Publication: Ill. Fl. Mitt.-Eur. 4: 201. 1918.
Origin: Introduced from Eurasia
selected vouchers: WTU
Notes: P. Miller coined E. sativa in 1754, preceeding Garsault's E. sativa in 1767.
FNA7: "Subspecies sativa, widely naturalized and cultivated, was first introduced as a weed in North America in Flathead County, Montana, in 1898, with additional reports from 1900 to the 1920s as a seed contaminant of alfalfa fields in the United States.
Subspecies vesicaria and pinnatifida (Desfontaines) Emberger & Maire are endemic to Spain and North Africa and have escaped from cultivation in Europe; they seem not to have become adventive in North America (R. C. Rollins 1993). Recent molecular studies by S. I. Warwick and L. D. Black (1993) support the treatment of subsp. vesicaria and its presumed derivative subsp. sativa as a single species; subsp. pinnatifida is maintained as Eruca pinnatifida (Desfontaines) Pomel.
The earliest cultivation of subsp. sativa dates back to the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is currently grown in Europe and North America as a salad plant and in Asia for cooking oil and as food for animals. The oil is also used as an industrial lubricant and for cosmetic and medicinal purposes (I. A. Al-Shehbaz 1985). The seed cake and the entire plant are used as fodder for domestic animals. The oil is high in erucic acid and glucosinolates and is known to cause various skin allergies."