What Is Horseradish?

Horseradish is a very hardy plant and is popularly made into a condiment. In Japan, it is known as wasabi.

Scientific name: Armoracia Rusticana, Cochlearia Armoracia, Radicula Armoracia

Other names: Mountain Radish, Great Raifort, Red Cole

Horseradish belongs to the Cruciferae family or the mustard family. The horse prefix is to indicate that this is a strong and large radish. The native habitat for horseradish is southeast Europe and now grows in the wild in North America, commonly found near the sea. The cultivated perennial plant is usually propagated through root cuttings. Horseradish grows to about 24 inches in height and like mint, once horseradish is grown in the garden, it will more or less be everywhere. It is a very hardy plant.

Horseradish is grown for its roots and if planted next to potatoes, will make the potatoes more resistant to diseases. The basal leaves are green and long and have notched edges. The flowers grow from a separate shoot but the plant does not flower every year. The flowers are white in color and grow in small loose clusters. The root contains potassium myronate and mustard oil. It is also high in sulfur, potash and silicic acid.

Only the root is used for consumption, generally as a condiment. The grated root is also served with beef, sausage, ham, liver paste and fish. There is a variety in Japan called wasabi or Japanese horseradish.

Medicinal uses: Many years ago, horseradish was used as treatment for scurvy but is now favored as a counter irritant for the skin. In baths, salves and poultices, horseradish is used to soothe the pains of neuralgia, sciatica, cramps, pleurisy, rheumatism and gout. It is also used to remove skin blemishes like freckles. The scientific name for the root is Radix Armoraciae.

To make a lotion for the skin, place a few slices of fresh horseradish in a jar with some milk. Let steep before use. Do not over use as this will cause blisters.

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