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Useful Tropical Plants

Brassica rapa chinensis

(L.) Hanelt

Brassicaceae


This species has been cultivated as a food crop for many hundreds of years and, in that time, several quite distinct forms have arisen. The nomenclature of these forms is confused, to say the least, and by no means universally accepted. We have followed the treatment used by GRIN, though it is very likely to be revised in the future[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Brassica chinensis L.

Brassica napus chinensis (L.) Schulz.

Brassica oleracea chinensis (L.) Prain

Brassica campestris chinensis (L.) Makino

Brassica chinensis utilis M.Tsen & S.H.Lee

Brassica dubiosa L.H.Bailey

Brassica rapa amplexicaulis Y.Tanaka & Ono

Brassica rapa chinensis (L.) Kitam.

Brassica rapa rosularis M.Tsen & S.H.Lee

Raphanus chinensis (L.) Crantz

Common Name: Pak Choi

Brassica rapa chinensis
Young plants, ready for eating
Photograph by: Philippe Put
Creative Commons License
Brassica rapa chinensis Brassica rapa chinensis Brassica rapa chinensis

General Information

Pak choi is a biennial plant developed in cultivation from Brassica rapa. Growing from a taproot that is not fleshy, it forms an open head of twenty or more leaves from a basal rosette. The leaves have thick, fleshy petioles. The plant grows 20 - 40cm tall, eventually producing a flowering stem up to 100cm tall.
The plant is widely cultivated in both temperate and tropical areas, but especially in China, for its edible leaves[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Known Hazards

The oil contained in the seed of some varieties of this species can be rich in erucic acid which is toxic. However, modern cultivars have been selected which are almost free of erucic acid.

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

A cultivar of garden origin.

Habitat

Not known in the wild.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitBiennial
Height0.35 m
PollinatorsBees, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

Pak choi arose through cultivation in the warm temperate zone and can also be cultivated in the tropics and subtropics . It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 25°c, but can tolerate 10 - 32°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Plants are not tremendously winter-hardy, though they will withstand light frosts[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 1,400mm, but tolerates 300 - 2,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained fertile preferably alkaline soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a cool moist reasonably fertile soil[
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 to 7.5[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant is shallow rooted and intolerant of drought, it needs to be grown in a moist fertile soil for the best quality leaves[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].
A fast-growing plant, there are many named varieties and some can be ready in as little as five weeks from sowing the seed[
88
Title
The Garden. Volume 112.
Publication
 
Author
RHS.
Publisher
Royal Horticultural Society
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Snippets of information from the magazine of the RHS. In particular, there are articles on plants that are resistant to honey fungus, oriental vegetables, Cimicifuga spp, Passiflora species and Cucurbits.
,
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
,
264
Title
Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Macmillan Reference Books, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0 333 62640 0
Description
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.
].
Forms with green stems tend to stand up better to adverse conditions than white-stemmed forms[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].
Yields may be 10 - 20 tonnes per hectare for small cultivars and 20 - 30 tonnes for large cultivars[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]..

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw or cooked[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
52
Title
Salads all the Year Round.
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom. J.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1980
ISBN
 
Description
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
116
Title
Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2.
Publication
 
Author
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Publisher
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
A small booklet packed with information.
]. They can be eaten at any stage from seedling to mature plant[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
]. Well-flavoured, they are sweet with a hint of mustard[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].The leaves are also dried for winter use[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
]. The leaves have pronounced stems and these can also be eaten, they tend to have a mild, almost bland flavour[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
]. A nutritional analysis is available[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Immature flowering stems - cooked like broccoli[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
]. A sweet flavour[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Medicinal

The leaf is antiarthritic, antiscorbutic and resolvent[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Other Uses

Some forms of this plant are cultivated for their oil-rich seeds[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. A semi-drying oil, it can be used as a lubricant, luminant, in soap making etc[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
57
Title
Plants for Man.
Publication
 
Author
Schery. R. W.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ

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