Field of Rape

Brassica napus

English summer. Related to turnips but a variety grown for its seed, rapeseed, which produces a high-quality vegetable oil. These turnip greens were the plant Rapunzel’s mother coveted during her pregnancy (hence Rapunzel’s name, little turnip girl)…a not unusual craving even among the non-pregnant in cold countries where the first greens of spring (such as dandelions) provided vitamins lacking in a winter diet.

In the 1970s Canadians came up with a natural hybrid of rape and marketed rapeseed oil under the once-trademarked name canola oil (Canada oil) which has now fallen into generic use.

GPlus Comments

Michael O’Reilly – 2013-07-27 21:03:25-0400 I just don’t understand why they didn’t want to market it as rapeseed oil, +M Sinclair Stevens.

M Sinclair Stevens – 2013-07-27 21:07:04-0400 Like “niggardly,” rapeseed is a term that has fallen out of use because people are willfully ignorant of what it means and react to what they think it means. I’m here to correct that. 🙂

Cass Morrison – 2013-07-27 21:08:22-0400 Because Canola has a low erucic acid  and glucoscinolate which makes it more suitable for eating. That differentiates it from the rapeseed oil common before canola.

M Sinclair Stevens – 2013-07-27 21:20:53-0400+Cass Morrison Exactly! They took an oil that had been used primarily for machine lubrication and made it much more palatable for animal and human consumption. In 1956, USDA had actually banned rapeseed oil for human consumption. But the hybrids produced in the 1970s reduced the erucic acid and by the 1980s, Canola oil was being sold in the US as a low in saturated fat alternative to animal fats (such as butter).

 Jon Hole – 2013-07-27 21:37:58-0400 Great information +M Sinclair Stevens

Jonas Neergaard-Nielsen – 2013-07-28 03:19:22-0400 Ah, beautiful. In late spring, Denmark is likewise covered in yellow blankets – I love the sight. 
I was often confused by the term canola oil in English recipes – we call it rapsolie. 

Do you know if the greens themselves are used for eating in UK? We don’t, but in Japan it’s fairly common. They have a wonderfully fresh, bitter taste with hints of mustard. Perhaps they use a different sort. 

Cass Morrison – 2013-07-28 08:33:07-0400 Certainly in Canada, because of harvesting methods, the greens are not eaten but it’s no surprise that it would taste mustardy as Brassica is part of the mustard family.

Jens Nyborg – 2013-07-28 08:36:35-0400+Jonas Neergaard-Nielsen  As I understand it canola is Brassica napus. The closely related turnips and rapini (and similar Asian leaf-greens) are Brassica rapa.

However, the two species are so closely related that it’s not quite certain whether they are two species.

When all’s said and done, there is no hard and fast rule to determine exactly when infertility is low enough to make a species split in two.

Jonas Neergaard-Nielsen – 2013-07-28 17:41:48-0400+Cass Morrison, +Jens Nyborg – thanks for the info. So there really is no point in trying to eat the plants in the field…

It’s a pity we don’t have the Asian species here – I miss it!