The WALA Plant Library

Synonyms for Mustard: Brown Mustard, Chinese Mustard, Indian Mustard, Mustard Seed, Red Mustard
Scientific Name: Brassica nigra L.
Family: Brassicaceae (mustard family/cabbage family)


We are familiar with mustard in tubes or jars, or as the little round seeds found in a jar of pickled gherkins. But what does the plant which produces this seed look like? Black mustard, most often used for the condiment, is an annual, cultivated plant which can grow to a height of up to two metres, depending on variety, but can also be found growing wild on fallow land. From June to October its thin stems bear loosely grouped, erect, bright sulphur-yellow flowers. Each flower has four petals arranged in the form of a cross, hence the alternative family name, Cruciferae. From the flowers grow elongated pods containing four to ten dark-brown mustard seeds. The stalked leaves are elongated and entire at the top of the plant and pinnate lower down on the stem, and closely resemble those of its relative rocket (arugula).