Radish may also refer to any member of the genus Raphanus (the "radishes").
For other uses, see radish (disambiguation).

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Raphanus
Species: R. sativus
Binomial name
Raphanus sativus

The radish (Raphanus sativus) is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe in pre-Roman times. Radishes are grown and consumed throughout the world, being mostly eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable. They have numerous varieties, varying in size, flavor, color, and length of time they take to mature. Radishes owe their sharp flavor to the various chemical compounds produced by the plants, including glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isothiocyanate. They are sometimes grown as companion plants and suffer from few pests and diseases. They germinate quickly and grow rapidly, smaller varieties being ready for consumption within a month, while larger daikon varieties take several months. Another use of radish is as cover or catch crop in winter[1] or as a forage crop.[2] Some radishes are grown for their seeds; daikon, for instance, may be grown for oil production. Others are used for sprouting and both roots and leaves are sometimes served cooked or cold.


Varieties of radish are now broadly distributed around the world, but almost no archeological records are available to help determine their early history and domestication.[3] However, scientists tentatively locate the origin of Raphanus sativus in southeast Asia, as this is the only region where truly wild forms have been discovered. India, central China, and central Asia appear to have been secondary centers where differing forms were developed. Radishes enter the historical record in third century BC.[4] Greek and Roman agriculturalists of the first century AD gave details of small, large, round, long, mild, and sharp varieties. The radish seems to have been one of the first European crops introduced to the Americas. A German botanist reported radishes of 100 lb (45 kg) and roughly 3 ft in length in 1544, although the only variety of that size today is the Japanese Sakurajima radish.[5] The large, mild, and white East Asian form was developed in China, but is mostly associated in the West with the Japanese daikon, owing to Japanese agricultural development and larger exports.


Section through radishes

Radishes are annual or biennial brassicaceous crops grown for their swollen tap roots which can be globular, tapering, or cylindrical. The root skin colour ranges from white through pink, red, purple, yellow, and green to black, but the flesh is usually white. Smaller types have a few leaves about 13 cm (5 in) long with round roots up to 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter or more slender, long roots up to 7 cm (3 in) long. Both of these are normally eaten raw in salads.[6] A longer root form, including oriental radishes, daikon or mooli, and winter radishes, grows up to 60 cm (24 in) long with foliage about 60 cm (24 in) high with a spread of 45 cm (18 in).[6] The flesh of radishes harvested timely is crisp and sweet, but becomes bitter and tough if the vegetable is left in the ground too long.[7] Leaves are arranged in a rosette. They have a lyrate shape, meaning they are divided pinnately with an enlarged terminal lobe and smaller lateral lobes. The white flowers are borne on a racemose inflorescence.[8] The fruits are small pods which can be eaten when young.[6]

The radish is a diploid species, and has 18 chromosomes (2n=18).[9]


Newly germinated radishes at 10 days old

Radishes are a fast-growing, annual, cool-season crop. The seed germinates in three to four days in moist conditions with soil temperatures between 65 and 85 °F (18 and 29 °C). Best quality roots are obtained under moderate day lengths with air temperatures in the range 50 to 65 °F (10 to 18 °C). Under average conditions, the crop matures in 3–4 weeks, but in colder weather, 6–7 weeks may be required.[10]

Radishes grow best in full sun in light, sandy loams, with a soil pH 6.5 to 7.0, but for late-season crops, a clayey-loam is ideal. Soils that bake dry and form a crust in dry weather are unsuitable and can impair germination.[11][12][13] Harvesting periods can be extended by making repeat plantings, spaced a week or two apart. In warmer climates, radishes are normally planted in the autumn.[11] The depth at which seeds are planted affects the size of the root, from 1 cm (0.4 in) deep recommended for small radishes to 4 cm (1.6 in) for large radishes.[13] During the growing period, the crop needs to be thinned and weeds controlled, and irrigation may be required.[11]

Growing radish plants

Radishes are a common garden crop in the United States, and the fast harvest cycle makes them a popular choice for children's gardens.[12] After harvesting, radishes can be stored without loss of quality for two or three days at room temperature, and about two months at 0 °C (32 °F) with a relative humidity of 90–95%.[8]

Companion plant

Radishes can be useful as companion plants for many other crops, probably because their pungent odour deters such insect pests as aphids, cucumber beetles, tomato hornworms, squash bugs, and ants.[14] They can function as a trap crop, luring insect pests away from the main crop.[15] Cucumbers and radishes seem to thrive when grown in close association with each other, and radishes also grow well with chervil, lettuce, peas, and nasturtiums. However, they react adversely to growing in close association with hyssop.[14]


As a fast-growing plant, diseases are not generally a problem with radishes, but some insect pests can be a nuisance. The larvae of flea beetles (Delia radicum) live in the soil, but the adult beetles cause damage to the crop, biting small "shot holes" in the leaves, especially of seedlings. The swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii) attacks the foliage and growing tip of the plant and causes distortion, multiple (or no) growing tips, and swollen or crinkled leaves and stems. The larvae of the cabbage root fly sometimes attack the roots. The foliage droops and becomes discoloured, and small, white maggots tunnel through the root, making it unattractive or inedible.[10]


Broadly speaking, radishes can be categorized into four main types according to the seasons when they are grown and a variety of shapes lengths, colors, and sizes, such as red, pink, white, gray-black, or yellow radishes, with round or elongated roots that can grow longer than a parsnip.

