Sinapis alba L.
Syn.:Brassica hirta Moench
Brassica alba (L.) Rabenh.
White or Yellow mustard
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
White mustard is grown for its seed, used as a condiment and for soils they
yield; as a salad plant; and as a green fodder crop or as green manure. Seeds
yield 2035% of a golden-yellow mild tasting oil which is used as lubricant and
illuminant. White Mustard Oil is also a by-product of the condiment industry
in countries where the seed is partially deolated before milling. Oil also
used in Sweden in the manufacture of mayonnaise. Seedling used as a salad
plant, eaten raw in salads and sandwiches. Leaves are used as potherbs. In
the US mustard is second in demand only to pepper among spices. Commercial
mustard usually combines white mustard for pungency with black mustard for
aroma, and the yellow color is due to the addition of turmeric. Vinegar is
added to prevent the speedy decomposition experienced with mustard freshly
prepared from the dry powder. Whole seeds are used for pickles and may be
boiled with such vegetables as cabbage and sauerkraut. Plant grown as a cover
crop because of its rapid growth. Oil cake used for fattening sheep.
The seed or its oil is taken both internally or externally, for cancers,
growths of the abdomen, spleen, stomach, throat, uterus or wrist indurations.
Medicinally, seeds are considered diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant,
irritant, and stimulant, and are used in poultices for acute local pain,
pneumonia, bronchitis, and other diseases of the resiratory organs. The
volatile oil is a powerful irritant, rubefacient, and vesicant, used for
rheumatic pains and colic. In 1699 John Evelyn's Acetaria says of the
seedlings "of incomparable effect to quicken and revive the spirits,
strengthening the memory expelling heaviness...besides being an approved
antiscorbutic. As a counterirritant, the seeds ground and mixed with vinegar
are recommended for rheumatism, yet used internally for digestive disorders.
Mustard seed tea has been prescribed as a gargle for sore throat, and it is
said to relieve bronchitis and rheumatism (Grieve, 1931). The plant is thought
to have emollient and sedative, even narcotic properties (Watt and
White Mustard contains an enzyme myrosin and a glucoside sinalbin which yields
upon hydrolysis, acrinyl isothiocynate, a pungent tasting but almost odorless
oil. Sinalbin mustard oil is only slightly volatile with steam, and causes
blisters on the skin. Seeds contain 7.2% moisture, 27.6% protein, 29.7% crude
fat, 20.8% N-free extract, 10.3% fiber, and 4.5% ash (C.S.I.R., 19481976).
Asian analyses suggest that the seed contains per 100 g: 469 calories 5.0%
moisture, 26.4% protein, 36.3% fat, 28.2% total carbohydrate, 5.2% fiber, 4.1%
ash, 410 mg Ca, 613 mg P, 20.9 mg Fe, 630 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.40 mg
thiamine, 0.31 mg riboflavin, 7.3 mg niacin, and 0 ascorbic acid.
Seeds have a cathartic acid due to liberation of H2S on contact with water.
Large doses may produce sulfide poisoning, with cyanosis, etc. Troxler (1981)
reports fatalities in 19 of 48 heifers fed white mustard. A sudden drop in
temperature inhibited its growth in the: preflowering stage. The plant
contained 6.2% nitrate in the DM, 1020 times the toxic level.
Erect, sparsely-hairy branching winter annual herb, developed from a taproot;
stems up to 1.5 m tall, usually with stiff de-flexed hairs, but sometimes
glabrous; leaves petiolate, alternate, ovate or obovate, to 8 cm long and 4 cm
wide, pinnately dissected into 35 rounded segments, usually hispid but not
scabrid; flowers yellow, in elongated racemes, hairy, patent, the beak broad,
flattened, 1030 mm long, attenuate; seeds 48 per pod, globular, yellowish to
light brown, 2 mm in diameter, the innner seed coat containing mucilage,
cotyledons containing oil with pungent taste but no odor. 2n = 24. Fl.
spring and summer; fr. summer and fall.
Two subspecies are recognized; subsp. albawith lyrate-pinnatified or
lyrate-pinnate leaves and siliques 2040 mm long and 34 mm wide, the valves
usually hispid, with a beak 1030 mm long, and yellow or pale brown seeds; and
subsp. dissecta (Lag.) Bonnierwith leaves twice pinnatifid, not
lyrate, with the terminal lobe ovate and the lateral lobes oblong-linear and
siliques 2530 mm long and 3.56.5 mm wide, the valves slightly hairy or
glabrous, the beak 1020 mm long and the seeds grayish-brown. Assigned to the
Mediterranean Center of Diversity white mustard or cvs thereof is said to
tolerate frost, high pH, heavy soil, low pH, smog, and weeds. (2n = 24).
