Horseradish is a perennial herb. It has a deep fleshy taproot, with large green oblong ovate leaves that having slightly serrated margins, sprouting from the base to a height of 2ft. In summer, tiny white flowers appear on stems that can be up to 4ft long.
It is normally happy to occupy wasteland, or roadside verges. It rarely worries about the type of soil in which it grows, However, for garden and herbal/culinary use, it is better planted in a fertile moist soil. This will ensure fleshy - rather than 'stringy' roots. However, for dried herb uses, it matters not!
The herb can be propagated by seeds or cuttings in the spring, and prefers a moist soil. It can also be propagated from root cuttings - as can most fleshy rooted perennials.
If planting a root cutting, insert into the soil so that the top portion is around 2in (5cm) below the soil level and allow 2 ft (60cm) between each plant.
Be aware that contact with the sap - either from leaves or damaged roots - can cause skin irritation, but no more than that.
Horseradish will grow vigorously and is in danger of becoming a weed. Consider this when and where planting. Needless to say, Horseradish - or Armoracia rusticana - is fully hardy and even withstands the salt sprays after winter use on the highways!
It might therefore be suitable for seaside planting.
The leaves and flowers - white - can grow to a height of 3 feet (90cm) and it will easily spread that sort of dimension if unchecked in its growth. Whilst being hardy, it is not fully evergreen, so the foliage dies down in winter.
Be sure that you really want this in your herb garden before you plant it, for it is not the easiest of 'weeds' to dig out again, should it become one! erring on the side of caution, it can be planted in a robust container, and simply plunged into the ground.
In ancient Greek times, it was said to be worth its weight in gold! It should not be grown for that type of investement!
Horseradish has a high content of Silica (Silicon dioxide) it can be used to help brittle nails and hair. Eating Horseradish is a good way of fighting against food poisoning as it contains a chemical that helps to defeat common bacteria, e.g. Listeria and E. coli.
Horseradish root is used to help many conditions, such as bronchial infections, colds, coughs and sore throats. It is also used for rheumatic pain and to help to fasten the healing of broken bones.
Ongoing studies to a wide range of herbal medicinal remedies are as yet inconclusive. Far better to restrict its use to the culinary properties for which it is better known.
This hot and powerful herb has been highly valued since the Middle Ages in Europe, but it did not become popular in Britain until the 17 century. It was thought to be far too strong for our tender stomachs!
It is part of the wider 'Cabbage' family of Brassicas, and as such is prone to a few of the pests experienced by that group - including an attack by the cabbage White Butterfly, and even Clubroot.
Wasabi, is now made from the Horseradish plant as the original Wasabi plant has been used to rareity!
The first thing you think of when Horseradish is mentioned is the hot and fiery sauce we have with beef, but they are many other culinary uses for this herb. Try grating it fresh and add to salads. For milder tastes add lemon and apple it makes wonderful accompaniment. The powered form of Horseradish is made by grinding the root and then drying it in the heat. The great thing about Horseradish is it contains no fat and very little carbohydrate.
Mustard oil is one of several volatile oils found in Horseradish, and probably responsible for its pungent properties. It is also very high in Vitamin C, but would not normally be consumed in sufficient quantity for this to be a deciding factor in your nutritional diets.