Brassica juncea (L.) Czern.
Mustard greens, Leaf mustard, Indian mustard, Rai, Brown mustard
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Young tender leaves of mustard greens are used in salads or mixed with other
salad greens. Older leaves with stems may be eaten fresh, canned or frozen,
for potherbs, and to a limited extent in salads. Mustard greens are often
cooked with ham or salt pork, and may be used in soups and stews. Although
widely and extensively grown as a vegetable, it is being grown more for its
seeds which yield an essential oil and condiment. Easier to grow than Black
Mustard (B. nigra), it has nearly replaced it in brown mustard
preparations since 1945. Mustard Oil is one of the major edible oils in India,
the fixed oil content of rai varying between 28.6% and 45.7%. Oil is also used
for hair oil, lubricants and, in Russia, as a substitute for olive oil. Adding
1.12.2% mustard oil to fresh apple cider retards fermentation. Seed residue
is used as cattle feed and in fertilizers (Reed, 1976).
Reported to be anodyne, apertif, diuretic, emetic, rubefacient, and stimulant,
Indian Mustard is a folk remedy for arthritis, footache, lumbago, and
rheumatism (Duke and Wain 1981). Seed used for tumors in China. Root used as
a galactagogue in Africa. Sun-dried leaf and flower are smoked in Tanganyika
to "get in touch with the spirits." Ingestion may impart a body odor repellent
to mosquitoes (Burkill, 1966). Believed to be aperient and tonic, the volatile
oil is used as a counterirritant and stimulant. In Java the plant is used as
an antisyphilitic emmenagogue. Leaves applied to the forehead are said to
relieve headache (Burkill, 1966). In Korea, the seeds are used for abscesses,
colds, lumbago, rheumatism, and stomach disorders. Chinese eat the leaves in
soups for bladder, inflammation or hemorrhage. Mustard oil is used for skin
eruptions and ulcers (Perry, 1980).
Mustard greens are high in Vitamin A and C, and iron; a cupful (140 gm)
providing an adult with ca 60% of his recommended daily Vitamin A requirement,
all the Vitamin C requirement and about one-fifth the iron. Per 100 g, the
leaf is reported to contain 24 calories, 91.8 g H2O, 2.4 g protein, 0.4 g fat,
4.3 g total carbohydrate, 1.0 g fiber, 1.1 g ash, 160 mg Ca, 48 mg P, 2.7 mg
Fe, 24 mg Na, 297 mg K, 1825 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.06 mg thiamine, 0.14
mg riboflavin, 0.8 mg niacin, and 73 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the root is
reported to contain 38 calories, 85.2 g H2O, 1.9 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 8.8 g
total carbohydrate, 2.0 g fiber, 3.8 g ash, 111 mg Ca, 65 mg P, 1.6 mg Fe, 447
mg K, 45 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.05 mg thiamine, 0.12 mg riboflavin, 0.7
mg niacin, and 21 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain
6.2 g H2O, 24.6 g protein, 35.5 g fat, 28.4 g total carbohydrate, 8.0 g fiber,
and 5.3 g ash. Seed sterols contain 19.2% brassicasterol (9.1% esterified),
23.6% free campesterol (34.0% esterified), 57.2% sitosterol (55.2% esterified),
1.7% esterified D-5-avenasterol, and a trace of D-7-stigmasterol.
Contains the glucosinolate sinigrin (potassium myronate) and the enzyme myrosin
(myrosinase); sinapic acid; sinapine (sinapic acid choline ester); fixed oils
(25 to 37%) consisting mainly of glycerides of erucic, eicosenoic, arachidic,
nonadecanoic, behenic, oleic, and palmitic acids, among others; proteins (e.g.,
globulins); and mucilage (Leung, 1980). Sinigrin on hydrolysis by myrosin
(myrosinase) yields allyl isothiocyanate, glucose, and potassium bisulfate.
