Eat Your Weeds: Wild Radish

Wild radish Raphanus raphanistrum is a valuable winter and spring vegetable, in the brassica family. Whether the plant is native to the Mediterranean area or Asia is disputed, but it is now a globalised wild food that is loved by foragers far and wide.

The plant has various common names around the world, including cadlock, jointed charlock, and runch. The botanical name for wild radish derives from Greek, meaning to appear quickly: its germination is rapid, although the plant recedes if the soil remains undisturbed. Being a pioneer species, it likes disturbed soil. Where it springs up may indicate acidity, although it will grow in most soil types. It is a frost-hardy, tenacious plant. In a climate-changed future we may be eating a lot more plants like this.

Wild radish grows in all Australian states – it suits temperate and subalpine climates, and has also been found in subtropical areas; it hasn’t naturalised in the Northern Territory. While it can be a great food source, around four million hectares of it are sprayed each year in Australia with about $40 million worth of herbicide according to the Herbiguide website While it’s usually broadacre cropping farms that spray the plants, always be careful where you forage it – your gut flora doesn’t need any more residual pesticides.