The Full Wiki

Turnip: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


Small turnip root
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. rapa
Subspecies: B. r. rapa
Trinomial name
Brassica rapa rapa
For similar vegetables also called "turnip", see Turnip (disambiguation).

The turnip or white turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa) is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock.



The most common type of turnip is mostly white-skinned apart from the upper 1–6 centimeters, which protrude above the ground and are purple, red, or greenish wherever sunlight has fallen. This above-ground part develops from stem tissue, but is fused with the root. The interior flesh is entirely white. The entire root is roughly conical, but can be occasionally tomato-shaped, about 5–20 centimeters in diameter, and lacks side roots. The taproot (the normal root below the swollen storage root) is thin and 10 centimeters or more in length; it is trimmed off before marketing. The leaves grow directly from the above-ground shoulder of the root, with little or no visible crown or neck (as found in rutabagas).

Turnip leaves are sometimes eaten as "turnip greens" ("turnip tops" in the UK), and they resemble mustard greens in flavor. Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern US cooking, primarily during late fall and winter. Smaller leaves are preferred; however, any bitter taste of larger leaves can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water. Varieties specifically grown for the leaves resemble mustard greens more than those grown for the roots, with small or no storage roots. Varieties of B. rapa that have been developed only for use as leaves are called Chinese cabbage. Both leaves and root have a pungent flavor similar to raw cabbage or radishes that becomes mild after cooking.

Turnip roots weigh up to about 1 kilogram, although they can be harvested when smaller. Size is partly a function of variety and partly a function of the length of time that the turnip has grown. Most very small turnips (also called baby turnips) are specialty varieties. These are only available when freshly harvested and do not keep well. Most baby turnips can be eaten whole, including their leaves. Baby turnips come in yellow-, orange-, and red-fleshed varieties as well as white-fleshed. Their flavor is mild, so they can be eaten raw in salads like radishes.


Turnip greens
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 20 kcal   80 kJ
Carbohydrates     4.4 g
- Dietary fiber  3.5 g  
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 1.1 g
Vitamin A equiv.  381 μg  42%
Folate (Vit. B9)  118 μg  30%
Vitamin C  27 mg 45%
Vitamin K  368 μg 350%
Calcium  137 mg 14%
cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Percentages are relative to US
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Turnips are high only in Vitamin C. On the other hand, turnip greens are a good source of Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and calcium. Turnip greens are high in lutein (8.4 mg / 100g).


The turnip was a well-established crop in Hellenistic and Roman times, which leads to the assumption that it was brought into cultivation earlier. But Zohary and Hopf note that "there are almost no archeological records available" to help determine its earlier history and domestication. Wild forms of the hot turnip and its relatives the mustards and radish are found over west Asia and Europe, suggesting that their domestication took place somewhere in that area. However Zohary and Hopf conclude, "Suggestions as to the origins of these plants are necessarily based on linguistic considerations."[1]


The 1881 Household Cyclopedia gives these instructions for field cultivation of turnips:

The benefits derived from turnip husbandry are of great magnitude; light soils are cultivated with profit and facility; abundance of food is provided for man and beast; the earth is turned to the uses for which it is physically calculated, and by being suitably cleaned with this preparatory crop, a bed is provided for grass seeds, wherein they flourish and prosper with greater vigor than after any other preparation.

The first ploughing is given immediately after harvest, or as soon as the wheat seed is finished, either in length or across the field, as circumstances may seem to require. In this state the ground remains till the oat seed is finished, when a second ploughing is given to it, usually in a contrary direction to the first. It is then repeatedly harrowed, often rolled between the harrowings and every particle of root-weeds carefully picked off with the hand; a third ploughing is then bestowed, and the other operations are repeated. In this stage, if the ground has not been very foul, the seed process.

