Horseradish / All Year / Edible
Horseradish is something that we all have probably eaten in the past, but wild horseradish can be found growing all over the UK and tastes great.
Horseradish contains volatile oils namely allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil) and can be poisonous if eaten in large quantities.
People who are pregnant or lactating, suffering from hepatitis, acid reflux, thyroid disorders, hyperacidity and inflammatory bowel disorders, should avoid consumption of large quantities.
Wild Horseradish Could be confused with
Some members of the dock family have similar leaves but lack the horseradish scent when crushed. They are also dull in appearance.
Wild Horseradish Foraging Video
Range & Distribution
Native to Western Asia it arrived in the UK before the 15th century and has thrived, it causes no problems in the wild.
Commonly found on waste ground, woodland edges and by the coast.
Physical Characteristics of Wild Horseradish
Wild Horseradish looks most similar to dock and the easiest time of the year to identify between the two is in autumn when the dock leaves start to look rough and get red damage marks on the leaves. Horseradish leaves will stay vibrant and lush green. I always think if you see something that looks like an incredibly healthy dock leaf in autumn you’ve most likely got yourself some horseradish.
A large, white, tapered root, the root when intact doesn’t really smell but once grated, chopped or damaged it will release the familiar aroma. The root can become quite gnarled and be difficult to remove depending on ground conditions and permission must be gained from the land owner.
Hairless, bright green, unlobed leaves that can grow upto 1 metre long and resemble dock leaves. When crushed they give off the horseradish scent.
The white four-petalled flowers are scented and grow in dense panicles. The flowers as with many members of the Brassicaceae family form a cross.
Edible Uses of wild horseradish
The leaves and the roots are both edible.
The young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach or cabbage.
The root is really the best part of this plant. It is best to harvest it in early winter. It is much stronger in flavour than the cultivated variety and is traditionally used to make horseradish sauce.
It also has many uses in herbalism including to treat skin redness, digestive disorders, constipation, chest infections, arthritis, chilblains, muscle soreness, and urinary tract infections.
It has also been used as a diuretic, antiseptic and expectorant. Research is being undertaken into potential anti-tumour properties.