Raphanus sativus (radish)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Raphanus sativus L.
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Raphanus candidus
- Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus (L.) Domin
- Raphanus sativus var. caudatus L.H. Bailey
- Raphanus sativus var. niger J. Kern
- Raphanus sativus var. oleiferus
- Raphanus sativus var. oleiformis Pers.
- Raphanus sativus var. sativus
International Common Names
- Spanish: rabanó
- French: petit radis; radis d'hiver; ravonet
- Arabic: fugl
- Chinese: lor bark
- Portuguese: rabanete; rabao
Local Common Names
- France: radis
- Germany: Radies; Rettig
- Italy: radice; ramolaccio; ravanello; ravano
- Japan: daikon
- Netherlands: radijs; ramenas, tuin-
- Philippines: labanos
- Sweden: rädisa; raettika, gaards-
- Vietnam: cu-cai trang
- RAPSN (Raphanus sativus var. niger)
- RAPSR (Raphanus sativus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Capparidales
- Family: Brassicaceae
- Genus: Raphanus
- Species: Raphanus sativus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The following wild species, closely related to the cultivated radish, possibly contributed to its origin: R. raphanistrum, distributed in the Mediterranean, western Asia and in Europe; R. maritimus, occurring along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean in Europe, of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea; R. raphanistrum subsp. landra; and R. rostratus, distributed from Greece eastwards to the Caspian Sea. Sometimes these related species are considered as one species complex named R. raphanistrum, with the different taxa classified as subspecies. R. sativus crosses freely with the related wild species. R. sativus is also closely related to several Brassica species and to Sinapisarvensis (charlock), with which it has also been successfully crossed.
Radish cultivars are classified into cultivar groups, but often a practical grouping of cultivars according to growing period, root shape and colour is followed.
DescriptionTop of page
Erect, annual, more or less densely hairy herb, 20-100 cm tall; upper part of taproot and hypocotyl swollen, tuberous, globular, cylindrical or tapering, very variable in size, form and weight, red to white, sometimes grey to black, flesh white, sometimes red; stem at first short, growing out towards anthesis, hollow.
Leaves alternate, glabrous to sparingly hispid; lower leaves in a radical rosette, petioles 3-5.5 cm long, leaf-blades oblong, oblong-ovate to lyrate-pinnatifid, 3-5-jugate with a round or ovate terminal lobe, 5-30 cm long; higher leaves much smaller, shortly petioled, lanceolate-spathulate, subdentate.
Inflorescence a terminal, erect, long, many-flowered raceme; flowers 1.5 cm in diameter, fragrant, white to lilac; pedicel up to 2.5 cm long; sepals 4, oblong-linear, 6-10 mm long; petals 4, spathulate, clawed, 1-2 cm long; stamens 6, tetradynamous; style 3-4 mm long. Fruit cylindrical, up to 10-30 cm x 1.5 cm, consisting of 2- several superposed joints, lower joint very short and seedless, upper one(s) much larger, terete, spongy and divided into 2-12 one-seeded compartments, indehiscent, with a long, seedless beak. Seed ovoid-globose, about 3 mm in diameter, yellowish.
The cv. group Chinese Radish is very variable. The smaller forms (South-East Asia) have white, cylindrical roots, 10-25 cm x 4-5 cm. Larger forms (China, Japan) can attain a weight of 20 kg, with leaves up to 60 cm long and with 8-12 pairs of pinnae. The cv. group Leaf Radish has no swollen roots. In cv. group Rat-tailed Radish, fruits can attain 30 cm or more in length. The cv. group Small Radish has globose roots, ellipsoid or cylindrical, 0.5-4 cm x 0.5-4 cm, red, white, red and white or violet.
DistributionTop of page
The origin of R. sativus is not known, but the area of maximum diversity runs from the eastern Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea; the variability diminishes gradually from the Caspian Sea to China, and still more to Japan. Radish is a crop of ancient cultivation in the Mediterranean (before 2000 BC), from where it spread to China in about 500 BC and to Japan in about 700 AD. It has now spread throughout the world. Cultivar group Chinese or Oriental Radish (R. sativus var. niger) is the most important in Japan, Korea, China and South-East Asia. Cultivar group Leaf Radish (R. sativus var. oleiformis) is gaining importance in Europe as forage and green manure. Cultivar group Rat-tailed Radish (R. sativus var. caudatus) is most important in India and eastern Asia. In South-East Asia it is important in northern Thailand and Burma. Cultivar group Small or Western Radish (R. sativus var. sativus) is the most important in temperate climates.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 18 May 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present|
|Austria||Present||Introduced||First reported: <1760|
|United Kingdom||Present||Introduced||First reported: 1862 (publication)|
|-Rio de Janeiro||Present|
Habitat ListTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Helianthus annuus (sunflower)||Asteraceae||Other|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Radish seeds take about 4 days to germinate at 20-30°C. The taproot may grow to a depth of 1-1.5 m, the lateral roots are few and very slender. The edible part consists of the thickened hypocotyl (cv. group Small Radish) or of the thickened hypocotyl and upper part of the taproot (cv. group Chinese Radish). At first the leaves grow in a rosette, towards anthesis the stem elongates and branches. Flowers are cross-pollinated by insects. Growing time depends on the cultivar and desired product. Small radishes can be harvested 3-5 weeks after sowing.
Radish is primarily a crop for the temperate regions or a cool-season crop. Cool conditions stimulate vigorous growth. Short day length stimulates root development; high temperature stimulates the development of inflorescences. The crop requires well-drained, light, sandy, deep, soils, with pH 6–6.5. Heavy soils may bring about misshapen roots.
The cultivars developed for early spring fresh market production have an annual habit, and material without a vernalization or specific day-length requirement has been developed from both Raphanus sativus var. radicula and Raphanus sativus var. niger. However, these types flower earlier when grown in long days.
Selection of types suitable for crop production in summer, autumn or winter has resulted in cultivars that are biennials with a vernalization requirement. The removal of early bolting plants from late spring and summer cultivars has probably resulted in the decreased sensitivity to day-length.
The flowers are cross-pollinated by bees and other insects (see George, 2009).
UsesTop of page
Radish is grown mainly for its thickened fleshy root. Small or western radishes are pungent and prized as a relish or appetizer and for adding colour to dishes. The oriental radish (cv. group Chinese Radish), being crisp with mild flavour, plays a much wider role in South-East Asia. The roots are thinly peeled, sliced or diced and put into soups and sauces or cooked with meat. They can be preserved in salt. Sometimes, as in the Philippines, they are eaten fresh, mixed with other vegetables like tomato. Tops (leaves) are eaten as salad or spinach. Seedlings known as radish sprouts are used as greens for appetizers or cooked as spinach. Cv. group Rat-tailed Radish is grown for the immature seed pods, consumed raw, cooked or pickled. Leaf radish is mainly grown as green manure, forage or as a catch crop (central and western Europe).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Soil improvement
Human food and beverage
- Miscellaneous materials
BibliographyTop of page
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Sarveshwar Dayal, Verma TS, Lakhanpal KD, Ramesh Chand, 1991. Response of radish cultivars to different sowing dates. Haryana Journal of Horticultural Sciences, 20(3/4):218-225.
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Wilson RG, Kerr ED, Provance P, 1994. Growth and development of oil-radish and yellow mustard in Nebraska. Journal of Sugar Beet Research. 1994, 30:159-167.
ReferencesTop of page
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