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:


Brassica_juncea - (L.)Czern.

Common Name Brown Mustard
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards Mustard allergy possibly especially in children and adolescents. Retention of seeds possibly in intestines if taken internally [301].
Habitats Cornfields in Britain[17].
Range N. Europe to C. Asia. Rarely naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Brassica_juncea Brown Mustard

Brassica_juncea Brown Mustard


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Brassica_juncea is a ANNUAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. 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 acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


B. japonica. B. juncea japonica. Sinapis juncea.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw or cooked[22, 33, 46, 52, 61]. A peppery flavour that can range from mild to hot, this is one of the most highly prized cooked vegetables in the Orient[206]. The leaves can also be eaten raw, when finely shredded they make a very acceptable addition to mixed salads[206]. The protein extracted from the leaves mixes well with banana pulp and is well adapted as a pie filling[183]. Flowers and young flowering stems - raw or cooked[52]. Sweet and succulent[133]. An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[1, 2, 17, 57, 183]. The seed contains 25 - 30% oil[74]. The seed is used as a mustard flavouring[171]. It is the source of 'brown mustard'[183], a prepared mustard that is milder than that produced from other species[238]. Pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed - an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 - 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild bitter mustard[238]. Black mustard comes from B. nigra and white mustard from Sinapis alba. The seed is also used whole in curries and pickles[238]. They are often heated in oil to destroy their pungency and give them a nutty flavour[238]. The root of some forms of this species is edible[183]. Sprouted seeds can be added to salads.

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.

Although not usually used medicinally, the seed is a warming stimulant herb with antibiotic effects[238]. Reported to be anodyne, aperitif, diuretic, emetic, rubefacient, and stimulant, Brown Mustard is a folk remedy for arthritis, foot ache, lumbago, and rheumatism[269]. The seed is used in the treatment of tumours in China[269]. In Korea, the seeds are used in the treatment of abscesses, colds, lumbago, rheumatism, and stomach disorders[269]. The root is used as a galactagogue in Africa[269]. Ingestion may impart a body odour repellent to mosquitoes[269]. Mustard oil is used in the treatment of skin eruptions and ulcers[269]. Believed to be aperient and tonic, the volatile oil is used as a counterirritant and stimulant[269]. In Java the plant is used as an antisyphilitic emmenagogue[269]. Leaves applied to the forehead are said to relieve headache[269]. The Chinese eat the leaves in soups for bladder, inflammation or haemorrhage[269].

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

There is some evidence that if this plant is grown as a green manure it is effective in reducing soil-borne root rots in pea crops[206]. This is attributed to chemicals that are given off as the plants decay[206]. Brassica juncea is used in phytoremediation to remove heavy metals, such as lead, from the soil in hazardous waste sites because it has a higher tolerance for these substances and stores the heavy metals in its cells. In particular, Schneider et al. found that Brassica juncea was particularly effective at removing cadmium from soil.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in full sun in most well-drained moisture-retentive fertile soils[16, 200, 206]. Prefers a heavy soil and some shade[16]. Dislikes very hot weather[33]. Plants tolerate high rainfall and, although fairly deep rooted, are not very drought resistant[206]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Brown mustards is widely cultivated for its edible seed which is used to make the condiment 'brown mustard' and is also sprouted as the mustard of mustard and cress[50, 200]. It has only 70% of the pungency of black mustard (B. nigra) but can be harvested mechanically so is more viable commercially[238]. This species has also been cultivated in the Orient for many hundreds of years and a wide diversity of forms has been developed with edible leaves, stems, roots and seeds. These forms have been classified by the botanists as follows and separate entries have been made for each of them. B. juncea crispifolia. The curled or cutleaf mustards, this group has attractively curled edible leaves. B. juncea foliosa. The leaf mustards have quite large smooth-edged edible leaves. B. juncea japonica. Rather similar to B. juncea crispifolia and combined with that group by some botanists. B. juncea multiceps. The multishoot mustard group. B. juncea napiformis. A form with a swollen edible root. B. juncea rugosa. Large somewhat cabbage-like edible leaves. B. juncea strumata. A form with large edible leaf stalks. B. juncea tumida. A form with swollen edible stems. Plants take from 2 - 5 months from sowing to maturity, depending on the season and the cultivar[206]. They prefer a fairly high stable temperature and are well adapted to short day length[200]. Many are best grown in warmer climates than Britain but there are several cultivars that grow well in this country[206]. Plants have a rooting depth of between 90 - 120 cm[269]. A good bee plant[74].

