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Sinapis alba - L.

Common Name White Mustard
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The seed contains substances that irritate the skin and mucous membranes[238]. The plant is possibly poisonous once the seedpods have formed[76]. Mustard allergy possibly especially in children and adolescents. Retention of seeds possibly in intestines if taken internally [301].
Habitats A weed of arable and waste land, especially on calcareous soils[17].
Range Europe - Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Sinapis alba White Mustard

Sinapis alba White Mustard


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sinapis alba is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, wind.
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. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Bonannia officinalis. Brassica alba. Brassica hirta. Sinapis foliosa.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Condiment  Oil

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 14, 52]. A hot pungent flavour, especially if eaten raw[K]. Young leaves are used as a flavouring in mixed salads, whilst older leaves are used as a potherb[183]. Seed - sprouted and eaten raw[1, 34, 37, 52]. The seed takes about 4 days to be ready[244]. A hot flavour, it is often used in salads. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. The seed can be ground into a powder and used as a food flavouring[17, 34, 89, 171], it is the 'white mustard' of commerce[100, 105]. This is milder than the black mustard obtained from Brassica nigra[183]. The 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].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
  • 500 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 27.2g; Fat: 35g; Carbohydrate: 34g; Fibre: 6g; Ash: 4.5g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 500mg; Phosphorus: 800mg; Iron: 16mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 5mg; Potassium: 732mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 400mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.5mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.37mg; Niacin: 8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: These are median figures of a range given in the report.

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  Antifungal  Antirheumatic  Appetizer  Carminative  Cathartic  Diaphoretic  Digestive  
Diuretic  Emetic  Expectorant  Rubefacient  Stimulant  Vesicant

The seed is antibacterial, antifungal, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, rubefacient and stimulant[14, 176, 218, 238]. The seed has a cathartic action due to hydrolytic liberation of hydrogen sulphide[218]. In China it is used in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm and tuberculosis, pleurisy[176]. The seed is seldom used internally as a medicine in the west[238]. Externally it is usually made into mustard plasters (using the ground seed), poultices or added to the bath water. It is used in the treatment of respiratory infections, arthritic joints, chilblains and skin eruptions etc[238]. At a ratio of 1:3, the seed has an inhibitory action on the growth of fungus[176]. Care should be exercised in using this remedy because the seed contains substances that are extremely irritant to the skin and mucous membranes[238]. The leaves are carminative[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure  Oil

The seed contains up to 35% of a semi-drying oil[74]. It is used as a lubricant and for lighting etc[21, 46, 57, 61]. The plant can be grown as a green manure crop[17, 89]. It is very fast growing, producing a good bulk in just a few weeks from seed, but it is shallow rooted so does not do so well in dry periods[87]. It is also susceptible to all the diseases of the cabbage family such as club-root so is best avoided if this is likely to be a problem[17].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a light well-drained soil[52]. Succeeds on most soils when growing in a sunny position[238]. For best production, it requires high nutrient soils with a high level of nitrogen, but it may be grown on a wide range of soils from light to heavy, growing best on relatively heavy sandy loamy soils[269]. It is not suited to very wet soils[269]. White mustard grows best where the annual precipitation varies from 35 to 179cm, annual temperature from 5.6 to 24.9°C and pH from 4.5 to 8.2[269]. White mustard is a quick-growing long-day annual which prefers temperate climates with some humidity. It is sometimes cultivated, both in the garden and commercially, for its edible seed[4, 183]. The plant can withstand high temperatures, but very hot days during flowering and ripening may reduce seed setting and lower quality of seed[269]. There are some named varieties[183]. It is a very fast growing plant, but requires plenty of moisture for optimum growth[87]. Seed yields are usually a bit less than 1 tonne per hectare, though experimental plantings have suggested that up to 8 tonnes per hectare is possible[269]. White mustard is sometimes also grown as a seed sprout, usually with cress seeds (Lepidium sativum) to supply mustard and cress. This is a mixture of the two types of sprouted seeds, used when about 7 - 10 days old[K]. The mustard seed should be sown three days before the cress seed[238]. The plant is not very deep rooted[87], it self-sows freely when in a suitable site[14].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow in situ from early spring to late summer. Germination takes place in less than a week. The earlier sowings are for a seed crop, the later sowings are for edible leaves and green manure[82]. When sowing seed for use in mustard and cress, the seed is soaked for about 12 hours in warm water and then placed in a humid position. Traditionally, it is sown in a tray on a thin layer of soil, or on some moist blotting paper, and the tray is placed in a warm dark place for a few days to encourage rapid and rather etiolated growth. The seedlings can then be placed in a lighter position for a couple more days to turn green before being eaten. The mustard seed should be sown about 3 - 4 days later than the cress for them both to be ready at the same time[264].

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
Rhynchosinapis monensisIsle Of Man CabbageBiennial0.3 -  LMHSNM20 
Rhynchosinapis wrightiiLundy CabbagePerennial1.0 6-9  LMHSNM40 
Sinapis arvensisCharlock, Charlock mustard, Wild mustardAnnual0.8 5-9  LMHNM212

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Stephen Mifsud   Tue Feb 25 12:01:14 2003

Link: MarZ Kreations - Maltese Wild Plants Malta Online Database - Information, botanical details, high quality photos

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