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


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.

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 radish cultivar grown for its edible seed pods. Commonly called rat tail, podding, or serpent radishes, these plants do not grow a thickened root. Abundant flowers, usually yellow, appear on the plant quickly and are soon followed by a great numbers of edible seed pods.


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


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.