Scientific Classification:

Kingdom Plantae
Order Brassicales
Family Brassicaceae
Genus Brassica
Species B. nigra
Binomial name Brassica nigra

Other Common Names:

The other common names for the herb mustard (black) are Mustard Seed, Brown mustard,White Mustard,Yellow mustard,Red mustard,Cadlock,Kerlock,Senvre and Scurvy.


Mustard was introduced by the Romans to Britain, and by the tenth century it had become an important medicinal plant. Mustard is a very interesting plant with a lot of history and many uses. It has both medicinal and culinary value useful to man in the past and present. Its many relatives are ever present in our daily lives as well. Mustard is the most widely used spice in the United States aside from black pepper. It is not known when it was first used as a condiment, but the Roman was known to have blended the crushed mustard seeds with must to make a sauce. Mustard gets its name from mustum (the must), or newly-fermented grape juice, and ardens (burning). It was originally eaten whole, or slightly crushed. When it was first employed as a condiment is unknown, but it was most likely used in England by the Saxons.

Probably the Romans, who were great eaters of mustard, pounded and steeped in new wine, brought the condiment with them to Britain. It was sold in balls till Mrs. Clements, of Durham, at the close of the eighteenth century, invented the method of preparing mustard flour, which long went under the name of Durham Mustard. At Dijon, where the best Continental mustard is made, the condiment is seasoned with various spices and savouries, such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon and Catsup of Walnuts or Mushrooms.


Black mustard (Brassica nigra), is an annual plant, with a stem three or four feet in height, divided and subdivided into numerous spreading branches. The leaves and lower portion of the stems are covered with bristly hairs. The leaves are petiolate and variously shaped. Those near the root are large, rough, lyrate-pinnate, and unequally toothed, those higher on the stem are smooth, and less lobed, and the uppermost are entire and narrow. The flowers are small, yellow, and stand closely together upon peduncles at the upper part of the branches.

The pods are smooth, erect, nearly parallel with the branches, quadrangular, and furnished with a slender beak; seeds numerous, dark brown. The calyx, the outer floral envelope, is green, and it prevents the developing parts within the flower bud from drying out. Within the calyx is the corolla of petals. The petals, yellow in color, attract the insects. Mustard is annual and readily reproduces from seeds. The smooth, erect flattened pods, each provided with a short slender beak, contain about ten to twelve dark reddish-brown or black seeds of pungent odour which are collected when ripe and dried. The seed coat is thin and brittle and covered with minute pits.


Mustard is widely distributed in the plains area of the United States and Canada. Mustard seeds are imported from Italy, Ethiopia, England, Denmark, and the Orient. The Black Mustard grows throughout Europe, except in the north-eastern parts, also in South Siberia, Asia Minor and Northern Africa, and is naturalized in North and South America. Mustard is widely distributed in the plains area of the United States and Canada. Mustard seeds are imported from Italy, Ethiopia, England, Denmark, and the Orient. The Black Mustard grows throughout Europe, except in the north-eastern parts, also in South Siberia, Asia Minor and Northern Africa, and is naturalized in North and South America.


Black mustard is a common weed and is cultivated in waste places almost throughout the United States, being especially troublesome in grain fields and pastures. It prefers habitat like Waste places, roadsides, beside streams and on sea cliffs.


Mustard is generally sown in spring with a foot or more apart between each seed, and ripens towards the end of summer. After the required period of growth the seed is threshed out and dried on trays by gentle artificial heat. It is mainly cultivated in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire on rich and alluvial soil. Before grinding, the husk is usually removed; the seeds are then passed between rollers and afterwards reduced to powder in a mortar. The only seeds resembling those of Black Mustard are Colchicum seeds, which are larger, rougher, harder, bitter and not pungent. During late summer, the ripened seeds of black mustard pods are collected and stored and the plants are also harvested for culinary use. The pods are tapped or beaten to let the seeds out and dried in a thin layer in the sun.

Flowering Season

The flowers of the herb mustard are generally said to be in bloom in early summer between the months of June to November.

Pests and Diseases

Mustard is attacked by various diseases and pests. The most serious diseases are blackleg, black rot, downy mildew, and club root. The diamond back moth, snails, and slugs can cause damage to the plants as well.

Parts Used


The seeds of the Mustard (black) are of both medicinal and commercial uses.

Medicinal Applications


• It strengthens the heart and resists poisons. A decoction of the seed in wine resists poison, the rnalignity of Mushrooms and the bites of venomous creatures.

• An outward application eases the pain of sciatica and the gout and aching joints.

• Mustard is used in the form of poultices for external application near the seat of inward inflammation, chiefly in pneumonia, bronchitis and other diseases of the respiratory organs.

• It relieves congestion of various organs by drawing the blood to the surface, as in head affections, and is of service in the alleviation of neuralgia and other pains and spasms.

• Oil of Mustard is a very useful application for chilblains, chronic rheumatism, colic, etc.

• Hot water poured on bruised Black Mustard seeds makes a stimulating footbath and helps to throw off a cold or dispel a headache. It also acts as an excellent fomentation.

• The bland oil expressed from the hulls of the seeds, after the flour has been sifted away, promotes the growth of the hair and may be used with benefit externally for rheumatism.

• The rubefacient action causes a mild irritation to the skin, stimulating the circulation in that area and relieving muscular and skeletal pain.

• Traditional doctors in the past used this oil as the basis for the renowned traditional mustard plaster used in so many treatments.

• The black mustard seeds have been shown to be very effective as external agents for the alleviation of sub-surface inflammations on the skin.

• It can be used in treating colds, influenza, bronchitis and fever.

• When taken internally, was reported highly successful in promoting the absorption of scar tissue.

• Compound liniment of mustard has been used by athletes for the relief of strained, aching muscles.

• The seeds of mustard crushed and mixed with honey make an excellent tonic for singers to have a clear voice.

Commercial Applications


• The Black Mustard is employed in cooking, as well as eaten as green vegetable. The young leaves may be eaten as salad.

• The oil is very little affected by frost or the atmosphere, and is therefore specially prized by clock-makers and makers of instruments of precision.

• The plant itself, including the stalk and the leaves are very nutritious food, and are either cooked or added to salads raw.

• Mustard is also a powerful germicide; surgeons used to disinfect their hands with a paste of mustard seeds and water.


The herb mustard (black) is said to be owned by the planet Mars.

Quotes from Scriptures

It is theorized that black mustard is the seed mentioned by Jesus in Matthew, the Bible.

Gerard in 1623 says the seed of Mustard pounded with vinegar is an excellent sauce, good to be eaten with any gross meats, either fish or flesh, because it doth help digestion, warmth the stomach and provoked appetite.'

Tusser mentions its garden cultivation and domestic use in the sixteenth century, and Shakespeare alludes more than once to it: Tewkesbury mustard is referred to in Henry IV.

Guatama Buddha also told a parable about the mustard seed, and in India, mustard is the symbol of reproductive generation.

Folklores and Myths

Folklores tell us that sprinkling of black mustard seeds and Sulphur Powder on an enemy's doorstep or throw the seeds in the yard causes trouble to them. It is believed to disrupt the activities of unwanted associates or troublesome people and is therefore found as an ingredient in formulas like Hot Foot Powder, Inflammatory Confusion Powder, and Law Keep Away Powder, and Court Case Oil. The ancient Greek physicians held mustard in such esteem that they attributed its discovery to Aesculapius, demigod of medicine and healing.