The UK Vegetable Genebank
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Diversity within crops is the raw material used by plant breeders when they develop new varieties. Many crops are
cultivated in different forms in different parts of the world, and the full range of these forms is not often seen on
supermarket shelves. Radish is a perfect example of this – it has a huge variety of root shapes, sizes and colours. At
the UK Vegetable Genebank, we have over 800 seed samples of different types of radish from across the world,
and we are able to show you a small part of this collection thanks to Elsoms Seeds, who have kindly grown up a
selection for us.
Belonging to the same family as cauliflowers, turnips and oilseed rape, radish (latin name Raphanus sativus) is a
surprisingly variable crop which is used in several ways besides being the colourful addition to salads we are
perhaps more used to in this country.
The small-rooted salad types have a variety of skin colours including red, purple, yellow and black. They can have
round or elongated roots and can be ready to harvest in as little as one month after sowing.
Larger-rooted types (for example daikon and mooli) tend to be more important in eastern and south eastern Asia.
Here, radish can be eaten cooked or raw, and can be preserved by picking, canning and drying as well as being
eaten fresh. Mougri is another type which is grown specifically for leaves and seed pods.
A fodder form of radish also exists which doesn’t develop a fleshy root. Other types are specifically grown for the
oil content of their seeds.
Plant breeders have made extensive use of a type of male sterility originally identified from radish (Ogura
Cyoplasmic Male Sterility). This prevents plants from producing pollen, and is used to control the direction of
crosses and stops flowers from self-pollinating. It has been transferred into and used in many other brassica crops.
Wild Relatives of Radish
Raphanus raphanistrum is the most widespread wild species and is found across Europe but also other areas of the
world. R. maritimus (sea radish) is found in coastal areas of the UK, and also in the Mediterranean region.
potentially offer sources of useful traits for crop plants, such as resistance to pests and diseases and tolerance of
unfavourable environments (drought, low nutrient levels and temperature extremes). By using the genetic
variation present in wild relatives of crops, we will be able to develop new and improved varieties which offer
increased productivity for decreased inputs – part of the solution to the issue of sustainable food security.
The following radish samples (accessions) can be seen in the field plot. Country of origin indicates where the seed
MINOWASE SUMMER CROSS NO 1(F1) HYBRID RADISH
MINOWASE SPRING CROSS (F1)
ROMALOCCIO NERO TONDO
UNUS TREIB HZ
BEI LUO BO
BEI JING BAI