Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana; Cruciferae)


A stout perennial to 2 ft (60 cm) tall, with large basal leaves 1—2 ft (30—60 cm) long and small white flowers in May. The roots are fleshy and fanged. Origin, eastern Europe, naturalised in Britain, and sometimes a pernicious weed.


Now mainly used in cooking, the peppery roots being grated, and used for horseradish sauce in particular. Also antibiotic qualities and much good effect on digestion. Was formerly prescribed against scurvy.


Widely used for many centuries, particularly in Germany where it seems to have replaced mustard in the past. Its use in this country did not become general, however, until the 17th century, when ale was made from it. Horseradish has been placed in a variety of genera, and was once Cochlearia armoracia; cochlea is the Latin for spoon, in reference to the spoon shaped leaves of some species.


Supply a rich, moist soil worked to 2 ft (60 cm) depth. Plant 3-in. (7 cm) root cuttings in March 1 ft (30 cm) apart, just covered with soil, in a bed separate from other plants. Lift all the plants in late autumn, store the larger roots in sand for cooking, and retain the smaller, also in sand, for planting next spring. Regular new plantings thus ensure the best quality roots for cooking.