Armoracia rusticana Gaertn. (Horseradish)

Crop Type: Garden Crop

Breeding system: Predominantly allogamous

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana Gaertn., C.A. Meyer et Schreb.) is a perennial plant species belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Large-leaved horseradish has white to light yellow strong wasabi and mustard tasting thick roots which are used mainly as spice in pickles preserved in vinegar (also as mould preventer), fish dishes, and sauces and dressings. It can be used as a substitute to the more expensive wasabi. It is used as uncooked small pieces and as grated. Leaves are also edible.

Although it flowers in early summer with white flowers it is mainly vegetatively propagated since seed yield is very poor or absent. It is a very vigorous and hardy species being able to grow decades in the same growing site and colonize a larger area. As easily propagated from roots, the same clones have probably spread from the peace of root from garden to garden by people.

Horseradish is probably native to western Asia and southeastern Europe and has been grown throughout recorded history. Mentions of it are already made in ‘De material medicia libri quinque’ written in 100 A.D, in Greek mythology, Pliny's ‘Natural History,’ and Shakespeare. (Alfaro 2019; Wedelsbäck Bladh 2014). Horseradish has also been grown in Finland for centuries for it is already mentioned in a monastery’s medicinal instructions that have been dated to late 1400’s. (Kairikko 2006).

Production of horseradish is found in all parts of the world. In Europe the main production take place in Hungary with a production on 1200 ha, but also Austria, Germany and Poland have a commercially production of horseradish. A large amount is produced in North America, in both Canada and USA. USA is the largest producer of horseradish in the world with an area on 1600 ha, with Illinois as the main production center. In China, production has increased during the last years. (Wedelsbäck Bladh 2014).

In 2017 the total cultivation area of horseradish was 6.52 ha by three farms in Finland (Finnish Food Authority 2019).  During earlier decades horseradish was commonly grown in home gardens in countryside and used as spice. If horseradish is left to grow in garden, it grows numerous side roots making difficult to dig up and roots remain thin. Commercial cultivation methods produce thick roots.

Horseradish has a high nutrient and mineral content, which include dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese, as well as its organic chemical composition of enzymes and oils, like sinigrin, which is a powerful glucosinolate. It is associated with many health benefits, such as anti-cancer properties, boosting of immune system, improving digestion, helping with weight loss and lowering blood pressure. (Staughton 2019).

  • Alfaro D (2019) The Spruce Eats. What is horseradish?
  • Finnish Food Authority (2019) Statistics database.
  • Kairikko H (2006) Piparjuuri (Armoracia rusticana P. Gaertn., B. Meyer & Schreb.). In: Ahokas H., Galambosi B., Kairikko, H., Kallela M., Sahramaa M., Suojala-Ahlfors T., Valo R., Veteläinen M (2006) Suomen kansallisten kasvigeenivarojen pitkäaikaissäilytysohjeet, Vihannes-, yrtti- ja rohdoskasvit. [Guidelines for Long-term Conservation of Finnish Plant Genetic Resources: Vegetables, Herbs and Medicinal Plants] Maa- ja elintarviketalous 85. Jokioinen: MTT.  99 p. ISBN 952-487-036-3 URN:
  • Staughton J (2019) Organic Facts. 11 Impressive benefits of horseradish.
  • Wedelsbäck Bladh K, Liljeroth E, Poulsen G, Yndgaard F, Kolodinska Brantestam A (2014) Genetig diversity in Nordic horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, as revealed by AFLP markers. Genet Resour Crop Evol 61:383-394. doi: 10.1007/210722-013-0042-9