Brassica juncea (Brown Mustard)

Botanical Name: Brassica juncea
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus:     Brassica
Species: B. juncea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Brassicales

Common Names: Brown Mustard,  Mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, or Leaf mustard, Green mustard cabbage

Habitat : Primary center of origin thought to be central Asia (northwest India), with secondary centers in central and western China, eastern India, Burma, and through Iran to Near East. Has been cultivated for centuries in many parts of Eurasia. The principle growing countries are Bangladesh, Central Africa, China, India, Japan, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as southern Russia north of the Caspian Sea. Considered a principle weed in Canada, a common weed in Argentina and Australia, and a weed in Fiji, Mexico, and the United States, Indian Mustard is widely distributed as a cultivar and escape in subtropical and temperate climates.

Description:
Brassica juncea is a Perennial herb, usually grown as an annual or biennial, up to 1 m or more tall; branches long, erect or patent; lower leaves petioled, green, sometimes with a whitish bloom, ovate to obovate, variously lobed with toothed, scalloped or frilled edges, lyrate-pinnatisect, with 1–2 lobes or leaflets on each side and a larger sparsely setose, terminal lobe; upper leaves subentire, short petioled, 30–60 mm long, 2–3.5 mm wide, constricted at intervals, sessile, attenuate into a tapering, seedless, short beak 5–10 mm long. Rooting depth 90–120 cm. Seeds about 5,660–6,000 per 0.01 kg (1/3 oz).
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Edible Uses:
The leaves, the seeds (Raai in Gujarati), and the stem of this mustard variety are edible. The plant appears in some form in African, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and soul food cuisine. Cultivars of B. juncea are grown as greens, and for the production of oilseed. In Russia, this is the main variety grown for production of mustard oil, which after refining is considered[according to whom?] one of the best vegetable oils. It is widely used in canning, baking and margarine production in Russia, and the majority of table mustard there is also made from this species of mustard plant.

The leaves are used in African cooking, and leaves, seeds, and stems are used in Indian cuisine, particularly in mountain regions of Nepal, as well as in the Punjab cuisine of India and Pakistan, where a famous dish called sarson da saag (mustard greens) is prepared. B. juncea subsp. tatsai, which has a particularly thick stem, is used to make the Indian pickle called achar, and the Chinese pickle zha cai. The mustard made from the seeds of the B. juncea is called brown mustard. The leaves & seeds (Raai in Gujarati)are used in many Indian dishes.

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The Gorkhas of Darjeeling and Sikkim prepare pork with mustard greens (also called rayo in Nepali). It is usually eaten with relish with steamed rice, but could also be eaten with chapati (griddle breads).

Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely related Brassica oleracea greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens, et cetera), and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of “mixed greens”, which may include wild greens such as dandelion. As with other greens in soul food cooking, mustard greens are generally flavored by being cooked for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin K.

Chinese and Japanese cuisines also make use of mustard greens. In Japanese cuisine it is known as Takana and is often pickled and used as filling in onigiri or as a condiment. A large variety of B. juncea cultivars are used, including zha cai, mizuna, takana (var. integlofolia), juk gai choy, and xuelihong. Asian mustard greens are most often stir-fried or pickled. A Southeast Asian dish called asam gai choy or kiam chai boey is often made with leftovers from a large meal. It involves stewing mustard greens with tamarind, dried chillies and leftover meat on the bone.

Medicinal Uses:
Reported to be anodyne, apertif, diuretic, emetic, rubefacient, and stimulant, Indian Mustard is a folk remedy for arthritis, footache, lumbago, and rheumatism. Seed used for tumors in China. Root used as a galactagogue in Africa. Sun-dried leaf and flower are smoked in Tanganyika to “get in touch with the spirits.” Ingestion may impart a body odor repellent to mosquitoes (Burkill, 1966). Believed to be aperient and tonic, the volatile oil is used as a counterirritant and stimulant. In Java the plant is used as an antisyphilitic emmenagogue. Leaves applied to the forehead are said to relieve headache (Burkill, 1966). In Korea, the seeds are used for abscesses, colds, lumbago, rheumatism, and stomach disorders. Chinese eat the leaves in soups for bladder, inflammation or hemorrhage. Mustard oil is used for skin eruptions and ulcers.

Other Uses:
Phytoremediation:
This plant is used in phytoremediation to remove heavy metals, such as lead, from the soil in hazardous waste sites because it has a higher tolerance for these substances and stores the heavy metals in its cells. The plant is then harvested and disposed of properly. This method is easier and less expensive than traditional methods for the removal of heavy metals. It also prevents erosion of soil from these sites preventing further contamination

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_juncea
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Brassica_juncea.html

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