Brassica nigra (L.) Koch
Black or Brown mustard
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Black mustard is cultivated for its seeds, the source of commercial
table-mustard, used as a condiment and medicine. Seeds contain both a fixed
and an essential oil, used as a condiment, illuminant, lubricant, and soap
constituent. Black mustard is mixed with white mustard (Sinapis alba)
to make mustard flour, used in various condiments as "English Mustard" when
mixed with water and "Continental Mustard" with vinegar. Mustard flowers are
good honey producers. Mustard is agriculturally used as a cover crop. Mustard
oil (allyl isothiocyanate) is used in cat and dog repellents.
Mustard is considered diuretic, emetic, rubefacient and stimulant. Mustard
plaster is used externally for many afflictions, as arthritis and rheumatism.
A liquid prepared from the seed, when gargled, is said to help tumors of the
"sinax." Seed decoctions are used for indurations of the liver and spleen. It
is also used for carcinoma, throat tumors, and imposthumes. Mustard relieves
congestion by drawing the blood to the surface as in head afflictions,
neuralgia, spasms. Hot water poured on bruised seeds makes a stimulant foot
bath, good for colds and headaches. Old herbals suggested mustard for
alopecia, epilepsy, snakebite, and toothache. Mustard Oil is said to stimulate
hair growth. Mustard is also recommended as an aperient ingredient of tea,
useful in hiccough. Mustard flour is considered antiseptic. Oil also useful
in pleurisy and pneumonia.
Most important consituent in mustard is a glucoside sinigrin, or potassium
myronate, which, upon hydrolysis, yields allyl isothiocyanate, a volatile
liquid known as Oil of Mustard. Sinigrin is toxic to certain insect larvae,
harmless to others (Leung, 1980). Per 100 g, the leaf is reported to contain
31 calories, 89.5 g H2O, 3.0 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 5.6 g total carbohydrate,
1.1 g fiber, 1.4 g ash, 183 mg Ca, 50 mg P, 3.0 mg Fe, 32 mg Na, 377 mi, K,
4200 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.11 mg thiamine, 0.22 mg riboflavin, 0.8 mg
niacin, and 97 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the mature seed is reported to
contain 7.6 g H2O, 29.1 g protein, 28.2 g fat, 30.2 g total carbohydrate, 11.0
g fiber, and 0.5 g ash.
Ingestion of powdered mustard seed or of volatile oil of mustard in sufficient
amount results in gastroenteritis "which may prove fatal" (Watt and
Much-branched, aromatic, fast-growing, pubescent annual herb, to 4 m tall, with
taproot; lower leaves lyrate-pinnatisect, With 13 pairs of lateral lobes and
larger terminal lobe, hispid on both surfaces; upper leaves linear-oblong,
entire or sinuate, glabrous, dentate, all leaves petiolate; flowers in
enlongate racemes, regular petals yellow, 79 mm long, stamens 6, fruit a
silique, long slender beaked pod, 1.02.0 cm long, smooth cylindrical, 1.52 mm
wide with 1012 seeds, beak seedless, on short (2.56 mm) pedicels; seeds dark
reddish-brown to black, oval to spherical, about 1 mm in diameter, more or less
covered with white pellicle, taste pungent. Fl. MayJune; fr. JuneOct.
Many cvs developed, include 'English', 'Barn, 'Trieste' and 'California'.
Reported from the Eurosiberian, and African Centers of Diversity, black mustard
or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate aluminum, laterite, low pH, poor soil,
smog and weed. (n = 411, 2n = 16.)
Origin unknown, but some believe it to be from a Mediterranean center with a
secondary center in the Near East. Now widespread in Central and South Europe,
and other areas with a temperate climate. A frequent weed of waste places and
Black mustard, adapted to a wide variety of climatic conditions, is mainly
suited to tropical areas, and grown chiefly as a rainfed crop in areas of low
or moderate rainfall. Suited to many types of soils except very heavy clays;
grows best on light sandy loams, or deep rich fertile soils. Ranging from
Boreal Wet through Tropical Desert to Dry Forest Life Zones, black mustard is
reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3 to 17 dm (mean of 40 cases =
8.5), annual temperature of 6 to 27°C (mean of 40 cases = 12.7), and
pH of 4.9 to 8.2 (mean of 34 cases = 6.5) (Duke, 1978, 1979).
Land should be prepared in fall to a fine tilth, as the seeds are very small.
Seed may be sown with seeder in early spring at rate of 34 kg/ha. In Sri
Lanka, seed is broadcast, or, as a pure crop, drilled in rows 22 cm apart.
Seeds germinate quickly, first leaves being visible within 48 hours after
sowing. Plants are thinned to stand ca 1050 cm apart in row. In Sri Lanka
often intercropped with kurakkan (Eleusine coracana).
Flowers about 45 days after sowing, and is ready to harvest in another 67
weeks. In the United States, planting, harvesting and threshing are
mechanized. Crop is cut green in August (mainly by combine in Montana), and
allowed to ripen. To avoid shattering, pods are harvested when still closed
but mature, preferably early in the day. Sometimes plants are cut and dried on
the threshing floor prior to threshing by beating with wooden flails.
Pure crop of mustard under good cultural practice and mechanized harvesting in
the United States yields up to 1,100 kg seed/ha, compared to 400 kg/ha in Sri
Lanka. Recently Danish mustard seed brought $0.20 kg; Montana seed, $0.21 kg;
Oriental seed, $0.18 kg. Mustard seed is cultivated mainly in Europe, Russia,
Syria, India, China, North Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand,
and the United States. Mustard seed is available in markets from cultivated
strains and from imports.
After only 30 days, 720970 kg DM are available from poor soils in India, of
which 137176 kg are extractable protein. At 40 days, 1,4501,610 kg DM with
226283 kg extractable protein, at 52 days, 1,6802,230 kg DM with 215329 kg
extractable protein (Matai et al., 1973). In a suitable cool but frost free
climate, such yields might possibly be repeated every 45 days or so with annual
yields closer to 2,400 extractable protein from 1218 MT/ha.
Black Mustard is insect-pollinated. Bees collect the copious mustard nectar
and produce a mild-flavored, light-colored honey. Mildews appear on the leaves
causing malformation of flower heads and pods, a situation often controlled by
sulfur-dusting or spraying with Bordeaux Mixture. Main insect pest is Mustard
sawfly (Athalia lugens proxima), larvae of which feed on the leaves.
Nematodes include Ditylenchus dipsaci, Heterodera crucifera, H. schachtii,
Meloidogyne arenaria, M. hapla, Nacobbus aberrans, Xiphinema indicum,
Pratylenchus penetrans, and P. pratensis (Golden, p.c., 1984).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Leung, A.Y. 1980. Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food,
drugs, and cosmetics. John Wiley & Sons. New York.
- Matai, S., Bagchi, D.K., and Chandra, S. 1973. Optimal seed rate and fertilizer
dose for maximum yield of extracted protein from the leaves of mustard
(Brassica nigra Koch) and turnip (Brassica rapa L.). Indian J.
Agr. Sci. 43(2):165169.
- Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants
of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. E.&S. Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997