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the web of life in southern Africa

Raphanus sativus (Radish)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Brassicales > Family: Brassicaceae


Early cultivars of Radish were elongate and black rather than round and red. Radish is thought to have been domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean, prior to 2780 BC. Radish is normally eaten raw in salads, but in Asia it is also cooked and a special variety has been developed with long seed pods that are eaten.

A vegetable, used raw in salads. In China and Japan it is also eaten cooked. Raphanus sativus probably originates from the Wild Radish Raphanus raphanistrum which is native to Europe and also a common weed worldwide. Domestication is thought to have first occurred in the eastern Mediterranean area. Early varieties were long and tapering rather than round. By 2780 BC Egyptians were cultivating radishes and by 500 BC they were being grown in China. There are different colours of radishes that arose in the following time sequence:

  • Black radishes were the earliest to be cultivated.

  • White radishes were being cultivated in Europe by the 1500's.

  • Red radishes were developed in the 1700's. Around this time, round radishes were also first produced. 

The Mougri Radish is grown in parts of Asia (e.g. India) for its long edible seed pods which it is claimed can grow to a length of 1 m although 20-60 cm is a more normal range. 

The Radish variety called 'Sakurajima' originates from the peninsula of Sakurajima in southern Japan and is characterised by the immense size of radishes which can reach 45 kg in weight!



  • Phillips, R. & Rix, M. 1993. Vegetables. Pan Books, London.

Text by Hamish Robertson