Allyl isothiocyanate is volatile; its yield from B. juncea is 0.25 to
1.4% (usually ca 0.9%). Other minor volatile components that are also set free
by enzymatic hydrolysis include methyl, isopropyl, sec-butyl, butyl, 3-butenyl,
4-pentenyl, phenyl, 3-methylthiopropyl, benzyl, and b-phenylethyl
isothiocyanates. Allyl isothiocyanate is irritant, rubefacient and vesicant.
It is also lachrymatory and has counterirritant properties when greatly diluted
(e.g., 1 in 50). It should not be tasted or inhaled when undiluted. It is one
of the most toxic essential oils. Isothiocyanates such as those present in
mustard have been implicated in endemic goiter (hypothyroidism with thyroid
enlargement). They also have been reported to produce goiter in experimental
animals. Volatile mustard oil has strong antimicrobial (bacteria and fungi)
properties. Sinigrin has been reported to be toxic to certain insect larvae
but harmless to others.
Perennial herb, usually grown as an annual or biennial, up to 1 m or more tall;
branches long, erect or patent; lower leaves petioled, green, sometimes with a
whitish bloom, ovate to obovate, variously lobed with toothed, scalloped or
frilled edges, lyrate-pinnatisect, with 12 lobes or leaflets on each side and
a larger sparsely setose, terminal lobe; upper leaves subentire, short
petioled, 3060 mm long, 23.5 mm wide, constricted at intervals, sessile,
attenuate into a tapering, seedless, short beak 510 mm long. Rooting depth
90120 cm. Seeds about 5,6606,000 per 0.01 kg (1/3 oz).
Reported from the African and Eurosiberian Centers of Diversity, Indian
Mustard, or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate drought, high pH, insects, low
pH, salt, smog, and weeds. According to IBPGR's Genetic Resources of
Cruciferous Crops, the oilseed is more properly called Indian Mustard, the
leaf mustard, Chinese Mustard. Several types are recognized: bulbifolia,
crispifolia, foliosa, integrifolia, napiformis, and rugosa. China is
considered the original region of varietal differentiation, with the highest
level of differentiation around Sichuan. Two forms are grown in the United
States: a brown-seeded variety (B. besseriana) and a yellow-seeded
variety known as Oriental or McCormic mustard. Another form is Ethiopian
rapeseed or Abyssinian mustard (B. carinata), cultivated in small lots
in Ethiopia and Eritrea, grown throughout the highlands in small fields near
villages, mainly for its tender green leaves and sprouts, which are boiled and
eaten, and from which they extract 3538% oil from the seeds, exporting up to
8,000 tons of the fixed oil. Palai rape (B. rugosa), Asl-rai or Sarepta
mustard (B. besseriana) are other well-known cultivars. In India, some
varieties include: Laha, Lahi, Lahta, Desi Rai, R.T. 11, Raya 2.8. Chief
varieties grown for greens are: 'Florida Broad Leaf', with large thick broad
oval leaves, toothed margin, about 50 days; 'Large Smooth Leaf', with large
broad oval, dark green leaves, toothed margin, about 50 days; 'Southern Giant
Curled', with large wide bright green and yellow winged leaves, very curly on
edges, 40 days; 'Fordhook Fancy', with large dark green deeply curled, fringed,
recurved leaves, slow to bolt, about 40 days; 'Tendergreen', with large
rosettes of mild-flavored, dark green, smooth, unlobed leaves, about 45 days.
'White London' is one of the best known varieties. 'Ostrich Plume', 'Giant
Ostrich Plume', and 'Giant Curled' are varieties of B. japonica with
large curled leaves and grown to some extent in southern United States.
'Trowse' is grown in England. Four recognized taxonomic varieties, based upon
cutting of the leaves, are: crispifolia, foliosa, longidens, and
multisecta. (2n = 36)
Primary center of origin thought to be central Asia (northwest India), with
secondary centers in central and western China, eastern India, Burma, and
through Iran to Near East. Has been cultivated for centuries in many parts of
Eurasia. The principle growing countries are Bangladesh, Central Africa,
China, India, Japan, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as southern Russia north of
the Caspian Sea. Considered a principle weed in Canada, a common weed in
Argentina and Australia, and a weed in Fiji, Mexico, and the United States,
Indian Mustard is widely distributed as a cultivar and escape in subtropical
and temperate climates.
