Arugula/Garden Rocket (Eruca sativa)

Eruca sativa (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.), is an edible annual plant, commonly known as rocket (roquette) or arugula, not to be confused with Wild rocket. It is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal east toLebanon and Turkey. It is closely related to Eruca vesicaria and included by some botanists in that either as a subspecies E. vesicaria subsp. sativa or not distinguished at all; it can be distinguished from E. vesicaria by its early deciduous sepals.

It is an annual plant growing 20–100 centimetres (8–39 in) in height. The leaves are deeply pinnately lobed with four to ten small lateral lobes and a large terminal lobe. The flowers are 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) in diameter, arranged in a corymb, with the typical Brassicaceae flower structure; the petals are creamy white with purple veins, and the stamens yellow; the sepals are shed soon after the flower opens. The fruit is a siliqua (pod) 12–35 millimetres (0.5–1.4 in) long with an apical beak, and containing several seeds (which are edible).

Vernacular names include garden rocket or simply rocket (British, Australian & New Zealand English), eruca, rocket salad, and arugula (American and Canadian English). All names ultimately derive from the Latin word eruca, a name for an unspecified plant in the family Brassicaceae, probably a type of cabbage.

It is used as a leaf vegetable, which looks like a longer leaved and open lettuce. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium. It is frequently cultivated, although domestication cannot be considered complete. It has been grown in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, and is considered an aphrodisiac. Before the 1990s it was usually collected in the wild and was not cultivated on a large scale or researched scientifically. In addition to the leaves, the flowers (often used in salads as an edible garnish), young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

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