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 Raphanus sativus subsp. var.  Radish
Habit: herbaceous
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Features: edible
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Brassicaceae > Raphanus sativus var. ,

The radish (Raphanus sativus) is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time. There are some radishes that are grown for their seeds; oilseed radishes are grown, as the name implies, for oil production.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Radish (Latin, radix, a root). A name applied to certain forms or species of Raphanus (of the family Cruciferae), particularly to the kinds that produce thickened edible roots; these roots are eaten raw, except some persons cook the large summer and winter kinds. See Raphanus.

The radish is variable in size, shape, color, and consistency of root and in season of maturity. Varieties may be classified as spring, summer, and winter radishes; or as globular, half-long, and long radishes; or as red, white, gray, and black radishes. Figs. 3331-3333 show some of the forms.

The origin and nativity of the radish are questions of dispute. For geographical reasons, it is supposed that the radish is wild in temperate Asia, probably in the oriental part, although truly indigenous radishes are doubtfully known. Not infrequently the radish runs wild about gardens, and in that case the root soon deteriorates into a small slender woody and more or less fibrous member. It has been thought by some that the radish is only a modified form of the wild charlock, or Raphanus Raphanistrum. In fact, experiments were made on the charlock by Carriere, who was able in a few years to produce edible radishes from the wild plant (cf. Cyclo. Amer. Hort. IV: 1487). While these investigations seem to be conclusive that the radish can be produced from the charlock, they nevertheless do not prove that such was the actual origin of the garden radish. DeCandolle, whilst accepting Carriere's experiments, was unable to understand how the radishes of India, China, and Japan could have originated from the charlock, since that plant is unknown in those countries and the radish has been grown there for centuries. It is possible that the radish was carried eastward from western Asia and Europe, but such has not been the general course of the migration of plants. It is possible that the radishes of the Orient are a different species from those in Europe, although they are generally regarded as the same species. Recent experiments in France (Yvonne Trouard-Riolle, "Recherches morphologiques et biologiques sur les radis cultives," Nancy, 1914) indicate that the cultivated radish has not been derived from R. Raphanistrum by cultivation, but that R. sativus is specifically distinct although little known as a wild plant. It is supposed that the Japanese radish is derived from one aboriginal form of R. sativus which is native of China and Japan, and that the European radishes have come from another aboriginal form.

The summer and winter radishes are not popular in this country unless among those of recent foreign origin. The winter radishes in particular are little grown. These are late-maturing kinds, requiring more of the season for growth, and of such large size and firm flesh that they keep well, as turnips are kept. The summer and winter radishes require no special treatment, except that plans must be made to allow them a longer period. In eastern Asia are singular kinds of radish that are little known here. In North America, the small spring radishes comprise practically the range of general cultivation.

The rat-tail radish, Fig. 3346, is grown for its much-developed soft pods, which may be used as are radishes and in the making of pickles. It is rarely grown in American gardens, although it is well worth raising as a curiosity. It is annual, and its cultivation presents no difficulties. There is also a fleshy podded radish of parts of India, with the edible pods short and soft.

The radish is one of the most popular of garden vegetables. It is of quick growth, and the product is secured at the time of the year when fresh vegetables are in demand. In order that radishes may be of the best quality, they should have made a rapid growth. The soil should be rich, light and loose,—one that drains readily and does not bake with heavy rains. Radishes fit for the table may be had in three to six weeks from the sowing, depending on the variety and the "quickness" of the soil. They are often grown as a catch-crop with other vegetables. They may be sown in the rows with early beets, peas or other crops, and they are usually mature enough for use before they seriously interfere with the main crop. Sometimes seeds of radishes are sown in the rows of slow-germinating plants, as carrots and parsnips, in order that the seedlings may mark the row and thereby facilitate tillage. Many of the radishes, in such cases, may be allowed to remain long enough to produce an edible tuber.

Aside from the root-maggot, the radish is relatively free from insects and diseases. When the root-maggot appears in any place, it is usually best to discontinue the growing of radishes in that area for two or three years, until the insects have been starved out. The maggots may be killed by an injection of bisulfide of carbon into the earth about the plants; but this is usually more expense than the product is worth. Carbolic acid emulsion may also be used. Early radishes may be grown in hotbeds or cold-frames with the greatest ease, and in these places they are usually less subject to the attacks of the cabbage maggot, since the crop is matured in advance of the maggot season.

