Horseradish: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on horseradish

Horseradish is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family with large, variably sized (up to 2' long), dock-like, toothed, shiny, dark green leaves and insignificant, whitish flowers which appear in summer in terminal panicles. An extremely vigorous plant that crowds out most weeds and is itself weed-like, with a very spreading growth habit (particularly if the roots are not harvested every year).

common names & nomenclature
The word horseradish is from the 1590s. It combines the word horse (formerly used as an adjective meaning "strong, large, or coarse") and the word radish. Despite the name, this plant is poisonous to horses.

Also known as:
cochlearia armoracia, mountain radish, great raifort, red cole, moutarde des allemands

Horseradish, the hot and sweet plant
Horseradish: Where in the World
habitat and range for horseradish

Horseradish is native to southeastern Europe and western Asia. It is now popular around the world.

Horseradish: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting horseradish

Grows best in full sun, favor damp locations such as by streams, grown in cultivated gardens.

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Soil rich in organic matter will produce the largest, most pungent roots.

Plants rarely produce viable seed. Usually grown as an annual (i.e., plant root cuttings in spring and harvest roots in late fall).

Typically harvested in fall, however roots may be harvested at any time (they can remain in the soil year-round, but should be harvested no later than the following spring). Root is dried and powdered for later use.

Store dried horseradish root powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Horseradish: The Rest of the Story
horseradish history, folklore, literature & more

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is a flowering, perennial member of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes cruciferous vegetables such as mustard, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and wasabi. Native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, horseradish is now cultivated throughout the world, although it can only be grown successfully as an annual in certain regions. In hardy zones, however, the plant will soon become invasive if it isn’t contained, producing new plants from underground runners that shoot off the main taproot.

On a commercial scale, horseradish is produced throughout Europe, South Australia and in California and Wisconsin in the U.S. Collinsville, Illinois, however, is the self-proclaimed “Horseradish Capital of the World,” a title well-deserved since the town hosts a International Horseradish Festival every June to celebrate the fact that it produces 60% of the world’s horseradish supply. Combine this with horseradish-producing farms in neighboring Illinois and the entire area represents 85% of the world’s supply of commercially cultivated horseradish.