We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Armoracia rusticana - Gaertn.,C.A.Mey.&Scherb.

Common Name Horseradish, Red Cole
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards Large quantities of this plant can be poisonous due to its content of volatile oils[76]. Traditional texts suggested possible thyroid function depression. Contraindicated with chronic nephritis, hepatitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux or hyperacidity conditions, and inflammatory bowel conditions. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation (moderate amounts with food ok)[301].
Habitats Arable land, waste ground and by streams[9], favouring slightly damp positions[165].
Range Europe. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Armoracia rusticana Horseradish, Red Cole

Armoracia rusticana Horseradish, Red Cole


Translate this page:


Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring, Mid spring.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Armoracia rusticana is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Armoracia armoracia. Armoracia rustica. Cardamine armoracia. Rorippa armoracia.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment

Young root - raw or cooked. The grated root is used to make the condiment 'Horseradish sauce'[2, 9, 13, 14, 27, 33, 34, 52], this has a hot mustard-like flavour[100]. The sauce is best used uncooked or gently warmed, heating it will destroy the volatile oils that are responsible for its pungency[238]. It is said that in Germany the roots are sliced and cooked like parsnips[183] - rather them than me![K]. The root is a rich source of sulphur[201]. Fresh roots contain the glycoside sinigrin - this is decomposed in the presence of water by the enzyme myrosin, producing mustard oil which gives the root its hot flavour[268]. The fleshy roots can be up to 60cm long and 5cm thick[268]. The plant is fully hardy and can be left in the ground all winter to be harvested as required[4]. Alternatively, the roots can be harvested in early winter and stored for later use, they will retain their juicy state for some time if stored in dry sand[4]. Young leaves - raw or cooked[2, 9, 14, 177]. A very strong flavour, though nice when added in small quantities to the salad bowl[183, K]. A pleasant mild flavour according to another report[238]. Seeds - sprouted and eaten in salads[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Aperient  Digestive  Diuretic  Expectorant  Rubefacient  
Stimulant  Urinary

Horseradish is a very pungent stimulant herb that controls bacterial infections and can be used both internally and externally[238]. The plant is a powerful stimulant, whether used internally as a spur for the digestive system or externally as a rubefacient[4]. It should not be used internally by people with stomach ulcers or thyroid problems[238]. The roots are antiseptic, aperient, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient and stimulant[4, 13, 14, 165, 171, 222]. They should be used in their fresh state[4]. An infusion is used in the treatment of colds, fevers and flu and is of value in the treatment of respiratory and urinary tract infections[254]. A sandwich of the freshly grated root is a traditional remedy for hay fever[254]. A tea made from the root is weakly diuretic, antiseptic and expectorant[222]. The plant is antibiotic against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and also pathogenic fungi[222, 240]. It is experimentally antitumor[222]. Externally, a poultice made from the roots is used to treat pleurisy, arthritis and infected wounds[238]. It will also relieve the pain of chilblains[244]. Some caution should be employed, however, because it can cause blistering[254]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Armoracia rusticana for internal & external use in catarrhs of the respiratory tract, internally as supportive therapy for urinary tract infections, externally for the hyperaemic treatment of minor muscles aches (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Fungicide  Repellent

Horseradish tea is effective against brown rot of apples and other fungicidal diseases[18, 201]. The growing plant deters potato eelworm[14].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Massing, Seashore. A very easily grown plant, horseradish prefers a good deep moist well-drained soil and a sunny position[16, 27, 33, 200]. Plants require a good soil if they are to produce good roots[4], though once established they are very tolerant of neglect and will continue to produce a crop for many years[264, K]. Plants do not thrive if they are in the shade of trees[264]. Excess nitrogen causes heavy top growth and forking of the roots[200]. Prefers a wet clay soil according to one report[14], whilst another says that it will not grow in wet clay[16]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 8.3. Horseradish has long been cultivated for its root which is used as a food flavouring and medicinally, there are some named varieties[4, 17, 61, 183]. If the roots are given some protection they will produce fresh young leaves for the salad bowl all through the winter. Digging up some roots and putting them into a greenhouse for the winter is the easiest method. If the young shoots are blanched they will produce white, tender, sweet leaves[183]. A very invasive plant[33], it is considered to be a pernicious weed in some areas[200]. Even quite small sections of root will regrow if they are left in the soil[4]. The plant has yet to prove invasive on our Cornwall trial grounds, though it has survived and even prospered in a very overgrown site[K]. The forms of this plant grown in gardens are almost sterile and seldom produce good seed[264]. This is a good companion plant for potatoes since it is said to deter potato eelworm[14, 18, 201] and the Colorado beetle[238]. One plant at each corner of the potato patch is quite sufficient[201]. When grown under apple trees it is said to prevent brown rot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases[201].Special Features:Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Fragrant flowers. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 12 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - this is seldom produced on plants in cultivation[200]. If seed is obtained then it is best sown in situ during the spring[238]. Division is very easy and can be carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best in spring[33]. It s best to use sections of root about 20cm long, which can be planted out into their permanent positions in February or March, though even very small bits of root will grow away[4, 264]. Division should be carried out at least once every three years or the crop will deteriorate[4].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Ms L. Campbell   Mon Apr 24 2006

I have searched numerous sites for this product, wishing to purchase Horseradish Thongs, but have been unable to do so. Please could you advise via my e-mail address [email protected] Thank you

Sebastian Merino   Thu Aug 24 2006

I too would like to cultivate horseradish and would appreciate any info regarding sources of thongs and-or seeds. I am in Canary isles; north Tenerife; thus I might like to order seed, yet could have thongs brought to me by English friends. Please inform me of sources via my email address: [email protected] Gracias - Sebas.

John Badger   Thu Feb 15 2007

Very useful site for information on The Horseradish plant. I bought 1 from Wilkinsons and it is going to be planted in February (MID) on my allotment near to my Potatoes and fruit trees.

JOSE ANTONIO   Thu Nov 29 2007

Me gustaria saber quien comercializa esta planta en España. Me pueden enviar la información a [email protected] GRACIAS.

Marinella Zepigi   Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Description - Photos - Armoracia rusticana P. Gaertn., B. Mey. & Scherb.

Tilly Ridgway   Sun Jul 27 2008

I, too, bought a horseradish root from Wilkinsons, but having grown it, it bears no resemblance to the plants I have looked at on the internet (or anywhere else). It has a largeish, bright yellow daisy-like flower. Can anyone throw any light on this, please?

david n   Sat May 23 2009

The whole roots are occasionally cooked in Eastern Europe, once cooked the flavor is quite mild (Oxford Companion to Food)

Ashley Huggins   Wed Jun 10 2009

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and would like to cultivate this root on my smallholding in the mountains. Does anyone know where I can obtain seeds or roots for cultivation in Brazil? thanks Ashley Huggins

Mike   Tue Oct 6 2009

I also bought a horseradish thong from wilko and ihas yellow flowers and aknarled rout when i ate some a feeling of calm came over me does anyone have any ideas on what this could have been. [email protected]

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Armoracia rusticana  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.