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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    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Armoracia rusticana Horseradish, Red Cole

Armoracia rusticana Horseradish, Red Cole


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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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


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


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].

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;  

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).

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].

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.


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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

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

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 :

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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 zippy07@btinternet.com 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: merseb04@yahoo.com 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 jrueda@clientes.itsduero.es 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. willow.walks@hotmail.co.uk

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