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Wild Radish

Raphanus raphanistrum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Annual or Biennial
Maximum Size:
2 metres tall
Fields, grassland, lawns, roadsides, wasteland.

White, 4 petals
The stalked flowers are usually white with lilac-coloured veins but can also be pale yellow or mauve. Sepals are erect. The flowers are never violet-coloured like the very similar looking Garden Radish. The flowers are between 15 and 30mm each.
Many-seeded pods. Up to 9cm long. Similar in appearance to Sea Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum maritimus) but the pods are less conspicuously beaded, although Wild Radish and Sea Radish often hybridise making identification tricky.
An annual flower with pinnately lobed leaves and a large round terminal lobe.
Other Names:
Jointed Charlock, Runch, White Charlock.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Raphanus raphanistrum, commonly known as wild radish, is a species of wild radish in the family Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can also be found throughout much of the world as an introduced species. Wild radish is a biennial plant that can grow up to 2 m tall. It has large, lobed leaves and yellow or white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. Wild radish can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, pastures, and along roadsides. Like the cultivated radish, the root of wild radish is edible, but it is generally considered too woody and tough to be palatable. The leaves and young seedpods are edible and can be used in salads or as a cooked green. Wild radish is considered as a weed by many farmers because it can outcompete crops for resources and can host pests and diseases.


Wild Radish, scientifically known as Raphanus raphanistrum, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is a common weed found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. Despite being considered a weed, Wild Radish is a fascinating plant with several interesting characteristics.


Wild Radish is an annual or biennial plant that grows up to 2 meters tall. It has a deep taproot and a rosette of leaves at the base of the plant. The leaves are pinnately lobed and can grow up to 8 inches long. The stem of the plant is usually hairy, and the flowers are white, pink, or purple, with four petals arranged in a cross shape.


Wild Radish is a highly adaptable plant that can grow in a variety of habitats. It is commonly found in fields, pastures, meadows, and disturbed areas such as roadsides and construction sites. It can also grow in rocky areas, and it is commonly found in coastal regions. Wild Radish prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.


Despite being considered a weed, Wild Radish has several uses. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. The seeds of the plant are also used as a spice and have a flavor similar to horseradish. Wild Radish is also used as a cover crop, as it can improve soil health and prevent erosion.

Ecological Role

Wild Radish plays an important ecological role as a source of food for many insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. It is also a host plant for several insect species, such as the Cabbage Moth and the Large White Butterfly. In addition, the plant is used as a food source for many bird species, such as the House Sparrow and the American Goldfinch.

Wild Radish can be a problematic weed in agricultural fields, as it competes with crops for nutrients and water. To control the plant, several methods can be used, including hand pulling, hoeing, and the use of herbicides. However, it is important to note that herbicides can have negative effects on the environment, and their use should be carefully considered.

Wild Radish may be considered a weed, but it is a fascinating plant with several interesting characteristics. Its adaptability, traditional uses, ecological role, and potential as a cover crop make it a plant worthy of further study.

Ecological Impact

Wild Radish can have both positive and negative ecological impacts depending on the context. As a weed, it can compete with native plant species for resources and space, potentially leading to a decrease in biodiversity. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, it is an important source of food for many insect and bird species, and can also contribute to soil health and prevent erosion.

In some regions, Wild Radish has become naturalized and can be found growing alongside native plant species. While it may not pose an immediate threat to biodiversity in these cases, its continued spread can potentially lead to displacement of native plants and alterations in ecosystem function.

Cultural Significance

In some cultures, Wild Radish has cultural significance and has been used in traditional festivals and rituals. For example, in some parts of China, Wild Radish is eaten during the Qingming Festival, a traditional holiday to honor ancestors. In other parts of the world, the plant has been used as a dye source for textiles and other materials.

Furthermore, Wild Radish has played a role in human history, as it is believed to be one of the ancestors of the modern radish (Raphanus sativus). Through cultivation and selective breeding, humans have developed a variety of radish cultivars with different shapes, sizes, and flavors.

Overall, Wild Radish is a plant that has multiple facets and can be studied from various angles. While it may be considered a weed in some contexts, it has ecological, cultural, and historical significance that should not be overlooked.

Medicinal Uses

Wild Radish has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat various ailments. The plant has been used to treat respiratory problems such as asthma, cough, and bronchitis, as well as digestive disorders such as bloating, indigestion, and constipation. The seeds of Wild Radish have also been used as a diuretic to help the body eliminate excess fluids.

Wild Radish is believed to contain several bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glucosinolates, that may contribute to its medicinal properties. However, more research is needed to fully understand the plant's therapeutic potential.

Culinary Uses

As mentioned earlier, the seeds of Wild Radish have a flavor similar to horseradish and can be used as a spice in cooking. They can be ground into a powder and used to season meats, soups, and sauces, or mixed with vinegar and other ingredients to make a condiment similar to mustard.

In some cultures, the leaves and flowers of Wild Radish are also eaten as a vegetable. In Japan, for example, the plant is known as "nezumi-daikon" and is eaten raw or cooked. The leaves can be added to salads or stir-fried with other vegetables, while the flowers can be used to garnish dishes.


Wild Radish may be a common weed, but it is a plant with multiple uses and significance. It has been used in traditional medicine, culinary arts, and cultural rituals, and has ecological and historical significance. As we continue to study and learn about this plant, we may uncover even more uses and benefits that it has to offer.


Wild Radish filmed at Marshlands, Southport, Lancashire on the 4th June 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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