Mustard

Brassica nigra
Brassicaceae, Cabbage family
B. nigra flowering habit
B. nigra flowering habit
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20 NIV
B. nigra flowering habit
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Cultural Information

TypeEdible Annual
Height24 inches to 6 feet tall
Soilany soil
Exposurefull sun
Leaveslarge, deeply-lobed dull green leaves, some arching from central base, some smaller leaves along stem
Flowerspetite, pale yellow, four-petaled blossoms in raceme arrangement at end of spindly stalks

Planting Tips

  • a must for beginner gardens!
  • prefers the cooler temperatures of early spring and late fall
  • overwinters well in Zone 8 & warmer
  • seeds sprout quickly & leaves mature easily
  • till spent or yellowed leaves into soil to nourish growing plants
  • Brassica nigra is usually cultivated for making mustard condiment from its seeds; try a wider variety of mustard cultivars for bitter-tasty greens with a smaller habit
  • Caution: if your garden borders livestock grazing lands, choose “tame” varieties that are slow to bolt (flower) to prevent self-sowing in fields. Mustards are not good for livestock diets.

Garden to Table

  • mustards are great as“cut & come again,” meaning cut fresh leaves for cooking as needed & leave plant in place for more leaves to grow
  • cut new, tender leaves for sandwich greens
  • trim center rib away from leafy greens in mature leaves – ribs are tough
  • add chopped mustard greens to soups, rice, quinoa or barley dishes
  • simmer mature leaves in chicken broth or with a ham bone for several hours to make delicious “pot liquor”

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Mustard
In illustrating his story with a mustard seed, Jesus chose a plant with “unpredictable” spice...[to describe] God’s transforming power to radically and unexpectedly provide for those who are faithful to his calling.
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
B. nigra flowering habit
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31-32 NIV

Photo Credits

©2007 Forest & Kim Starr Flickr Creative Commons Brassica nigra flowering habit
© 2011 Raptorcaptor | Dreamstime.com - Black Mustard Seeds (Brassica nigra)
©2007 Matt Lavin Flickr Creative Commons Brassica nigra The two pairs of stamens are much longer the two solitary stamens
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