Horse Radish (cochlearia Armoracia, but by some botanists placed in nasturtium), a cruciferous plant having a root from an inch to 2 1/2 in. in diameter, and a stem 2 to 3 ft. high rising from the midst of numerous large radical leaves. The stem supports smaller leaves and clusters of white flowers, which bloom in June. The pod is small, of elliptical form, but is very rarely formed in this country or in England. The plant is probably a native of southern Europe, and is cultivated in gardens for the sake of its root, which is used as a condiment, and also to some extent as a medicine. It has when freshly scraped a hot, biting taste, and a pungent odor, due to a volatile oil which is dissipated by drying. This oil is similar to, if not identical with, that of mustard. It is highly stimulating in its action, promoting digestion in the same way and under the same limitations as the other aromatics. It has besides a marked effect in increasing the secretion of the kidneys, and has been used in dropsy and in chronic rheumatism, in the latter disease both externally and internally. It is an antiscorbutic. Horse radish bears a slight resemblance to aconite, and the root of the latter has sometimes been mistakenly substituted for the former with fatal results.
Horse radish is a minor crop of some importance, the root sometimes selling as high as $200 per ton, but its price fluctuates greatly, and the average is not more than half that. It is usually grown as a second crop; the sets, which are pieces of the lateral roots, 4 to 6 in. long, are dibbled in between the rows of early cabbages, about 18 in. apart. In cultivating the cabbages no regard is had to the horse radish, but if any growth pushes from the sets it is hoed off as if it were a weed. The cabbages are taken off in June, and the ground is left to the horse radish. An acre produces about five tons of roots, which are taken up before the ground freezes and stored in pits. The root is grated and put up in bottles with vinegar, but soon loses strength. In old gardens the horse radish often becomes a persistent weed.
Horse Radish (Cochlearia or Nasturtium Armoracia).