Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)



Black mustard (Brassica nigra) is an annual weedy plant cultivated for its seeds, which are commonly used as a spice. It is native to the southern Mediterranean region of Europe. Black mustard belongs to the same genus as cabbage and is not closely related to white mustard (Sinapis alba), even though they have a similar common name.

Brassica nigra can grow to 0.5 - 3 m tall, with leaves that are covered in tiny hairs. It bears four-petaled, small yellow flowers of about 1 cm across. The small seeds, about 1 mm, are hard and dark brown to black in color. They are flavorful but lack aroma. The spice is generally made from ground seed, with the seed coats removed. Whole seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine. The seeds are usually thrown into hot oil or ghee after which they pop, releasing a nutty flavor. Black mustard seeds contain a significant amount of fatty oil, which is often used as cooking oil in India.

In Ethiopia, black mustard is cultivated as a vegetable in Gondar, Harar, and Shewa. The shoots and leaves are consumed cooked and the seeds used as a spice.

Brassica nigraBrassica nigra
Author: Eugene van der Pijll (public domain)

Brassica nigra seedsBrassica nigra seeds
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

Brassica nigra seedsBrassica nigra seeds
Author: Sanjay Acharya (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

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