Herb: Head Mustard

Latin name: Brassica juncea rugosa

Family: Cruciferae

Medicinal use of Head Mustard:

Reported to be anodyne, aperitif, diuretic, emetic, rubefacient, and stimulant, the plant is a folk remedy for arthritis, foot ache, lumbago, and rheumatism. The seed is used in the treatment of tumours in China. In Korea, the seeds are used in the treatment of abscesses, colds, lumbago, rheumatism, and stomach disorders. The root is used as a galactagogue in Africa. Ingestion may impart a body odour repellent to mosquitoes. Mustard oil is used in the treatment of skin eruptions and ulcers. 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. The Chinese eat the leaves in soups for bladder, inflammation or haemorrhage.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Head Mustard:

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. A peppery flavour that can range from mild to hot, this is one of the most highly prized cooked vegetables in the Orient. The leaves are more peppery than the stems. The leaves can also be finely shredded and added to mixed salads. The leaves can be harvested at any stage from seedling to maturity, becoming hotter with age.The protein extracted from the leaves mixes well with banana pulp and is well adapted as a pie filling. Flowers and young flowering stems - raw or cooked. Sweet and succulent. An edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. The seed contains 25 - 30% oil. The seed is used as a mustard flavouring. It is the source of "brown mustard", a prepared mustard that is milder than that produced from other species. Pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed - an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 - 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild bitter mustard. Black mustard comes from B. nigra and white mustard from Sinapis alba. The seed is also used whole in curries and pickles. They are often heated in oil to destroy their pungency and give them a nutty flavour. Sprouted seeds can be added to salads.

Other uses of the herb:

There is some evidence that if this plant is grown as a green manure it is effective in reducing soil-borne root rots in pea crops. This is attributed to chemicals that are given off as the plants decay.

Propagation of Head Mustard:

Seed - sow in situ from August to October. Seed can also be sown in the spring but plants are very likely to run to seed. There are about 5,660 - 6,000 per 0.01 kg (1/3 oz).

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Brassica juncea rugosa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.