Radishes are readily forced in the winter months. It is necessary that the house be light. The soil should be a sandy loam, free from silt and clay. It is best to grow radishes in solid beds rather than on benches. They thrive best in a low temperature. The temperature during the day should not exceed 65° to 75° in the shade, and at night it may drop to 45° to 50°. If the temperature is too high, and particularly if the beds are given bottom heat, the plants tend to run to top rather than to root. The seed is usually sown in rows from 5 to 8 inches apart, and they are thinned in the row until they stand 2 or 3 inches apart. In order that the crop shall be uniform and mature simultaneously, it is advisable either to sift the seed or to transplant the young radishes. Galloway has found by experiment that radish seeds 2/25 inch in diameter are too small to give a satisfactory and uniform crop. He therefore advises that seeds be run through sieves with a mesh of that diameter in order to separate the small specimens. In a certain experiment, he secured from two pounds of commercial seed nineteen and one-half ounces of large

seed, ten and two-third ounces small seed, the remainder being bits of gravel, sticks and other impurities. The chief value of this sorting lies in the greater uniformity of the crop. Almost every plant can then be relied upon to reach maturity. It is the practice in some houses to transplant the young radishes. The seed may be sown in flats or in beds at one end of the house, and when the radishes have made two or three leaves, they are transplanted into permanent quarters. In this operation, all the small and weak plants are discarded and the crop is therefore more uniform. It is supposed by some growers, also, that the breaking of the tap-root in the process of transplanting tends to make the tuber shorter and thicker and to induce an earlier maturity. By means of transplanting, the use of the house may be economized. Whilst one crop is growing, another may be started in a seed-bed or in flats. As soon as the first crop is removed, the ground may be thoroughly raked, fertilized, and the new plants put in. In some cases the new crop is transplanted between the rows of the old crop a few days before the latter is removed; but, unless the soil is rich and in good condition, it is better to wait until the crop is removed in order that the land may be thoroughly fitted for the new plants. Radishes are often forced in connection with lettuce, and they thrive well in the same temperature. The varieties most used for forcing, as also for the early spring crop in the garden, are the globular or half-long kinds. With these varieties, a depth of soil of 4 inches is sufficient for good results. L. H. B.

Another view of the cultivation of the radish.

There are few garden roots in which fresh crispness is more essential to palatability than in the radish, or which can be more easily held in prime condition for so long after gathering, and usually one is able to secure roots of excellent quality from the market. On the other hand, an abundant family supply can be grown on a small area and the radishes can be quickly gathered and fitted for the table, so that every country garden or even town yard may be easily made to furnish a family supply. Radishes are cool-weather plants, and although when young or quickly grown they may be killed by severe or long-continued freezing, they will endure a moderate frost without injury; the plants do not thrive and the roots become tough and unpalatable if grown in a temperature above 60°. Radishes have been in cultivation since earliest historical times and there has been developed a wide range of varietal forms. In some varieties the plants develop very rapidly and are well suited for raising under glass or for growing in gardens in the spring and early summer, while other sorts are of slower growth and come to greatest perfection when planted so that they will escape the summer heat and develop during the cooler weather of autumn.

Forcing varieties.

A group of varieties of radishes has been developed in which the roots reach usable size very quickly,—in some stocks by the time the cotyledons are full sized and before more than three or four leaves have developed,—so that under favorable conditions a culture may be planted, grown to maturity, marketed and the beds made ready for a second planting within thirty or forty days. In this group the roots are in prime condition but a short time, quickly becoming pithy and unpalatable, particularly if subjected for even a few hours to temperatures above 60°F., and uniformity as to maturity is an important quality. Often in a lot of seed of uniform varietal character, the seed varies greatly in size of grains and it has been found that plants from the larger seed mature some days more quickly than those from the smaller grains, so that the sifting out and rejection of the smaller seed is often desirable.

There are a number of varietal forms suited for forcing, ranging in shape from those distinctly flat, through flattened, thickened or long turnips-shaped, and globular, to tankard or half-long, and in color from white through various shades of red and yellow to dark purple. In some varieties the color is of uniform shade over the whole root, in others more or less of the lower part is white, while in other strains the generally white surface is marked with dots and splashes of red. In the forcing of radishes, uniformity as to rapidity of maturing and in attractiveness of color are the most important qualities. The success of any culture is very dependent upon the varietal character of the seed used, and seedsmen are continually offering under new names stocks that are in reality but superior strains of the older varieties.

Spring radishes.

These are slower in coming into usable size than the forcing sorts, but the plants are larger, hardier both to cold and heat, and the roots are larger and continue in prime edible condition much longer. In garden cultures, the first sowing should be made as soon as the ground can be worked and ordinarily it will furnish usable roots in twenty-five to thirty days and remain in edible condition from five to twenty days. To secure a succession, two to five sowings should be made at intervals of ten to twenty days, but it is useless to attempt to grow radishes in the hot weather of midsummer, as they would not only make a poor growth but the roots would be tough, strong-flavored and unpalatable.

