Friday, September 11, 2009

Brassicaceae X - please help me ID it!

Update 19/07/10: The mystery is solved!

Just the other day I was wondering if I'd ever find out what this plant was. Then yesterday I got an email from my son's good friend's father who is a botanist. Why had I never thought to ask him before? Especially as it turns out he is actually one of New Zealand's Brassicaceae experts!

So, thank you Phil Garnock-Jones for this information:

Your mystery Brassica is Brassica fruticulosa (Mediterranean mustard); within that species it belongs to subsp. mauritanica, so it comes from North Africa. It's common around Wellington as far as Palmerston North. The wrinkly seed pods and the stalked upper leaves help to identify it.

I will write a new entry for it soon. (And more info about it is here. Thanks Phil for the link.)

Also - thanks - and a HUGE apology to Mike who wrote a comment here a few months ago (see below) that I never saw until today! He had solved the mystery already -  'twiggy turnip' is a common name for Brassica fruticulosa.

Here's a plant that looks a lot like wild turnip - and for the longest time I thought it WAS wild turnip ... until a visit to a helpful botanist and forager put me right. (Thanks Julia!)

You can read about the real wild turnip below. But what's this one? It's clearly a close relative in the Brassicaceae family. (Also commonly called the mustard family or the cabbage family.)

It's in flower all round Wellington at the moment. The flowers are slightly paler than wild turnip flowers, but are otherwise very similar. Like wild turnip, the flowers open above the bud, rather than below it. (Some Brassicaceae do the opposite.)

The leaves have quite a different shape to wild turnip leaves, with more rounded, curvy edges, and a smoother feel. They also don't grow so large as wild turnip, and when they go to seed, the seedpods are noticeably smaller.

What is this mystery Brassicaceae? If anyone can help, I'll be grateful.


Anonymous said...


I have been interested in this area for ages, but have never gone out and done any foraging because of the fear that I was going to poison myself. I am in Wellington too and was wondering if you might be keen to have someone tag along on one of your harvesting trips?


Johanna Knox said...

Hi Fran

I'd be up for something like that, but very busy at the moment with moving house and some work deadlines. Email me if you like - johanna dot knox at gmail dot com - and we could figure something out maybe for later next month.

Anonymous said...

Hi Johanna,

This may be "twiggy turnip" - see link below. Not sure of edible status - have you tried it yet?


Johanna Knox said...

Hi Mike - thank you very much for your comment - I'm so sorry I didn't see it till now! I'm not sure why, but I didn't get a notification from blogger that there was a new comment! It looks like you are right!!!

It's definitely edible, too - newer growth best! Seeds also good, although more labour intensive to collect than some of the others because of smaller size. :)

Mike said...

No worries Johanna -

Tried it in the meantime - was growing wild out the back of the garden. And yeah - quite nice.

BTW - I have also been cultivating the "normal" wild turnip from seeds gleaned in the wild. Very easy to grow, best harvested early, when the leaves are largest.


Anonymous said...

That is really uncool not to mention very unprofessional from a publicly owned broadcaster. What lazy production. I think you should formally complain and ask for an apology and a guarantee it will not happen again.

reade smith said...

looks like canola

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