Description of turnip: origin, features and structure

Turnip is not a frequent guest on our table, and not everyone can brag that they know its taste. Meanwhile, it is an extremely interesting, tasty and healthy vegetable. The article will discuss the features of this root crop and how to properly grow and use it for gastronomic and medicinal purposes.

The origin of turnips

The history of turnip origin is mixed. According to one version, this garden plant first appeared in a cultivated form in the same place where the most ancient agricultural civilizations of South-West Asia arose - in the mountainous regions of present-day India and Afghanistan.

More than 6000 years ago, the local population collected wild thin-root forms (the ancestors of the current turnip) and introduced them into the culture, spreading further to the west: to Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, and the Southern Mediterranean.

According to another, diametrically opposite point of view, turnip comes from the northern coastal regions of Sweden, the Netherlands, and Great Britain, from where it later spread to the territory of the Balkans, to Asia Minor.

Some scientists, after a thorough study of various plant forms and a linguistic analysis of turnip names in different countries, came to the conclusion that there were both primary centers of origin - both European and Asian.

One way or another, this vegetable was well known in Babylon, and in Ancient Greece and Egypt, and in the Roman Empire. Moreover, if the Egyptians considered turnips the food of slaves and servants, then the Greeks laid it on the altar in temples, and the Roman patricians did not shun baked turnips at their feasts.

In Russia, turnip was the basis of the diet, having got here from Byzantium, which is confirmed by the origin of the name. In Latin, this root crop is called Brassica rapa (from the Greek. "Rapa, rapidus" - fast-growing).

For many centuries, not a single meal was served without turnip dishes (stews, pies, cereals, pickles and even kvass), and only 150 years ago, after a long popular resistance, potatoes took the place of turnips.

Did you know? In antiquity, there was a very honorable profession of spitters turnip seeds. They could not do without them, since the vegetable has a lot (more than a million per kilogram) of the smallest seeds that needed to be correctly distributed across the field.

Vegetable characteristic

Consider what this root crop of the Cabbage family looks like and whether it has characteristic features.


Turnip is a herbaceous plant, the details of the description of which depend on the variety.

By scope of application, these varieties are distinguished:

  • dining rooms (these include salad varieties with edible foliage);
  • feed (or, as they are also called, turnips).

Common to all varieties is the presence of a basal rosette of large leaves, a fleshy, succulent root crop, a stem with golden flowers.

Varieties differ in such morphological characteristics:

  • pulp color (white, yellow, less often white-pink or white-purple);
  • in the form of a root crop (round, flat, elongated);
  • by the nature of the root surface (smooth, slightly mesh, strongly mesh);
  • according to the color of the aerial part of the root crop (violet-headed, green-headed, bronze-headed).

Table varieties are usually round and flat, turnip has an elongated root shape.

Check out the best varieties of turnips for growing.

Botanical Description

Turnips are characterized by:

  • thickened stem with a height of 50 to 140 cm;
  • lyre-like, cirrus-incised basal leaves of green color with long petioles and pubescence;
  • voluminous stem leaves (rounded, dentate or sessile);
  • the diameter of the ripe root crop is from 3 to 5 cm;
  • fruit in the form of a pod with a long nose;
  • branched flower stalks;
  • a large number of small oval burgundy seeds (1000 pieces / 1 g).

This biennial plant has two growing periods:

  1. In the first year, it gives a basal rosette and root crop, accumulating nutrients.
  2. In the second year - a stem with flowers and seeds, dying by autumn.

Thus, turnip refers to monocarpic plants, that is, to flowering and fruiting once in a lifetime.

Did you know? A Japanese leaf variety called komatsuna does not have an edible root crop. It is also known as spinach mustard and is used to make zoni - New Year's soup with rice cakes .


The root crop includes the lower part of the shoot and hypocotyl (the area between the root and cotyledons), the structure of which includes:

  • single-layer peel;
  • cortex of parenchymal cells containing chloroplasts and endoderm;
  • central cylinder of conductive fabrics.

The most important of the conducting tissues is xylem, in the cells of which nutrients accumulate, leading to the saturation of cellular juice and, as a result, to the succulence of the root crop. The peculiarity of the hypocotyl is that it grows, forming a neck (in this turnip is similar to its "relative" - ​​beetroot).

As it grows, the hypocotyl carries cotyledons to the surface of the soil, which contain a supply of nutrients and are an assimilation (forming organic matter) organ until leaves appear.

A characteristic feature of turnip is a pronounced epidermal layer of seeds, prone to swelling in water (mucus).

Biological features

Turnip tolerates cold well, its seeds can withstand temperatures down to -5 ° C. The optimum temperature regime for growing is 15–18 ° С.

At the same time, this vegetable:

  • moisture- and photophilous;
  • prefers loose and fertile soil (sandy loam and loam) with neutral acidity;
  • can be planted twice a year (in early spring for use in the summer and in July for storage in the winter);
  • has a growing season from 40 to 50 days;
  • responds well to such predecessors on the ground as potatoes, cucumbers, onions (planting after cabbage, radish and beets is not recommended);
  • possesses good keeping quality.

Type of inflorescence

At the beginning of flowering, this plant is characterized by a corymbose inflorescence (flowers are collected in the form of a saucer, and bloom from the edges of the inflorescence to the center). By the end of flowering, the inflorescence takes the form of a brush with the arrangement of flowers on an elongated main axis. The length of the peduncle deviated at an acute angle is 3–8 cm.

Using the formula Ca4 P4 A2 + 4 G1, you can understand what structure the flower has:

  • 4 cups arranged crosswise;
  • 4 petals;
  • 2 short and 4 long androeciums;
  • 1 pestle.