Radishes require for their best, or even for a good development, a rich friable soil which has been made so by heavy manuring and judicious culture in previous years rather than by recent working. The use of fresh stable-manure is very likely to result in ill-shaped coarsegrained strong-flavored roots, and the uniformity and symmetry of the root is very dependent upon the fertility and friability of the soil. The seed should lie some ten to twenty grains to the foot, in drills about 2 inches deep, and covered with about an inch of soil. It has been found advantageous, just before the starting plants begin to push through the soil, to cover the row with a liberal sprinkling of either tobacco dust, or of land plaster and kerosene, as a repellant to black beetle and other insects.

Seedsmen offer a wide range of varietal forms, ranging from the quick-maturing red or white Olive-Shaped, the Half-Long or the Long Scarlet, to the later-maturing longer-seasoned Chartier, or White Vienna, and the still larger later Strasburg or Stuttgart, which might be classed as summer varieties, although when planted so as to mature in the heat of midsummer they are likely to be strong-flavored and unpalatable.

Fall and winter radishes.

There are varieties which develop to usable size more slowly than the preceding and which remain crisp and tender much longer. They should not be planted until midsummer or later so that they may come to maturity in the cooler weather of autumn. These require more room for their best development than the spring varieties but are even more responsive to fertile well-prepared soil and frequent cultivation. They may be used as they reach desirable size and will stand considerable frost without injury, but should be pulled and stored much as one would carrots or parsnips so as to avoid severe freezing. The Long Black Spanish, the White Russian, the Chinese Scarlet Winter and Deep Scarlet Panier, the latter one of the most symmetrical and beautifully colored roots in cultivation, belong to this class which is well worthy of more general cultivation.

Chinese and Japanese radishes.

These are possibly the oldest of cultivated kinds. The large many-leaved plants are 2 feet or more across and form immense roots which not infrequently weigh forty to fifty pounds. The flesh is less agreeable in texture and flavor than that of the sorts more commonly grown, and though they have been loudly exploited by seedsmen, they have never come into very general cultivation in this country, except by the Chinese and Japanese who use them as a cooked vegetable more than as a salad.

As grown there, carefully bred stock-seed is sown thickly in narrow rows and when the most mature roots reach usable size, the crop is pulled, all immature or off-character roots are rejected, and those which are of satisfactory form, size, and color are promptly reset about 10 inches apart in rows about 3 feet apart and soon start into fresh growth and mature a crop of seed.

In this country, seed of both the forcing and larger-rooted sorts are commonly planted ten to twenty to the yard in drills, 3 feet apart, and when the plants are mature enough to indicate their varietal quality, the plantings are carefully gone over, the inferior and superfluous roots pulled and destroyed, and superior ones to furnish the desired quantity of stock-seed are pulled and set in a block by themselves, where there will be little danger of the flowers being fertilized by pollen from other plants.

The yield and quality of seed is very dependent upon uniformly favorable weather conditions inducing a quick, even growth, fertilization of the flowers by insects, and freedom from storms or exceptionally high temperatures. A hive or two of bees in the field will often materially increase the yield of seed. When the later and the most immature pods begin to ripen, the plants may be cut and laid in windrows or piles not over 3 to 4 feet deep on the threshing-floors and allowed to remain from ten to fifty days (depending upon weather conditions), until the stems are fully cured and dry. The seed may then be threshed out either with flails or machine and sacked, but must be watched, and if necessary, winnowed out, to prevent heating. In some localities it is a better practice, particularly with the later sorts, to leave the harvested plants under shelter until midwinter or early spring before threshing. Again, in case of some of the later harder-fleshed sorts, better yields are secured by not planting until autumn, and before severe weather, pulling, topping, and storing the small roots until spring, much as is done with seed-crops of beets or turnips.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


Growing radishplants

Summer radishes mature rapidly, with many varieties germinating in 3–7 days, and reaching maturity in three to four weeks.[1][2] A common garden crop in the U.S., the fast harvest cycle makes them a popular choice for children's gardens.[1] Harvesting periods can be extended through repeated plantings, spaced a week or two apart.[3]

Radishes grow best in full sun[4] and light, sandy loams with pH 6.5 - 7.0.[5] They are in season from April to June and from October to January in most parts of North America; in Europe and Japan they are available year-round due to the plurality of varieties grown.[citation needed]

As with other root crops, tilling the soil helps the roots grow.[3] However, radishes are used in no-till farming to help reverse compaction.

Most soil types will work, though sandy loams are particularly good for winter and spring crops, while soils that form a hard crust can impair growth.[3] The depth at which seeds are planted affects the size of the root, from 1 cm deep recommended for small radishes to 4 cm for large radishes.[2]


Pests and diseases


Broadly speaking, radishes can be categorized into four main types (summer, fall, winter, and spring) and a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, such as red, pink, white, gray-black or yellow radishes, with round or elongated roots that can grow longer than a parsnip.