Ranging from Boreal Wet to Tropical Thorn through Tropical Wet Forest Life
Zones, Indian Mustard is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 500 to
4,200 mm, annual temperature of 6 to 27°C, and pH of 4.3 to 8.3. Mustard
greens is a hardy, cool-season vegetable, growing well at monthly average
temperatures of 15 to 18°C. Rai is grown mostly as a rainfed crop but
grows well in some dry parts of northern and central Africa, northern India,
and the interior of China. It is moderately tolerant of soil acidity,
prefering a pH from 5.5 to 6.8. Thrives in areas with hot days and cool nights
and is fairly drought resistant.
Seeds sown in very early spring for spring use and in the fall for winter use.
Successive plantings 1014 days apart insure an all season crop. Sown in
drills 3045 cm apart; plants thinned to about 15 cm as they become crowded in
the row. Control of weeds is essential, and 1 to 3 intercultivations may be
necessary. When grown for seed, offtype plants should be rogued before
flowering. In India, for pure culture, seeding is at a rate of 46 kg/ha; when
cultivated with peas or barley, about 3 kg/ha. This mustard requires a good
sandy loamy soil, with about 5075 kg N, 100150 kg acid phosphate, and 5075
kg potash per hectare. Manure or soil improving crops may also be used.
Nitrogen increases seed yield. This crop should not follow other Brassica
crops in rotation. For disease control, it is best grown once every 34 years.
Growing period is from 4060 days, depending on variety and weather conditions.
Plants generally harvested before fruits are fully ripe to reduce shattering,
harvesting usually in early morning. Entire plants are either pulled out by
hand or cut a few cm above ground with sickles. Plants are tied into small
sheaves and dried in the sun for 410 days. In India and other places where
the seed is the main product, harvesting, threshing, and winnowing are carried
out by the family. Extraction of oil from the seed is by rotary mill,
expeller, and hydraulic processes. For Mustard greens, plants are cut off at
ground level when they are young and tender. Leaves 1530 cm long are
preferred for marketing. Greens are cooled to near 0°C immediately
after cutting and kept at or near that temperature during transportation and
marketing. Humidity is kept at 9095% by use of ice over the load or in the
packages. Mustard greens are uually shipped in bushel baskets or wire-banded
crates. Often retailed in plastic film packages of various amounts (usually
300600 g) or in bulk and sold by the pound or peck.
As much as 12 MT leaf is reported per hectare. In India, seed yields of rai
range from 900 to 1,235 kg/ha; in the United States about 1,100 kg/ha, in dry
seasons this increases up to 60%. Mustard greens yields average about 12
tons/ha. In the United States, mustard greens are grown mostly in California
and the Pacific Northwest, about 100250 tons per year, with about 50,000 tons
being grown in the United States yearly. Mustard greens are on market all year
round. Greens are also grown in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, Arizona,
and the states from Texas to Florida, north to Arkansas and Tennessee. Annual
imports in the United States tons per year. In United States, Canada, and
western Europe, most of the crops are grown for mustard greens, a large number
of horticultural varieties or strains being grown, mostly of Japanese or
Chinese stock. Montana is the largest mustard seed producing state, the oil
being expressed as a preliminary step in making food products and has been used
as a special lubricant in place of rapeseed oil. Alberta is the principal
mustard growing region in Canada, up to 41,000 ha. Most of the crop in Canada