The next part of the process is the sowing of the seed; this may be performed by drilling machines of different sizes and constructions, through all acting on the same principle. A machine drawn by a horse in a pair of shafts, sows two drills at a time and answers extremely well, where the ground is flat, and the drills properly made up. The weight of the machine ensures a regularity of sowing hardly to be gained by those of a different size and construction. From two to three pounds of seed are sown upon the acre (2 to 3 kg/hectare), though the smallest of these quantities will give many more plants in ordinary seasons than are necessary; but as the seed is not an expensive article the greater part of farmers incline to sow thick, which both provides against the danger of part of the seed perishing, and gives the young plants an advantage at the outset.

Turnips are sown from the beginning to the end of June, but the second and third weeks of the month are, by judicious farmers, accounted the most proper time. Some people have sown as early as May, and with advantage, but these early fields are apt to run to seed before winter, especially if the autumn be favorable to vegetation. As a general rule it may be laid down that the earliest sowings should be on the latest soils; plants on such soils are often long before they make any great progress, and, in the end, may be far behind those in other situations, which were much later sown. The hot turnip plant, indeed, does not thrive rapidly till its roots reach the dung, and the previous nourishment afforded them is often so scanty as to stunt them altogether before they get so far.

The first thing to be done in this process is to run a horse-hoe, called a scraper, along the intervals, keeping at such a distance from the young plants that they shall not be injured; this operation destroys all the annual weeds which have sprung up, and leaves the plants standing in regular stripes or rows. The hand hoeing then commences, by which the turnips are all singled out at a distance of from 8-12 inches, and the redundant ones drawn into the spaces between the rows. The singling out of the young plants is an operation of great importance, for an error committed in this process can hardly be afterward rectified. Boys and girls are always employed as hoers; but a steady and trusty man-servant is usually set over them to see that the work is properly executed.

In eight or ten days, or such a length of time as circumstances may require, a horse-hoe of a different construction from the scraper is used. This, in fact, is generally a small plough, of the same kind with that commonly wrought, but of smaller dimensions. By this implement, the earth is pared away from the sides of the drills, and a sort of new ridge formed in the middle of the former interval. The hand-hoers are again set to work, and every weed and superfluous turnip is cut up; afterward the horse-hoe is employed to separate the earth, which it formerly threw into the furrows, and lay it back to the sides of the drills. On dry lands this is done by the scraper, but where the least tendency to moisture prevails, the small plough is used, in order that the furrows may be perfectly cleaned out. This latter mode, indeed, is very generally practiced.

Human use

and Turnip output in 2005]]

Pliny the Elder writes that he considered the turnip one of the most important vegetables of his day, rating it "directly after cereals or at all events after the bean, since its utility surpasses that of any other plant." Pliny praises it as a source of fodder for farm animals, and this vegetable is not particular about the type of soil it grows in and because it can be left in the ground until the next harvest, it "prevents the effects of famine" for humans (N.H. 18.34).

In Turkey, particularly in the area near Adana, turnips are used to flavor ┼čalgam, a juice made from purple carrots and spices served ice cold.

The Macomber turnip is featured in one of the very few historic markers for a vegetable, on Main Road in Westport, Massachusetts.

Turnip lanterns are an old tradition; see Jack o' Lantern for their association with Halloween. Laurie Lee, in "The Edge of Day", an autobiography of a childhood in the Cotswolds, mentions the Parochial Church Tea and Annual Entertainment, which took place around Twelfth night. "We...saw his red face lit like a hot turnip lamp as he crouched to stoke up the flames."


The turnip is an old vegetable charge in heraldry. It was used by Leonhard von Keutschach, prince-archbishop of Salzburg. The turnip is still the heart shield in the arms of Keutschach am See.

Cultural references

The acquisition of turnips was the only ambition of Baldrick, a protagonist of the popular sitcom Blackadder (portrayed by actor Tony Robinson).

A Turnip is a coloquial term for an old fashioned oversized pocket watch.


  1. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 139

See also

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Turnip article)

From Wikisource

The Turnip
by Brothers Grimm
From Grimm's Fairy Tales.