Spring or summer radishes

Sometimes referred to as European radishes or spring radishes if they're planted in cooler weather, summer radishes are generally small and have a relatively short 3-4 week cultivation time.[citation needed]

  • The April Cross is a giant white radish hybrid that bolts very slowly.
  • Cherry Belle is a bright red-skinned round variety with a white interior.[1] It is familiar in North American supermarkets.
  • Champion is round and red-skinned like the Cherry Belle, but with slightly larger roots, up to about 5 cm, and a milder flavor.[1]
  • Red King has a mild flavor, with good resistance to club root, a problem that can arise from poor drainage.[1]
  • Snow Belle is an all-white variety of radish, similar in shape to the Cherry Belle.[1]
  • White Icicle or just Icicle is a white carrot-shaped variety, around 10–12 cm long, dating back to the 16th century. It slices easily, and has better than average resistance to pithiness.[1][2]
  • French Breakfast is an elongated red-skinned radish with a white splash at the root end. It is typically slightly milder than other summer varieties, but is among the quickest to turn pithy.[2]
  • Plum Purple a purple-fuchsia radish that tends to stay crisp longer than average.[2]
  • Gala and Roodbol are two varieties popular in the Netherlands in a breakfast dish, thinly sliced on buttered bread.[1]
  • Easter Egg is not an actual variety, but a mix of varieties with different skin colors,[2] typically including white, pink, red, and purple radishes. Sold in markets or seed packets under the name, the seed mixes can extend harvesting duration from a single planting, as different varieties may mature at different times.[2]

Winter varieties


Black Spanish or Black Spanish Round occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish or known by the French name Gros Noir d'Hiver. It dates in Europe to 1548,[6] and was a common garden variety in England and France the early 19th century.[7] It has a rough black skin with hot-flavored white flesh, is round or irregularly pear shaped,[8] and grows to around 10 cm in diameter.

Daikon refers to a wide variety of winter radishes from east Asia. While the Japanese name daikon has been adopted in English, it is also sometimes called the Japanese radish, Chinese radish, or Oriental radish.[9] In areas with a large South Asian population, it is marketed as mooli. Daikon commonly have elongated white roots, although many varieties of daikon exist. One well known variety is April Cross, with smooth white roots.[1][2] The New York Times describes Masato Red and Masato Green varieties as extremely long, well suited for fall planting and winter storage.[1] The Sakurajima daikon is a hot flavored variety which is typically grown to around 10 kg, but which can grow to 30 kg when left in the ground.[1][10]

Seed pod varieties

Radish Seedpods

The seeds of radishes grow in silique (widely referred to as pods, but technically this is incorrect), following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, spicy addition to salads.[2] Some varieties are grown specifically for their seeds or seed pods, rather than their roots. The Rat-tailed radish, an old European variety thought to have come from East Asia centuries ago, has long, thin, curly pods which can exceed 20 cm in length. In the 17th century, the pods were often pickled and served with meat.[2] The München Bier variety supplies spicy seeds that are sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to beer in Germany.[11]



  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Faust, Joan Lee. (1996-03-03.) "Hail the Speedy Radish, in All Its Forms." The New York Times, via nytimes.com archives. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Peterson, Cass. (1999-05-02.) "Radishes: Easy to Sprout, Hard to Grow Right." The New York Times, via nytimes.com archives. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Beattie, J. H. and W. R. Beattie. (March 1938.) "Production of Radishes." U.S. Department of Agriculture, leaflet no. 57, via University of North Texas Government Documents A to Z Digitization Project website. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
  4. Cornell University. Growing Guide: Radishes
  5. Dainello, Frank J. (November 2003.) "Radish Crop Guide" Texas Cooperative Extension, Horticulture Crop Guides Series
  6. Aiton, William Townsend. (1812.) "Hortus Kewensis; Or, A Catalogue of the Plants Cultivated in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, Second Edition, Vol. IV" Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown: London. Page 129. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
  7. Lindley, George. (1831.) "A Guide to the Orchard and Kitchen Garden: Or, an Account of the Most Valuable Fruit and Vegetables Cultivated in Great Britain." Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green: London. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
  8. McIntosh, Charles. (1828.) "The Practical Gardener, and Modern Horticulturist." Thomas Kelly: London. Page 288.
  9. (2004.) "Daikon." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, via dictionary.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
  10. (2002-02-10.) "29 kg radish wins contest." Kyodo World News Service, via highbeam.com (fee for full access.) Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
  11. Williams, Sally (2004) "With Some Radishes, It's About The Pods", Kitchen Gardners International. Retrieved on June 21, 2008.

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