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Rape

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  • Botanical: Brassica napus
  • Family: Brassicaceae
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Rape

Botanical

Brassica napus

Family

Brassicaceae

Known as

Rape, Brassica napus, Oilseed Rape, Rapa, Rappi, Rapaseed, Canola,

Collection Times

May to August.

Parts Used

leaves, seed

Aroma

fresh

Medicinal

bronchitis, bronchitis, cancer, coughs, earache, joint pain, rheumatism

Properties

diuretic

Extraction

cold pressed

Description

The White Mustard is an erect annual, about a foot or more in height, with pinnatifid leaves and large, yellow, cruciferous flowers. It closely resembles the Black Mustard, but is smaller. The fruit of the two plants differs considerably in shape, those of the White Mustard being more or less horizontal and hairy, while Black Mustard pods are erect and smooth. The pods of White Mustard are spreading, roundish pods, ribbed and swollen where the seeds are situated, and provided with a very large flattened, swordshaped beak at the end.

Each pod contains four to six globular seeds, about 1/12 inch in diameter, yellow both on the surface and internally. The seed-coat, though appearing smooth, on examination with a lens, is seen to be covered with minute pits and to be finely reticulated.

Properties & Uses

The seed contains up to 45% of an edible semi-drying oil, it is used as a luminant, lubricant, in soap making etc. Rapeseed oil has potential market in detergent lubrication oils, emulsifying agents, polyamide fibres, and resins, and as a vegetable wax substitute.

According to the Chemical Marketing Reporter (April 26, 1982) "the most common use for the oil is still in the production or erucic acid, a fatty acid used in turn in the manufacture of other chemicals. The seed husks are used in plastering house walls. A good green manure, the deep taproot improves drainage and loosens heavy soils

Traditional Use

The root is emollient and diuretic. The juice of the roots is used in the treatment of chronic coughs and bronchial catarrh. The seed, powdered, with salt is said to be a folk remedy for cancer. Rape oil is used in massage and oil baths, it is believed to strengthen the skin and keep it cool and healthy. With camphor it is applied as a remedy for rheumatism and stiff joints. It is dropped into the ear to relieve earaches

Cautions

The oil contained in the seed of some varieties of this species can be rich in erucic acid which is toxic. However, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid.

Distribution

Europe - Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain

Constituents

The epidermal cells of the seed coat of White Mustard seeds contain mucilage, and the cotyledons contain from 23 to 26 per cent of a fixed oil, which consists of the glycerides of oleic, stearic and erucic or brassic acids. The seeds also contain the crystalline glucoside Sinalbin and the enzyme Myrosin, which unite to form a volatile oil, called Sinalbin Mustard Oil, used for various purposes, though not so pungent as that of Black Mustard.