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Field Mustard (Brassica rapa L.)

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Native to Europe and Asia, and introduced in North America, where it is widely cultivated, and also has established scattered wild populations across the continent and is a common plant in some regions. This is the species grown for turnips, napa cabbage, bok choy, and canola oil. It is also a common weed both in gardens and commercial agriculture.

Range - Expand

Introduced or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.


Mostly found on open, disturbed ground in anthropogenic habitats, including agriculture, gardens, roadsides and railways.

Life Cycle

Grows opportunistically as an annual or occasionally a biennial, often growing as a winter annual but also can grow as a summer annual. Plants sprout from seed both in spring and fall, and quickly establish a taproot. Plants established in the fall overwinter as a basal rosette and then bolt upwards in spring; plants sprouting in the spring grow upwards immediately.

Flowering dates vary by conditions, usually from mid spring to early fall. Plants die after setting seed.

This plant relies on disturbance to remove competion, and populations are usually short-lived if an area is allowed to grow up with other vegetation.


Brassica rapa is a major food plant, and it has been cultivated in numerous different ways, both as a vegetable and oil seed crop. As a species, it encompasses as diverse vegetables as turnip, napa cabbage, and bok choy, and it is also used to produce canola oil.

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