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 - sow in situ from early spring to early autumn in order to obtain a succession of edible leaves. Most varieties of Oriental vegetables belonging to this species are best sown from late June to early September otherwise they may bolt[206]. There are about 5,660 - 6,000 per 0.01 kg (1/3 oz)[269].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, Jie Cai (in Mandarin) or Kai Choi (in Cantonese),[1] or leaf mustard . Cuba: mostaza; mostaza china; mostaza de la tierra.

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.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Noxious Weed Information: Michigan, US (Brassica mustard) Noxious weed.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Brassica junceaBrown MustardAnnual0.8 6-9  LMHSNM422
Brassica juncea crispifoliaCurled MustardAnnual0.3 6-9 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea foliosaLeaf MustardAnnual0.3 6-9 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea integrifolia crispifoliaCurled MustardAnnual0.3 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea integrifolia rugosaHead MustardAnnual0.6 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea integrifolia strumataLarge Petiole MustardAnnual0.8 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea integrifolia subintegrifoliaLeaf MustardAnnual0.3 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea multicepsGreen In The SnowAnnual0.4 6-9 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea napiformisRoot MustardAnnual0.8 6-9  LMHSNM422
Brassica juncea rugosaHead MustardAnnual0.6 6-9  LMHSNM422
Brassica juncea strumataLarge Petiole MustardAnnual0.8 6-9  LMHSNM42 
Brassica juncea tsatsai multicepsGreen In The SnowAnnual0.4 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea tsatsai tumidaSwollen-Stem MustardAnnual0.8 6-10 FLMHSNM422
Brassica juncea tumidaSwollen-Stem MustardAnnual0.8 6-9  LMHSNM422

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

James Allen   Thu Nov 12 2009

This is a story that first appeared in the Tri-City Herald by Drew Foster. Chinese hot mustard in this case is Brassica Juncea. November 9, 2009 Potato farmers fight pests with hot mustard The Spokesman-Review Tags: agriculture potatoes Chinese hot mustard, like horseradish and habanero, is best consumed in small portions. That’s part of the thinking behind efforts by many Mid-Columbia farmers, particularly potato growers, to raise fields of mustard between crops. The mustard is grown from August to late fall and can reach 5 to 7 feet tall before it’s chopped and tilled. The chopped and buried mustard plants release chemicals that kill root-knot, root-lesion and stubby-root nematodes – all enemies of Mid-Columbia potatoes. “The chemicals in the mustard plant are the same chemicals as the mustard seed,” said Andy McGuire, agriculture systems educator for the Washington State University Extension Office in Ephrata. Mustard seed, when cracked and ground, is used to make the hot mustard offered at many Chinese restaurants. In a sense, the pesky nematodes are bathed in the sinus-searing condiment. “It gets into the water they’re living in and kills them,” McGuire said. Mustard also fights soil-borne fungal pathogens such as verticillium wilt. Green manure such as mustard also can increase water filtration in the soil and reduce wind erosion – both reasons farmer Dale Gies began using mustard as a cover crop about 15 years ago. He soon found it also killed nematodes and fungal pathogens. “This one really fit the bill,” he said. Rick Boydston, a weed scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Prosser, has worked with mustard as a pest and weed controller for more than a decade. While tilled mustard kills nematodes and fungal pathogens, Boydston said the growing plant suppresses weed growth as well. Tilled mustard, acting as a bio-fumigant, also has the potential to inhibit weed germination. However, he said, “If it’s suppressing weeds, it can suppress your crop.” Boydston said the key to reducing weed germination but not affecting the potato crop is timing it so the chemicals released by the mustard diminish by the time potato planting begins in the spring. The large size of the potato tubers also helps protect them from the mustard chemicals, he said. Get more news and information at Spokesman.com

   Feb 1 2017 12:00AM

Thank you. I now have found this plant that will clean the lead residue ( from lead-based paint used before 1978 in the U.S.) from the soil around the foundation of my house.Brown Mustard. I will give it a try.

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 : Brassica_juncea  
© 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.