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Toxic parts

The oil contained in the seed of some varieties of this species can be rich in erucic acid which is toxic. However, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid.

Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked[1][2][3]. Added to salads or used as a potherb[4][5]. The leaves are also fermented for later use[5].

Immature flowering stems - cooked in much the same way as broccoli[4]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed, it is used mainly for cooking purposes, but can also be used raw in salad dressings[1][6][2][7][4]. Some caution is advised, however, see the notes above on toxicity. The sprouted seed is often used as the mustard part of mustard and cress. Eaten in salads[1][2][3][4].

The seed is used as a mustard flavouring[4].

Unknown part


Material uses

The seed contains up to 45% of an edible semi-drying oil, it is used as a luminant, lubricant, in soap making etc[6][8][9][10]. Rapeseed oil has potential market in detergent lubrication oils, emulsifying agents, polyamide fibres, and resins, and as a vegetable wax substitute. According to the Chemical Marketing Reporter (April 26, 1982) \"the most common use for the oil is still in the production or erucic acid, a fatty acid used in turn in the manufacture of other chemicals[11].

The seed husks are used in plastering house walls[5].

A good green manure, the deep taproot improves drainage and loosens heavy soils[12][13][14].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The root is emollient and diuretic[15]. The juice of the roots is used in the treatment of chronic coughs and bronchial catarrh[15][11].

The seed, powdered, with salt is said to be a folk remedy for cancer[11].

Rape oil is used in massage and oil baths, it is believed to strengthen the skin and keep it cool and healthy. With camphor it is applied as a remedy for rheumatism and stiff joints[11]. It is dropped into the ear to relieve earaches[5].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Green manure


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow in situ in early spring to mid-August for a green manure crop.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Brassica napus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[16]. Succeeds in any reasonable soil[17]. Prefers a heavy soil and cool moist conditions[18][13]. Sunny days and cool nights are favourable for plant growth whilst dry weather at harvest time is essential[11]. Colza is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 30 to 280cm, an annual average temperature range of 5 to 27°C and a pH in the range of 4.2 to 8.2[11].

Very young plants are susceptible to cold damage, -4°C either killing or injuring seedlings, whereas -2°C has no affect when the plants are more than one month old[11]. Brassica napus is an aggregate species, probably derived through cultivation. It is thought that crosses of Brassica oleracea subsp. oleracea with B. rapa gave rise to the subsp. B. napus pabularia, from which subsp. napus and subsp. rapifera and other cvs were derived[11]. The aggregate species includes forms with swollen edible roots (B. napus napobrassica, the garden swede), forms grown for their oil-rich seeds (B. napus napus, the oilseed rape), forms grown for their edible leaves (B. napus pabularia, the rape kales) whilst the form grown as a green manure is B. napus arvensis. All these forms are treated separately here. The oil obtained from the seed is high in erucic acid and glucosinolates, both of which have anti-nutritional properties. Cultivars have been developed that have a low content of these items and are therefore suitable for food. Colza is 70% self-pollinating and 30% cross-pollinated. Even if wind and insects are absent, seed are still produced. Yield increases with honeybees[11]. The growth of this plant is inhibited by field mustard and hedge mustard growing nearby[12][13].

This species is closely related to B. rapa[16].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Brassica napus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Brassica napus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Brassica napus
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-00-00)
    3. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
    4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-527-6 (2002-00-00)
    6. ? Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    10. ? 10.010.1 Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-136450-x (1975-00-00)
    11. ? 11.0011.0111.0211.0311.0411.0511.0611.0711.0811.0911.10 Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
    12. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
    13. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Woodward. L. Burge. P. Green Manures. Elm Farm Research Centre. (1982-00-00)
    15. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    16. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    17. ? Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
    18. ? Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-050-0 (1977-00-00)

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