arugula

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 17, 2022

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Eruca sativa (syn. E. vesicaria subsp. sativa (Miller) Thell., Brassica eruca L.) is an edible annual plant, commonly known as salad rocket, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette and, in the United States, arugula. It is sometimes conflated with Diplotaxis tenuifolia, the perennial wall rocket, another plant of the Brassicaceae family, which in the past was used in the same manner. Eruca sativa, which is widely popular as a salad vegetable, is a species of Eruca native to the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal in the west to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey in the east. The Latin adjective sativa in the plant’s binomial is derived from satum, the supine of the verb sero, meaning “to sow”, indicating that the seeds of the plant were sown in gardens. Eruca sativa differs from E. vesicaria in having early deciduous sepals. Some botanists consider it a subspecies of Eruca vesicaria: E. vesicaria subsp. sativa. Still others do not differentiate between the two. Other common names include garden rocket, or more simply rocket (British, Australian, Canadian, South African and New Zealand English), and eruca. The English common name, rocket, derives from the French roquette, a diminutive of the Latin word eruca, which designated an unspecified plant in the Brassicaceae family (probably a type of cabbage). Arugula, the common name now widespread in the United States, entered American English from non-standard (dialect) Italian. (The standard Italian word is rucola, a diminutive of the Latin “eruca”). The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of “arugula” in American English to a 1960 New York Times article by food editor and prolific cookbook writer Craig Claiborne. Eruca sativa grows in height. The leaves are deeply pinnately lobed with four to ten small lateral lobes and a large terminal lobe. The flowers are in diameter, arranged in a corymb in typical Brassicaceae fashion; with creamy white petals veined with purple, and with yellow stamens; the sepals are shed soon after the flower opens. The fruit is a siliqua (pod) long with an apical beak, and containing several seeds (which are edible). The species has a chromosome number of 2n = 22.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.