Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

mustard the name of several species of plant in the cabbage family. The seeds of three of them provide the condiment mustard. Several also have edible leaves: see mustard greens and cress, for mustard and cress. Some yield a culinary oil.

The three plants grown for their seed are Sinapis alba, usually known as white or yellow mustard, a small plant whose large seeds are tan or yellowish; Brassica nigra, usually called black mustard, up to 3.5 m/12' tall with small brownish-black seeds; and B. juncea, known as brown or Chinese mustard, with small, usually reddish-brown seeds. The first two are native to Europe, the third originally Asian though now widely grown. The first and third now provide virtually all commercial mustard; B. nigra was formerly used in many European mustards, but it is too tall and its seeds drop too easily for mechanical harvesting.