Raphanus sativus 'Caudatus'
Common Name: rat tail radish
Type: Annual
Family: Brassicaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Attracts: Butterflies

Culture

This edible seed-pod-bearing relative of the everyday radish can be started in peat pots or sown directly into the garden anytime from 3 weeks before the last spring frost through at least the end of July. Sow about 6" apart with 1 1/2 to 2' between rows, in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Mulch, fertilize regularly, and keep well watered to reduce bitterness. Plants grow very tall, and can reach 30" quickly, with an eventual height of up to 5 feet. Keeping them in tall tomato cages or otherwise restraining them will greatly facilitate harvesting the edible seed pods. Pods must be harvested young and small, as early as 5 weeks after planting and continuously after that.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Raphanus sativus, commonly called the radishes, have had a long relationship with man. Southern Asia is believed to be the country of origin since truly wild forms have been found there. Middle Asia and India appear to be secondary centers where many different forms developed subsequently. Third-century B.C. Greeks wrote of their radishes, and by 100 A.D., Roman writers described small and large types, mild and biting varieties, and round and long forms. A German botanist in 1544 reported radishes of 100 pounds. Radishes appear to be one of the first European crops introduced into the Americas, closely behind the arrival of Columbus.

The white daikon (“big root” in Japanese) is common in Japan, and gardeners in increasing numbers are growing it here. The daikon has a milder, sweeter flavor than ordinary radishes. The root shape of all varieties is either long and cylindrical or short and round. The cylindrical roots range from 6" to 2' long and are either tapered or blunt at the end. The round varieties are the size of a baseball.

Genus name comes from the Latin name, from the Greek word rhaphanis used for this vegetable which has been known from antiquity.

Specific epithet means cultivated.

'Caudatus' is a cultivar, commonly called the podding radish. It is a close relative of the "regular" radish and is grown for its edible seed pods. Podding radishes have no thickened root (radish). Instead, the gardener desires this radish to bolt (go to seed) as quickly as possible so that the seed pods may be harvested and eaten. Abundant flowers, usually yellow, appear on the plant quickly and are soon followed with great numbers of edible seed pods.

Problems

Flea beetles can be a problem as well as other pests typically found on Brassicaceae crops. Floating row covers can be very useful.

Garden Uses

Pods must be harvested about half grown. At that stage the texture is crispy, tender, and very mild. They may be used fresh in salads, steamed, boiled, or in stir fry. As the pods mature they will become hard, spicy, hot and bitter, and unsuitable for eating.