is exported to Europe, some being used locally for expressing the oil and for
In one Indian study, the highest seed yield was 1.13 MT/ha from crops sown
October 15, with 200,000 plants/hectare. Seeds sown on November 4 yielded only
0.49 MT/ha (Patel et al, 1980). In another study (Maity et al, 1980) comparing
irrigating and nitrogen levels, seed yields were 0.822.37 MT/ha, the maximum
being irrigated and fertilized with 150 N/ha. Other Indian studies suggest
1,0002,000 kg seed per hectare, with an oil content of 3038%. In head on
comparative trials in Davis, California, Knowles et al, (1981) reported seed
yields of 1,7372,549 kg/ha for B. juncea, 9802,003 for
B. campestris, 2,0632,852 for B. carinata,
and 1,2022,083 for B. napus. Pryde and Doty (1981) suggest average oil
yields of 409 kg/ha from a seed yield of 1,166 as an overall Canadian rapeseed
All varieties of B. campestris, B. napus, and B. juncea, as well
as the species themselves, intercross freely, so all must be sufficiently
isolated for seed production. B. juncea is two-thirds self-pollinating
and one-third insect pollinating. B. juncea is less susceptible to
insect pests and disease than other Indian Brassicas but is susceptible to
some. Fungi known to attack rai or leaf mustard are: Albugo candida, Albugo
macrospora, Alternaria brassicae, Alternaria saccardoi, Ascochyta
brassicae-junceae, Cercospora brassicicola, Cercosporella albomaculans,
Cercosporella brassicae, Cladosporium brassicicola, Collectotrichum
higginsianum, Cystopus candidus, Erysiphe polygoni, Ischnochaeta polygoni,
Macrophomina phaseoli, Mycosphaerella brassicicola, Ophiolobus braminis,
Ovularia indica, Peronospora parasitica, Plasmodiophora brassicae, Puccinia
aristidae, Pythium debaryanum, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotinia
sclerotiorum, Sclerotium rolfsii. Bacteria include: Erwinia
carotovora and Xanthomonas campestris. Most prevalent virus
diseases are: Rape mosaic, Brassica virus 2, Turnip yellow mosaic, Yellow
virus, Cabbage black ringspot, Kukitachina mosaic, Cucumber mosaic, Radish
mosaic. Following nematodes have been isolated from rai or mustard greens:
Heterodera cruciferae, Heterodera schachtii, Heterodera trifolii,
Meloidogyne hapla, Meloidogyne incognita, and var. acrita, and
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Burkill, J.H. 1966. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay peninsula.
Art Printing Works, Kuala Lumpur. 2 vols.
- Duke, J.A. and Wain, K.K. 1981. Medicinal plants of the world. Computer index
with more than 85,000 entries. 3 vols.
- Knowles, P.F., Kearney, T.E., and Cohen, D.B. 1981. Species of rapeseed and
mustard as oil crops in Califonrina. p. 255268. In: Pryde, E.H., Princen,
L.H., and Mukherjee, K.D. (eds.), New sources of fats and oils. AOCS Monograph
9. American Oil Chemists' Society. Champaign, IL.
- Leung, A.Y. 1980. Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food,
drugs, and cosmetics. John Wiley & Sons. New York.
- Maity, P.K., Sengupta, A.K., and Jana, P.K. 1980. Response of mustard variety
varuna (Brassica juncea) to levels of irrigation and nitrogen. Indian
Agriculturist 24(1):4347. FCAB. 00658 (035).
- Patel, J.R., Parmar, M.T., and Patel, J.C. 1980. Effect of different sowing
dates, spacings, and plant populations on yield of mustard. Indian J. Agron.
- Perry, L.M. 1980. Medicinal plants of east and southeast Asia. MIT Press,
- Pryde, E.H. and Doty, H.O., Jr. 1981. World fats and oils situation. p. 314.
In: Pryde, E.H., Princen, L.H., and Mukherjee, K.D. (eds.), New sources of fats
and oils. AOCS Monograph 9. American Oil Chemists' Society. Champaign, IL.
- Reed, C.F. 1976. Information summaries on 1000 economic plants. Typescripts
submitted to the USDA.
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997