Spring or summer radishes

European radishes (Raphanus sativus)
Daikona large East Asian white radishfor sale in India

Sometimes referred to as European radishes or spring radishes if they are planted in cooler weather, summer radishes are generally small and have a relatively short three- to four-week cultivation time.[6]

Winter varieties


'Black Spanish' or 'Black Spanish Round' occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. niger (M.) S.K. or L. ssp. niger (M.). D.C. var. albus D.C) or known by the French name Gros Noir d'Hiver. It dates in Europe to 1548,[16] and was a common garden variety in England and France during the early 19th century.[17] It has a rough, black skin with hot-flavored, white flesh, is round or irregularly pear shaped,[18] and grows to around 10 cm (4 in) in diameter.

Daikon refers to a wide variety of winter oilseed radishes from Asia. While the Japanese name daikon has been adopted in English, it is also sometimes called the Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Oriental radish or mooli (in India and South Asia).[19] Daikon commonly have elongated white roots, although many varieties of daikon exist. One well-known variety is 'April Cross', with smooth white roots.[12][13] The New York Times describes 'Masato Red' and 'Masato Green' varieties as extremely long, well-suited for fall planting and winter storage.[12] The Sakurajima radish is a hot-flavored variety which is typically grown to around 10 kg (22 lb), but which can grow to 30 kg (66 lb) when left in the ground.[12][20]

Seed pod varieties

Radish fruits, also called pods
Radish seeds

The seeds of radishes grow in siliques (widely referred to as "pods"), following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, sharp addition to salads.[13] Some varieties are grown specifically for their seeds or seed pods, rather than their roots. The rat-tailed radish, an old European variety thought to have come from East Asia centuries ago, has long, thin, curly pods which can exceed 20 cm (8 in) in length. In the 17th century, the pods were often pickled and served with meat.[13] The 'München Bier' variety supplies seed pods that are sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to beer in Germany.[21]

Nutritional value

Radishes, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 66 kJ (16 kcal)
3.4 g
Sugars 1.86 g
Dietary fiber 1.6 g
0.1 g
0.68 g
Thiamine (B1)

0.012 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.039 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.254 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.165 mg

Vitamin B6

0.071 mg

Folate (B9)

25 μg

Vitamin C

14.8 mg


25 mg


0.34 mg


10 mg


0.069 mg


20 mg


233 mg


0.28 mg

Other constituents
Fluoride 6 µg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

In a 100 gram serving, raw radishes provide 16 calories and have a moderate amount of vitamin C (18% of Daily Value), with other essential nutrients in low content (table).[22]



Filipino dish, Ginisang Labanos with ground beef

The most commonly eaten portion is the napiform taproot, although the entire plant is edible and the tops can be used as a leaf vegetable. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw in a similar way to a mung bean.[23]

The bulb of the radish is usually eaten raw, although tougher specimens can be steamed. The raw flesh has a crisp texture and a pungent, peppery flavor, caused by glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosinase, which combine when chewed to form allyl isothiocyanates, also present in mustard, horseradish, and wasabi.[24]

Radishes are mostly used in salads, but also appear in many European dishes.[25] Radish leaves are sometimes used in recipes, like potato soup or as a sauteed side dish. They are also found blended with fruit juices in some recipes.[26]

Other uses

The seeds of radishes can be pressed to extract radish seed oil. Wild radish seeds contain up to 48% oil, and while not suitable for human consumption, this oil is a potential source of biofuel.[27] The daikon grows well in cool climates and, apart from its industrial use, can be used as a cover crop, grown to increase soil fertility, to scavenge nutrients, suppress weeds, help alleviate soil compaction, and prevent winter erosion of the soil.[28][29]


The daikon varieties of radish are important parts of East, Southeast, and South Asian cuisine. In Japan and Korea, radish dolls are sometimes made as children's toys. Daikon is also one of the plants that make up the Japanese Festival of Seven Herbs (Nanakusa no sekku) on the seventh day after the new year.[30]

Citizens of Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrate the Night of the Radishes (Noche de los rábanos) on December 23 as a part of Christmas celebrations. This folk art competition uses a large type of radish up to 50 cm (20 in) long and weighing up to 3 kg (6.6 lb). Great skill and ingenuity are used to carve these into religious and popular figures, buildings, and other objects, and they are displayed in the town square.[31][32]