There were two brothers who were both soldiers; the one was rich and the other poor. The poor man thought he would try to better himself; so, pulling off his red coat, he became a gardener, and dug his ground well, and sowed turnips.

When the seed came up, there was one plant bigger than all the rest; and it kept getting larger and larger, and seemed as if it would never cease growing; so that it might have been called the prince of turnips for there never was such a one seen before, and never will again. At last it was so big that it filled a cart, and two oxen could hardly draw it; and the gardener knew not what in the world to do with it, nor whether it would be a blessing or a curse to him. One day he said to himself, 'What shall I do with it? if I sell it, it will bring no more than another; and for eating, the little turnips are better than this; the best thing perhaps is to carry it and give it to the king as a mark of respect.'

Then he yoked his oxen, and drew the turnip to the court, and gave it to the king. 'What a wonderful thing!' said the king; 'I have seen many strange things, but such a monster as this I never saw. Where did you get the seed? or is it only your good luck? If so, you are a true child of fortune.' 'Ah, no!' answered the gardener, 'I am no child of fortune; I am a poor soldier, who never could get enough to live upon; so I laid aside my red coat, and set to work, tilling the ground. I have a brother, who is rich, and your majesty knows him well, and all the world knows him; but because I am poor, everybody forgets me.'

The king then took pity on him, and said, 'You shall be poor no longer. I will give you so much that you shall be even richer than your brother.' Then he gave him gold and lands and flocks, and made him so rich that his brother's fortune could not at all be compared with his.

When the brother heard of all this, and how a turnip had made the gardener so rich, he envied him sorely, and bethought himself how he could contrive to get the same good fortune for himself. However, he determined to manage more cleverly than his brother, and got together a rich present of gold and fine horses for the king; and thought he must have a much larger gift in return; for if his brother had received so much for only a turnip, what must his present be wroth?

The king took the gift very graciously, and said he knew not what to give in return more valuable and wonderful than the great turnip; so the soldier was forced to put it into a cart, and drag it home with him. When he reached home, he knew not upon whom to vent his rage and spite; and at length wicked thoughts came into his head, and he resolved to kill his brother.

So he hired some villains to murder him; and having shown them where to lie in ambush, he went to his brother, and said, 'Dear brother, I have found a hidden treasure; let us go and dig it up, and share it between us.' The other had no suspicions of his roguery: so they went out together, and as they were travelling along, the murderers rushed out upon him, bound him, and were going to hang him on a tree.

But whilst they were getting all ready, they heard the trampling of a horse at a distance, which so frightened them that they pushed their prisoner neck and shoulders together into a sack, and swung him up by a cord to the tree, where they left him dangling, and ran away. Meantime he worked and worked away, till he made a hole large enough to put out his head.

When the horseman came up, he proved to be a student, a merry fellow, who was journeying along on his nag, and singing as he went. As soon as the man in the sack saw him passing under the tree, he cried out, 'Good morning! good morning to thee, my friend!' The student looked about everywhere; and seeing no one, and not knowing where the voice came from, cried out, 'Who calls me?'

Then the man in the tree answered, 'Lift up thine eyes, for behold here I sit in the sack of wisdom; here have I, in a short time, learned great and wondrous things. Compared to this seat, all the learning of the schools is as empty air. A little longer, and I shall know all that man can know, and shall come forth wiser than the wisest of mankind. Here I discern the signs and motions of the heavens and the stars; the laws that control the winds; the number of the sands on the seashore; the healing of the sick; the virtues of all simples, of birds, and of precious stones. Wert thou but once here, my friend, though wouldst feel and own the power of knowledge.

The student listened to all this and wondered much; at last he said, 'Blessed be the day and hour when I found you; cannot you contrive to let me into the sack for a little while?' Then the other answered, as if very unwillingly, 'A little space I may allow thee to sit here, if thou wilt reward me well and entreat me kindly; but thou must tarry yet an hour below, till I have learnt some little matters that are yet unknown to me.'

