Not to be semantically nor visually confused with : Sea Radish (Raphanis raphanistrum), Wild Radish (Raphanis raphanistrum ssp. maritimus) or
Garden Radish (Raphanis sativus) [plants with similar names belonging to the same Cabbage Family (Brassicaceaea) but in a differing Genus (Raphanus)]
Uniquely identifiable characteristics :
Distinguishing Feature : the oval basal leaves which stick more or less upright. When crushed the leaves smell of horseradish sauce.
Inhabits roadsides and waste ground, especially near the coast in Lancashire. Also grown in gardens for the cream-coloured semi-liquid with a biting taste that constitutes horse-radish sauce that can be prepared from its brownish roots. Horseradish sauce is used as a condiment on fried fish and the like.
When the almost odourless root is grated, the released enzymes contained within it which break down the Sinigrin (a glucosinolate) into Allyl-Isothiocyanate, a mustard oil with a pungent smell which forms between 64% to 84% of the total volatiles compounds produced by the root. If it is not immediately consumed or mixed with vinegar and cream to make a sauce and is instead left exposed to the air it loses its pungency becoming un-pleasantly bitter. The sauce is also made with cream.
Sinigrin also produces the breakdown product DiAllylSulphide. Sinigrin is found in other Brassica species, such as Wild Cabbage. Horse-radish also produces other mustard-oils such as
2-PhenylEthy-IsoThioCyanate (which comprises 4-18% of horseradish sauce. It must therefore possess the Glucosinolates which are necessary to produce those, and indeed does, the glucosinolate producing the
2-PhenylEthyl-Isothiocyanate is otherwise called Gluconasturtiin (aka
Horseradish also contains the enzyme horseradish peroxidase, a glycoprotein with a molecular weight of over 44 kilodaltons, which is used in the biological laboratory as an agent for assaying.
It is a ruderal plant able to take advantage of 3 mechanisms:
a) the roots are tuberous and contain great stores of energy able to sustain the plant over prolonged periods in times of stress
b) they are pioneer species able to quickly take over disturbed ground where ...
c) they may permanently suppress the establishment of rival species, usually by taking all the ground (and perhaps also by chemical means?).