Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) is a close relative of cultivated radishes, belonging to the same genus. Some sources give the domestic radish a different species designation (sativus) while others consider it to be a subspecies of R raphanistrum. Either way, the wild radish is not a garden variety that has naturalized.
Native to Europe, Western Asia and parts of North Africa, wild radish is now introduced to most temperate parts of the world. This member of the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) inhabits disturbed places such as vacant lots and roadsides as well as back beaches. Because wild radish invades cultivated crop fields, particularly cereals, it is considered an invasive or noxious weed.
The plant arises from a single taproot. Wild radish stems branch freely and may have some stiff hairs, particularly on the lower part of the plant. The lower leaves are broad and pinnately divided with a large terminal segment. The upper leaves are less divided. All the leaves may have some stiff hairs.
The wild radish inflorescence is terminal. The four petals can be white through various shades of purple and yellow, have prominent rose or purple veins, are paddle or spatula shaped and are widely spaced in a Maltese cross arrangement. All shades of color can be found together at the same location. The four wild radish sepals are narrow, lance-shaped and have sparse, stiff hairs toward the tip.
Wild radish fruits are fat, pithy, cylindrical seedpods. As they mature the seedpods develop constrictions between each reddish brown seed.
All parts of the wild radish plant are edible with a spicy taste and aftertaste. An annual or biennial, wild radish is frost hardy and is resistant to some herbicides.
The genus and species names derive from the Greek “raphanos” meaning “quick appearing” and refer to the fact that wild radish seeds germinate rapidly. Other common names for R raphanistrum include charlock, jointed radish and white charlock.
These wild radish plants were photographed in October along the rocky shoreline on the west side of Crescent City CA.