Turkish Rocket

(Bunias orientalis)

Description

This incredibly hardy herbaceous perennial is in the Brassica family, and has simple, serrated leaves arranged oppositely along the stalk, forming a rosette-like cluster around the base. The leaves can appear somewhat similar to dandelion or chicory. The stalk grows about two feet tall and produces small florets that look much like broccoli, which blossom into many small four-petaled yellow flowers. The seed is a small green ball that dries into a mildly wrinkled brown ball, about 3-5 mm across.

 

Cultivation Tips

Turkish Rocket is very easy to grow, tolerating most soil conditions. The deep taproot makes this plant incredibly drought resistant. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It has also proven to be exceptionally resistant to deer and rabbit forage. Turkish Rocket can be regrown readily from root fragments, cut with sharp pruning shears to lengths of 2” or more, or regrown from seed. Seeds cast out in the fall will germinate very readily in the spring, so be sure to collect all seeds if you don’t want this plant taking over. This plant is one of the best from a food-resilience perspective.

Uses

The young florets and stalks make a delicious vegetable when cooked like asparagus, with tastes of broccoli rabe and cabbage. Leaves are are mildly bitter, especially when older, but this bitterness mostly disappears with cooking, making them good eats boiled, steamed, or sautéd. Check out some recipes here. This plant mines for nutrients deep in the ground with its taproot, making the entire plant highly nutritious. Harvesting the stalks will prompt more regrowth, similar to asparagus. The flowers are a good source of pollen and nectar for pollinators and predatory insects.

Friends

Turkish rocket makes a great addition to any low perennial vegetable bed, and can also be useful around young shrub and tree elements, if harvested to allow light to larger elements. The rocket will maintain its foliage even in drought conditions, protecting the soil around the larger elements from drying out. The leaves of the rocket can also be chopped and dropped as a high-nutrient mulch around the base of larger elements, helping to build soil in areas that might be depleted.

[11], [12], [13]