Rhamphospermum nigrum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Brassica nigra)

Rhamphospermum nigrum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Rhamphospermum
R. nigrum
Binomial name
Rhamphospermum nigrum
    • Brassica brachycarpa P.Candargy
    • Brassica bracteolata Fisch. & C.A.Mey.
    • Brassica elongata var. longipedicellata Halácsy ex Formánek
    • Brassica nigra (L.) W.D.J.Koch
    • Brassica nigra var. abyssinica A.Braun
    • Brassica nigra var. bracteolata (Fisch. & C.A.Mey.) Spach ex Coss.
    • Brassica nigra f. breviflora Zapał.
    • Brassica nigra var. carneodentata Kuntze
    • Brassica nigra f. condensata Hausskn.
    • Brassica nigra f. dentifera Zapał.
    • Brassica nigra f. glabrata Zapał.
    • Brassica nigra f. hispida O.E.Schulz
    • Brassica nigra subsp. hispida (O.E.Schulz) Gladis
    • Brassica nigra proles persoonii Rouy & Foucaud
    • Brassica nigra var. subglabra Kuntze
    • Brassica nigra var. torulosa (Pers.) Alef.
    • Brassica nigra proles turgida (Pers.) Rouy & Foucaud
    • Brassica nigra var. turgida (Pers.) Alef.
    • Brassica nigra var. vulgaris Alef.
    • Brassica persoonii Rouy & Foucaud
    • Brassica sinapioides Roth
    • Brassica sinapioides Roth ex W.D.J.Koch
    • Brassica sinapis Noulet
    • Brassica turgida Rouy & Foucaud
    • Crucifera sinapis (L.) E.H.L.Krause
    • Erysimum glabrum C.Presl
    • Melanosinapis communis Spenn.
    • Melanosinapis nigra (L.) Calest.
    • Mutarda nigra (L.) Bernh.
    • Raphanus sinapis-officinalis Crantz
    • Sinapis bracteolata G.Don
    • Sinapis erysimoides Roxb.
    • Sinapis gorraea Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.
    • Sinapis nigra L.
    • Sinapis nigra var. torulosa (Pers.) Mérat
    • Sinapis nigra var. turgida (Pers.) Mérat
    • Sinapis orgyalis Willd. ex Ledeb.
    • Sinapis persoonii (Rouy & Foucaud) A.Chev.
    • Sinapis torulosa Pers.
    • Sinapis turgida A.Chev.
    • Sinapis turgida Pers.
    • Sisymbrium nigrum (L.) Prantl

Rhamphospermum nigrum (syns. Brassica nigra and Sinapis nigra), black mustard, is an annual plant cultivated for its dark-brown-to-black seeds, which are commonly used as a spice.[1][2][3] It is native to cooler regions of North Africa, temperate regions of Europe, and parts of Asia.


Black mustard plants in Saarbrücken
Black mustard fruits at the Jardin des Plantes de Paris
Black mustard seeds

It is an upright plant, with large stalked leaves. They are covered with hairs or bristles at the base, but on the stem smoother. It can reach up to 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) tall in moist fertile soil.[4][5][6] It blooms in summer, from May (in the UK) onwards. The flowers have four yellow petals, which are twice as long as the sepals. Each stem has around four flowers at the top, forming a ring around the stem. Later, the plant forms long seed pods, that contain rounded seeds.[4]


It was formally described by Karl Koch in "Deutschl. Fl." (or Deutschlands Flora) ed.3 on page 713 in 1833.[7][8] This was based on a description by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.

The Latin-specific epithet nigrum is derived from the Latin word for black.[9][10] This is due to the black seeds.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is native to tropical regions of North Africa, temperate regions of Europe and parts of Asia.[11]


It is found in North Africa, within Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Ethiopia, Morocco and Tunisia. Within Asia, it is found in Afghanistan, Armenia, the Caucasus, China (in the provinces of Gansu, Jiangsu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Xizang), Cyprus, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. In eastern Europe, it is found in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In middle Europe, it is found in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. In northern Europe, in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In southeastern Europe, within Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Also in southwestern Europe, it is found in France and Spain.[11]

It was introduced to the Pacific coast of North America and is considered an invasive species.[12][13]


More than 2,000 years ago, the plant was used as a condiment; it was mentioned by the Roman author Columella in the 1st century A.D. The plant leaves were also pickled in vinegar. In 13th century France the seeds were ground and used. They were mixed with unfermented grape juice (must) to create "moût-ardent" ("burning must"). This became later "moutarde",[4] or mustard in English.

