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Armoracia rusticana - Horseradish

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Brassicales - Family: Brassicaceae

Horseradish on Wales Coast Path, Llandudno

Horseradish is not native to Britain and Ireland but it is now widely naturalised here, having been introduced sometime during the fifteenth or sixteenth century.

Horseradish flower panicles, North Wales

Description

Horseradish grows to a height of 70cm. This stout, hairless perennial plant has a long broad tap root. The large basal leaves are oblong -lanceolate, toothed and usually held fairly erect. The much smaller stem leaves have short stalks.

Flowers of Horseradish

Flowers, each with four white rounded petals, are typically 8 to 9 mm across and are borne in broad panicles.

Purple leaf veins, Horseradish

Habitat

Horseradish is commonly seen on roadside verges, in wasteland and on the banks of rivers and streams.

Distribution

Found throughout thr UK, but less commonly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Horseradish is thought to be native to parts of eastern Europe and western Asia, but because of its culinary value it has been introduced to most clountries with temperate climates.

Uses

Horseradish sauce is made from the thick tap roots of this plant combined with crème fraîche, vinegar and mustard; it is often served with roast beef, but it is also used with some fish dishes. Medicinal use of this plant dates back thousands of years.

Etymology

The specific epithet rusticana comes from Latin and means rustic (of the countryside).

Similar Species

Related white-flowered brassicaceae species such as Watercress and Common Scurvey-grass have flowers of very similar appearance to those of Horseradish, but the large upright basal leaves of Horseradish are very distinctive and should avoid such confusion.


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