Chemical composition

Turnip has a very rich composition, and in many respects it surpasses the usual root crops (potatoes, beets, carrots).

This vegetable contains:

  • the amount of vitamin C is two times greater than in oranges and lemons;
  • vitamins of group B, PP, A;
  • minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, manganese);
  • fiber, pectin and starch;
  • succinic acid;
  • essential oils (mainly mustard), giving a characteristic sweetish-spicy taste with a slight bitterness;
  • bactericidal substance synergine;
  • enzymes myrosine, invertase, peroxidase;
  • from 3 to 10% sugars;
  • up to 3% protein (in leaves).

Did you know? Every year in November, the streets of the Swiss city of Richterswil are decorated with turnip lanterns, which marks the beginning of a festival dedicated to this vegetable. Turnip parade and fair have been held there for almost a century.

Useful properties and harm

Due to its chemical composition, turnip is very useful.

  • It has properties such as:
  • restorative (supports the immune system);
  • anti-inflammatory, bactericidal;
  • antirachitic;
  • antianemic;
  • mucolytic;
  • blood purifying;
  • metabolic
  • diuretic;
  • dietary (due to high nutrition and low calorie content - 30 kcal / 100 g).

  • Despite such a wide range of actions, turnip is not recommended for use by such categories of persons:
  • suffering from chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • with disorders of the endocrine system and diabetes (due to the large number of sugars);
  • with severe pathologies of the liver and kidneys;
  • epileptics.

Application features

Over the centuries of its popularity, turnip has become an ingredient in many culinary recipes and traditional medicine. This vegetable has its own specific application, which will be discussed later.

In cooking

Root vegetables to taste resemble at the same time potatoes and cabbage, but have a sweet, slightly sharp taste.

They can be eaten raw (in salads) or subjected to any processing:

  • cook (in particular, steamed);
  • fry;
  • make mashed potatoes, cereals, meatballs, juice and jam;
  • bake;
  • stew;
  • grease;
  • dry.

When choosing a root crop, you need to pay attention to the following nuances:

  • the fetus must be heavy (without voids);
  • it is best to use young fruits with a thin skin;
  • fruit with uncut tails is preferred (this indicates the freshness of the product);
  • the peel should be smooth and even;
  • the tops should be fresh, not faded, with a pleasant aroma;
  • small fruits are best consumed immediately; large fruits can be stored for longer;
  • The maximum shelf life in the refrigerator in the bag is 30 days.

Before cooking, the roots are washed, the tails and the skin are removed. If the turnip is supposed to be boiled, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the water (for softness). The average cooking time is 20 minutes.

Cooked dishes will go well with spices, garlic, pickles, and will also be an excellent side dish for smoked or salted meat, giving it a juiciness.

Important! One of the best varieties for eating is Snow White, White Ball. Due to the delicate taste and juicy pulp, they are suitable including for baby food, starting from the age of three.

Salad leaves are like spinach. They also make salads, add them to soups and sauces.

In folk medicine

Folk methods of treatment with decoctions, tinctures and lotions from turnips have passed the test of time. The fruits are harvested in the fall, before the onset of cold weather.

Listed below are some of the many recipes that use turnips in their composition:

  1. As a preventive measure, acute respiratory viral infections make root juice from the root (using a meat grinder or juicer) and mix it with honey in equal proportions. Take one tablespoon three times a day after meals.
  2. From insomnia, a decoction is used. To do this, rub the vegetable on a grater, pour boiling water, boil for 15 minutes, filter. Take 3 times a day, 50 ml.
  3. To heal abrasions and bruises, apply a slice to the damaged area or treat it with vegetable juice.
  4. With gout, the root crop is boiled, chopped, mixed with ghee until a creamy consistency is obtained. They put on a sore spot.
  5. Juice can also rinse the oral cavity to relieve toothache, reduce bleeding gums, strengthen teeth.

Basic rules for planting and growing

As already mentioned, turnips are planted with seeds in open ground.

Check out the storage features of turnips in the cellar in winter.

Landing can be done twice a year:

  • in late March - early April (since the plant is not afraid of return frosts);
  • in the first decade of July.

The soil must be well moistened before planting. In order not to thicken the crops, pre-soaked for a day and dried seeds are mixed with sand (1 teaspoon of seeds in half a glass of sand). The mixture is taken with a pinch and sown in the same movements as usually salted food.

Planting depth - 1–2 cm. Planting pattern - 10 × 10 cm. Crops are covered with a film, which is removed after emergence.

Important! Turnip does not tolerate fertilizer with fresh manure and chlorinated preparations. It is better to make ready-made universal fertilizer and wood ash before planting. During the season, fertilizer is applied twice more: nitrophoska after germination, potassium sulfate - before the appearance of the root crop.

Turnip is unpretentious.

It is enough to observe the following care rules:

  1. Regular watering (4-5 times a week, taking into account the condition of the soil, avoiding excessive swampiness) based on the calculation of a bucket of settled water per 1 sq. Km. meter beds.
  2. Systematic loosening and weeding.
  3. In case of infection with pests (cabbage aphids, whites, weevils), the affected plant is removed. If the lesion area is large, they are treated with insecticides (for example, “Fundazol”).

Harvesting is done in early October. For excavation, forks are used with care so as not to injure the fruit. Harvested root vegetables are placed in boxes, sprinkled with sand or straw. You can store in the basement at a temperature of +2 ... + 3 ° С.

Turnip is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. It has an unusual piquant taste and juicy flesh, ideal for culinary experiments. In addition, it is very simple to grow it, there is no need to mess with seedlings in pots, because this vegetable is hardy, cold-resistant and unpretentious.

Interesting Articles