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Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa, arugula or rocket (variously spelled rugula and roquette), is a annual, often weedy, herbaceous plant in the Brassicaceae (mustard family) that originated in the Mediterranean region (including northwest Africa) and Western Asia, and is now widely cultivated for its piquant leaves (which are used in salads and as a cooked green) and oil-rich seeds (which are used as oilseeds, similar to rapeseed, Brassica napus).

Arugula grows to 0.8 m (around 2.5 ft) tall, and has alternate, deeply lobed, often lyre-shaped leaves, with a large terminal lobe. The 4-petalled flowers are white to creamy yellow, often with purplish veins, and are up to 2.5 cm (1 in) long. The fruit is a silique--a two-parted capsular fruit that dehisces (splits open) when mature—that may be up to 2.5 cm long, containing several hard round seeds that contain up to 30% oil.

Arugula, which is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and in calcium, has long been used in Mediterranean cuisine, but has become widely popular throughout Europe and North America in recent decades for use in salads. In Asia, arugula has typically been cultivated for its seed oil for culinary purposes (including pickling) as well as industrial uses (as a lubricant) and as a source of erucic acid (used in oil paints and as a lubricant. In traditional medicine, arugula has been used as a stimulant and diuretic, and to treat stomach disorders.

(Bailey et al. 1976, Flora of China 2007, Hedrick 1919, Van Wyk 2005.)


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