Herb: Rocket

Latin name: Eruca vesicaria sativa

Synonyms: Brassica eruca, Eruca sativa, Eruca vesicaria

Family: Cruciferae

Medicinal use of Rocket:

Rocket was at one time used medicinally, though it is now used only as a salad herb. The leaves are antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant and stomachic. The seed is rubefacient and stimulant. The powdered seed possesses antibacterial activity, but no alkaloids have been isolated. The oil from the seed is said to have aphrodisiac properties.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Waste ground, fields, olive groves, stony hills, tracksides etc.

Edible parts of Rocket:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. A distinct strongly spicy flavour, the taste is best from fast, well-grown plants. A few leaves added to a salad are acceptable though the flavour is too strong for many tastes. Some people really like these leaves though most are not very keen. Older leaves that have become too hot to eat on their own can be pureed and added to soups etc. In the milder areas of Britain it is possible to produce edible leaves all year round from successional sowings, especially if the winter crop is given some protection. Flowers - raw. The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is edible if stored 6 months and is a substitute for rapeseed oil. It contains 32% fat, 27% protein. It is known as "jamba oil". A mustard is obtained from the seed, the strong flavour comes from an essential oil that is contained within the oil of the seed. The 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.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is a substitute for rapeseed oil. It can also be used for lighting, burning with very little soot.

Propagation of Rocket:

Seed - sow outdoors in spring in situ. Germination is usually very quick and free. In order to obtain a continuous supply of edible leaves, successional sowings can be made every few weeks until mid August. A late summer/early autumn sowing can provide leaves in winter, though the plants might require some protection in very cold winters.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste ground, fields, olive groves, stony hills, tracksides etc.

Known hazards of Eruca vesicaria sativa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.