Native to the Mediterranean region and the Crimea, but introduced into
northwestern Europe, Russia, Japan, North and South America, Australia, New
Zealand, India, North Africa, and China. It has become naturalized in many
areas and is a weed of cultivated lands, especially flax-fields.
A quick-growing long-day annual which prefers temperate climates with some
humidity. Can withstand high temperatures, but very hot days during flowering
and ripening may reduce seed setting and lower quality of seed. Requires high
nutrient soils with high level of nitrogen, but may be grown on a wide range of
soils from light to heavy, growing best on relatively heavy sandy loamy soils.
Not suited to very wet soils. Ranging from Boreal Moist to Wet through
Tropical Dry Forest Life Zones, white mustard occurs where annual precipitation
varies from 3.5 to 17.9 dm (mean of 43 cases = 7.7), annual temperature from
5.6 to 24.9°C (mean of 43 cases = 10.5), and pH of 4.5 to 8.2 (mean of 36
cases = 6.6).
Land to be sown to mustard should be prepared in the fall. Seed may be sown in
early spring with a seeder at rate of 45 kg/ha and then the land harrowed. In
Great Britain seed is sown at rate of 12 kg/ha on heavy soils and up to 14
kg/ha on light soils. In the Pacific States sowing may be as early as January.
Crop may be cultivated, harvested, and handled with ordinary farm machinery.
For salad greens, plants are havested when a few cm tall, when only the first
pairs of leaves (seed-leaves) have expanded. Crop is usually grown in
greenhouses, thus crops can be produced year round if a temperature of
1015°C is maintained. Seed is sown on the surface of soil, on firm level
beds; watered with a fine spray, then covered with steam-sterilized net
sack-cloth, which is sprayed to keep it moist, and removed when seedlings are
2.53.5 cm tall, in about 4 days in spring and autumn and 67 days in winter.
The yellowish seed-leaves turn green in 23 days and then the crop is cut. It
is usually marketed in small boxes, sometimes packed together with cress. For
home use, small quantities of seed may be grown on wet flannel on a dish,
covered to exclude light and to keep the seedlings moist.
Seeds are ripe for harvest when they are hard and black. Fruits do not shatter
readily and can be direct combined. It is important to harvest the seed when
ripe, since the seed weight increases substantially during the last 23 days
before the crop is ready to harvest in August or earlier. For pure seed
production, varieties must be isolated at least 360 m apart. From seeding to
harvest usually requires about 4 months in the US. In temperate India it is
grown as a winter garden crop.
Under mechanization in the U.S., farmer yields of nearly 900 kg/ha have been
obtained. Yielded 37 MT fresh fodder, and 329 kg DCP when harvested in April,
grown as a catch crop after corn in irrigated trials in the Samarkand region of
Russia (Gorelov et al, 1980).
If the experimental seed yields of 8000 kg/ha (Duke, 1978) are correct, the
2530% oil content could add up to nearly 2.5 MT oil per hectare.
White mustard is 100% pollinated by wind and insects, mainly honey-bees. Among
diseases infesting white mustard are the white-rust Albugo candida, an
Alternaria leaf spot, the powdery mildew Erysiphe polygoni, the downy
mildew Peronospora parasitica, the clubroot Plasmodiophora
brassicae, and the stemrot Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Nematodes
include Ditylenchus dipsaci, Heterodera cruciferae, H. schachtii, H.
trifolii, Meloidogyne sp., Pratylenchus penetrans, and P.
pratensis (Golden, p.c. 1984).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- 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.
- Gorelov, E.P., Rasulov, I.R., and Odilov, S.K. 1980. Fresh fodders in spring
(Russian). Kormoproizvodstvo 5:34. (From abstract.)
- Grieve, M. 1931. A modern herbal. Reprint 1974. Hafner Press, New York.
- Troxler, J. 1981. Intoxication mortelle de 19 genisses par la moutarde jaune
(Sinapis alba L.) Sweizer Archiv Fur Tierheil Kunde 123(9):495497.
- 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 Friday, January 9, 1998 by aw