A spice is generally made from ground seeds of the plant, with the seed coats removed. The small (1 mm) seeds are hard and vary in color from dark brown to black. They are flavorful, although they have almost no aroma. The seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine,[14] for example in curry, where it is known as rai.[15] The seeds are usually thrown into hot oil or ghee, after which they pop, releasing a characteristic nutty flavor. The seeds have a significant amount of fatty oil, mainly oleic acid.[16] This oil is used often as cooking oil in India, where it is called "sarson ka tel".[17]

The young leaves, buds and flowers are edible.[6] In Ethiopia, where the plant is cultivated as a vegetable in Gondar, Harar and Shewa, the shoots and leaves are consumed cooked and the seeds used as a spice. Its Amharic name is senafitch.[18]

Black mustard is thought to be the seed mentioned by Jesus in the Parable of the Mustard Seed.[19]

Since the 1950s, black mustard has become less popular as compared to brown mustard, because some cultivars of brown mustard have seeds that can be mechanically harvested in a more efficient manner.

Folk medicine[edit]

In the UK, the plant was used to make "hot mustard baths", which would aid people with colds.[4] Ground seeds of the plant mixed with honey are widely used in eastern Europe as a cough suppressant. In Eastern Canada, the use of mouche de moutarde to treat respiratory infections was popular before the advent of modern medicine. It consisted in mixing ground mustard seeds with flour and water, and creating a cataplasm with the paste. This poultice was put on the chest or the back and left until the person felt a stinging sensation. Mustard poultice could also be used to aid muscular pains.[4]

Similar plants[edit]

Despite their similar common names, black mustard and white mustard (genus Sinapis) are not in the same genus. Black mustard belongs to the same tribe as cabbage and turnips.

R. nigrum also resembles Hirschfeldia incana, or hoary mustard, (formerly Brassica geniculata), which is a perennial plant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rhamphospermum nigrum (L.) Al-Shehbaz". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  2. ^ David Chapman (2008). Exploring the Cornish Coast. Penzance: Alison Hodge. p. 104. ISBN 9780906720561.
  3. ^ Al-Shehbaz, Ihsan A. (2021). "Nomenclatural Adjustments in Eutrema, Ceratocnemum, Rhamphospermum, and Sinapis (Brassicaceae, Cruciferae)". Harvard Papers in Botany. 26. doi:10.3100/hpib.v26iss1.2021.n1. S2CID 235769737.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Reader's Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain. Reader's Digest. 1981. p. 41. ISBN 9780276002175.
  5. ^ New England Botany
  6. ^ a b Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. (2009) [1982]. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods. New York: Sterling. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-4027-6715-9. OCLC 244766414.
  7. ^ "Brassica nigra (L.) K.Koch is an accepted name". theplantlist.org. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Brassicaceae Brassica nigra (L.) W.D.J.Koch". ipni.org. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ Allen J. Coombes The A to Z of Plant Names: A Quick Reference Guide to 4000 Garden Plants , p. 241, at Google Books
  10. ^ D. Gledhill The Names of Plants , p. 273, at Google Books
  11. ^ a b "Taxon: Brassica nigra (L.) W. D. J. Koch". ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  12. ^ Panzar, Javier (25 April 2019). "This super bloom is pretty dangerous: Invasive mustard is fuel for the next fire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  13. ^ "black mustard Brassica nigra". Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  14. ^ O'Sullivan, Eve (17 February 2014). "How to cook with mustard seeds". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  15. ^ "Mustard Seeds / Rai / Sarson". food-india.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  16. ^ Mejia-Garibay, B.; Palou, E.; Guerrero-Beltrán, J. A.; López-Malo, A. (June 2015). "Physical and antioxidant characteristics of black (Brassica nigra) and yellow mustard (Brassica alba) seeds and their products". Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición. 65 (2): 128–35. PMID 26817385.
  17. ^ Borah, Plavaneeta (30 November 2016). "8 Incredible Mustard Oil Benefits That Make It So Popular". ndtv.com. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  18. ^ Zemede Asfaw, "Conservation and use of traditional vegetables in Ethiopia" Archived 2012-07-07 at the Wayback Machine, Proceedings of the IPGRI International Workshop on Genetic Resources of Traditional Vegetables in Africa (Nairobi, 29–31 August 1995)
  19. ^ Post, George Edward (1900). "Mustard". In James Hastings (ed.). A Dictionary of the Bible.

External links[edit]