.
Habitat
Cultivated places; 15–2650 m.
Distribution
K3 T6 cosmopolitan as an escaped alien

[KSP]
Use
Food.

[UPB]
Use Medicines Unspecified Medicinal Disorders
Medicinal (State of the World's Plants 2016).

Native to:

Greece, Italy, Sicilia, Yugoslavia

Introduced into:

Alabama, Alaska, Algeria, Altay, Andaman Is., Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Arkansas, Assam, Baleares, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, British Columbia, Bulgaria, California, Canary Is., Caroline Is., Central European Rus, Chile Central, Chile North, Chile South, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colombia, Colorado, Connecticut, Corse, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Delaware, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Florida, Galápagos, Georgia, Gilbert Is., Guatemala, Gulf of Guinea Is., Gulf States, Hainan, Haiti, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, India, Indiana, Inner Mongolia, Iowa, Iraq, Jawa, Kansas, Kazakhstan, Kazan-retto, Kenya, Korea, Kriti, Krym, Kuwait, Labrador, Lebanon-Syria, Leeward Is., Libya, Louisiana, Madeira, Maine, Manchuria, Manitoba, Marianas, Marshall Is., Maryland, Massachusetts, Mauritania, Mexican Pacific Is., Mexico Northwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Morocco, Nebraska, Nepal, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Caledonia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, Newfoundland, Nicobar Is., North Carolina, North Dakota, North European Russi, Northern Provinces, Nova Scotia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oman, Ontario, Oregon, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Pennsylvania, Portugal, Prince Edward I., Puerto Rico, Qinghai, Queensland, Québec, Rhode I., Rwanda, Sardegna, Saskatchewan, Saudi Arabia, South Australia, South Carolina, South Dakota, South European Russi, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Texas, Tibet, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Utah, Uzbekistan, Victoria, Vietnam, Virginia, Wake I., Washington, West Himalaya, West Virginia, Western Australia, Windward Is., Wisconsin, Wyoming, Xinjiang, Yemen, Zimbabwe

English
Radish
Spanish
Rábano.

Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus (L.) Domin appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Cope, T.A. [RBG 235], Great Britain Raphanus sativus K000914172
s.coll. [Cat. no. 4799] Raphanus sativus K001039934
s.coll. [Cat. no. 4799] Raphanus sativus K001039936
s.coll. [Cat. no. 4799] Raphanus sativus K001039935

First published in Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 26(2): 255 (1910)

Accepted by

  • Ackerfield, J. (2015). Flora of Colorado: 1-818. BRIT Press.
  • Al-Eisawi, D. (2016). Taxonomic synopsis of Brassicaceae for the flora of Jordan Webbia; Raccolta de Scritti Botanici 71: 219-226.
  • Iljinska, A.P. (2008). A taxonomic analysis of the genus Raphanus L. (sect. Raphanus, Brassicaceae) Ukrayins'kyi Botanicnyi Zhurnal 65: 811-822.
  • Krasnoborov, I.M. & Armemov, I.A. (2012). Opredelitel' Rastenii Respublika Altai: 1-640. Novosibirsk: Izd-vo SO RAN.
  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
  • Musselman, L.J. (2011). Checklist of Plants of Lebanon and Syria http://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/lebsyria/Checklist%20of%20Lebanon%20Plants.pdf.

Not accepted by

  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2001). Flora of China 8: 1-506. Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis). [Cited as Raphanus sativus.]

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Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
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Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca
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Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
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Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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Kew Species Profiles
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Useful Plants of Boyacá Project
ColPlantA database
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