Brassica rapa (Rapifera Group)

Common Name: turnip 
Type: Annual
Family: Brassicaceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable


Sow seeds 1/2" deep, 1" apart, and thin to 2 to 4" apart in rows 1 1/2' apart in early spring (3 weeks before last likely frost). For best tasting crops, sow in mid-summer (early- to mid-August). Provide full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Keep soil evenly moist to ensure rapid growth and best flavor. Flavor of all turnips becomes more pungent under drier conditions. Turnips are best if harvested young, 2" or less in diameter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Turnips come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be round, flat, or cylindrical: yellow or white, with or without green, red, or purple near the top. Some can reach 50 pounds. Turnips are grown for both tops and roots. They’re low in fats and carbohydrate-rich. The larger the turnip, the more pungent. Turnips have an ancient lineage, European types having developed in the Mediterranean region. Early Greeks already had several varieties. The Asiatic turnips probably originated in Middle Asia west of the Himalayas. The European-type turnip was grown in what is now France at least as early as 100 A.D. In the time of Henry VIII, the English boiled or baked the roots, cooked the greens, and used young shoots raw in salad.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for cabbage.

Specific epithet means relating to turnips a member of this species.


Turnips are susceptible to the same pests as other brassicas: slugs, snails, cutworms, cabbage worms, root maggots, wireworms, and flea beetles. Diseases include fusarium wilt, southern blight, soft rot, black rot, brown heart, damping off, and powdery mildew. Woody turnips may be caused by insufficient water or fertilizer or delayed harvesting.


Both tops and root cooked or raw.