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Edible uses


Young leaves - raw or cooked[1][2][3][4][5]. A distinct strongly spicy flavour[6], the taste is best from fast, well-grown plants[7]. A few leaves added to a salad are acceptable though the flavour is too strong for many tastes[K]. Some people really like these leaves though most are not very keen[K]. Older leaves that have become too hot to eat on their own can be pureed and added to soups etc[6]. 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[K].

Flowers - raw[52}. A similar taste to the leaves, they make a nice garnish on the salad bowl[6]. The seed yields a semi-drying oil[8][1][5] which is edible if stored 6 months[9][10] and is a substitute for rapeseed oil[4]. It contains 32% fat, 27% protein[10]. It is known as 'jamba oil'[6].

A mustard is obtained from the seed[11][5][6], the strong flavour comes from an essential oil that is contained within the oil of the seed[10]. 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[12].

Unknown part



Material uses

The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is a substitute for rapeseed oil[11]. It can also be used for lighting, burning with very little soot[10].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Rocket was at one time used medicinally, though it is now used only as a salad herb[12]. The leaves are antiscorbutic, diuretic, stimulant and stomachic[13][11].

The seed is rubefacient and stimulant[13][11]. The powdered seed possesses antibacterial activity, but no alkaloids have been isolated[14].

The oil from the seed is said to have aphrodisiac properties[15].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[3]. A late summer/early autumn sowing can provide leaves in winter, though the plants might require some protection in very cold winters[7].

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


A very easily grown and fast-maturing plant, it succeeds in most soils and conditions, though it prefers some shade in summer[16]. Once established, plants are quite drought resistant[17].

Rocket is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves and flowers, it can be ready for harvest within 40 days of sowing the seed[8][11][18][15], there are some named varieties. 'Rocket Improved' is less prone to bolting, though it still grows best in cooler weather[6]. Plants usually self-sow freely if the ground is disturbed in some way, such as by hoeing[K].

This species is normally untroubled by pests or diseases[17].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Eruca vesicaria sativa. 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 Eruca vesicaria sativa.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Eruca vesicaria sativa
Imported References
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 PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
  • Strong wind
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


  1. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  3. ? Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table. Faber (1960-00-00)
  4. ? Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-00-00)
  5. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  7. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  8. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  10. ? Chakravarty. H. L. The Plant Wealth of Iraq. ()
  11. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  12. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  13. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.1 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)
  15. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables Macmillan Reference Books, London. ISBN 0 333 62640 0 (1995-00-00)
  16. ? Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round. Hamlyn (1980-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
  18. ? Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
  19. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17