Production trends

About seven million tons of radishes are produced yearly, representing roughly 2% of global vegetable production.[33]

See also



  1. Price, Andrew J.; Jason, K. Norsworthy (2013). "Cover Crops for Weed Management in Southern Reduced-Tillage Vegetable Cropping Systems". Weed Technology. 27 (1): 212–217. doi:10.1614/WT-D-12-00056.1.
  2. Fitzgerald, J. J.; Black, W. J. M. (1984). "Finishing Store Lambs on Green Forage Crops: 1. A Comparison of Rape, Kale and Fodder Radish as Sources of Feed for Finishing Store Lambs in Autumn". Irish Journal of Agricultural Research. 23 (2/3): 127–136. JSTOR 25556085.
  3. Zohary, Daniel; Hopf, Maria (2000). Domestication of plants in the Old World (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 139.
  4. Lewis-Jones, L.J.; Thorpe, J.P.; Wallis, G.P. (1982). "Genetic divergence in four species of the genus Raphanus: Implications for the ancestry of the domestic radish R. sativus". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 18 (1): 35–48. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1982.tb02032.x.
  5. "Raphanus sativus". Plant Finder. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden. 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Brickell, Christopher (ed) (1992). The Royal Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening (Print). London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 356–357. ISBN 978-0-86318-979-1.
  7. Vegetable Gardening: Growing and Harvesting Vegetables. Murdoch Books. 2004. p. 242. ISBN 978-1-74045-519-0.
  8. 1 2 Gopalakrishnan, T.P. (2007). Vegetable Crops. New India Publishing. pp. 244–247. ISBN 978-81-89422-41-7.
  9. Dixon 2007, p. 35.
  10. 1 2 Seaman, Abby (2013-11-13). "Turnips and Radishes". Integrated crop and pest management guidelines for commercial vegetable production. Cornell Cooperative Extension. Archived from the original on July 23, 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  11. 1 2 3 Beattie, James H. (James Herbert), b. 1882; Beattie, W. R. (William Renwick), b. 1870; United States Department of Agriculture. Production of radishes (Leaflet). Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture; UNT Digital Library. Retrieved October 2, 2014. hosted by the University of North Texas Government Documents Department Documents A to Z Digitization Project website. Retrieved on 2014-07-29.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Faust, Joan Lee (March 3, 1996). "Hail the Speedy Radish, in All Its Forms". The New York Times. via nytimes.com archives. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Peterson, Cass. (1999-05-02.) "Radishes: Easy to Sprout, Hard to Grow Right." The New York Times, via nytimes.com archives. Retrieved on 2014-07-29.
  14. 1 2 Ready, Barbara (1982-02-01). "Garden Companions and Enemies". EarthWood. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  15. "Trap Crop". Archived from the original on March 22, 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  16. Aiton, William Townsend (1812). Hortus Kewensis; Or, A Catalogue of the Plants Cultivated in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. IV (2nd ed.). London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. p. 129. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  17. Lindley, George (1831). A Guide to the Orchard and Kitchen Garden: Or, an Account of the Most Valuable Fruit and Vegetables Cultivated in Great Britain. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  18. McIntosh, Charles (1828). The Practical Gardener, and Modern Horticulturist. London: Thomas Kelly. p. 288. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  19. Daikon. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Company, via dictionary.com. 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-28. **McAffee warns that this site attempted to exploit a browser vulnerability.
  20. (2002-02-10.) "29 kg radish wins contest." Kyodo World News Service, via highbeam.com (fee for full access.) Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
  21. Williams, Sally (2004) "With Some Radishes, It's About The Pods", Kitchen Gardners International. Retrieved on 2008-06-21. Archived February 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. "Radishes, raw per 100 g". Conde Nast. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  23. "Sprouts: daikon sprouts, radish sprouts". The Cook's Thesaurus. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  24. Cruciferous Vegetables, Isothiocyanates and Indoles (Print). IARC Handbook of Cancer Prevention. 9. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer/IARC Press. 2004. p. 13. ISBN 978-92-832-3009-0.
  25. Radish Chefs (2005–2014). "Radish Recipes". Radish Recipe Book. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  26. Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh (2012-06-18). "Crunch time: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's radish recipes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  27. "Georgia looking at radish oil for biofuel market". Southeast Farm Press. 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  28. Cavigelli, Michel A.; Martin, Todd E.; Mutch, Dale R. "Oilseed radish". Michigan State University. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  29. Gruver, Joel; Weil, Ray R.; White, Charles; Lawley, Yvonne (2014-03-11). "Radishes: A New Cover Crop for Organic Farming Systems". Michigan State University. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
  30. Ginny (2009-01-07). "Japanese Culture: Jinjitsu (人日)". Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  31. "Night of the Radishes, Christmas in Oaxaca". Oaxaca Travel Guide. don Quijote. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
  32. "La noche de los rábanos". StudySpanish.
  33. Dixon 2007, p. 33.

Cited literature

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