So the student sat himself down and waited a while; but the time hung heavy upon him, and he begged earnestly that he might ascend forthwith, for his thirst for knowledge was great. Then the other pretended to give way, and said, 'Thou must let the sack of wisdom descend, by untying yonder cord, and then thou shalt enter.' So the student let him down, opened the sack, and set him free. 'Now then,' cried he, 'let me ascend quickly.' As he began to put himself into the sack heels first, 'Wait a while,' said the gardener, 'that is not the way.' Then he pushed him in head first, tied up the sack, and soon swung up the searcher after wisdom dangling in the air. 'How is it with thee, friend?' said he, 'dost thou not feel that wisdom comes unto thee? Rest there in peace, till thou art a wiser man than thou wert.'

So saying, he trotted off on the student's nag, and left the poor fellow to gather wisdom till somebody should come and let him down.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

'TURNIP,' Brassica campestris, var. Rapa, a hardy biennial, found in cornfields in various parts of England. It has been cultivated from a remote period for its fleshy roots. The tender growing tops are also used in spring as a green vegetable. The so-called "root" is formed by the thickening of the primary root of the seedling together with the base of the young stem (hypocotyl) immediately above it. The great mass of the "root" consists of soft "wood" developed internally by the cambium layer and composed mainly of thin-walled, unlignified, wood-parenchyma. The stem remains short during the first year, the leaves forming a rosette-like bunch at the top of the "bulb"; they are grass-green and bear rough hairs. In the second season the bud in the centre of the rosette forms a strong erect branched stem bearing somewhat glaucous smooth leaves. The stem and branches end in corymbose racemes of small, bright yellow flowers, which are succeeded by smooth, elongated, short-beaked pods.

The varieties of turnip are classified according to their shape as (1) long varieties, with a root three or more times as long as broad; (2) tankard or spindle-shaped varieties, with a root about twice as long as broad; (3) round or globe varieties with an almost spherical root; (4) flat varieties with a root broader than long; there are also many intermediate forms. Turnips are also grouped according to the colour of the upper part of the root which comes above ground, and according to the colour of the flesh, which is white or yellow. The yellow-fleshed varieties, many of which are probably hybrids between the turnip and swede, are more robust, of slower growth and superior feeding value to the white-fleshed turnips, and are less injured by frost.

The swede-turnip, Brassica campestris, var. Napo-brassica, differs from the turnip proper in having the first foliage-leaves glaucous, not grass-green, in colour, and the later leaves smooth and glaucous; the root bears a distinct neck with well-marked leaf-scars, the flesh is yellow or reddish-orange, firmer and more nutritious, and the roots keep much better during winter. The flowers are larger and buff-yellow or pale orange in colour and the seeds are usually larger and darker than in the turnip.

Turnips should be grown in a rich friable sandy loam, such as will produce medium-sized roots without much aid from the manure heap, and are better flavoured if grown in fresh soil. In light dry soils well decomposed hotbed or farmyard manure is the best that can be used, but in soils containing an excess of organic matter, bone dust, superphosphate of lime, wood-ashes or guano, mixed with light soil, and laid in the drills before sowing the seed, are beneficial by stimulating the young plants to get quickly into rough leaf, and thus to grow out of reach of the so-called turnip fly or turnip flea (Phyllotreta). To get rid of this pest, it has been found beneficial to dust the plants with quicklime, and also to draw over the young plants nets smeared with some sticky substance like treacle, by which large numbers will be caught and destroyed. It has been also recommended as a palliative to sow thick in order to allow for a percentage of loss from this and other causes, but this is inadvisable, as overcrowding is apt to render the plants weak. As a preventive, gas-lime may be scattered over the surface after the seed has been sown. Lime is also effective against the disease known as "finger and toe" (q.v.).

The first sowing should be made on a warm border, with the protection of a frame or matted hoops, in January or February; the second on a well-sheltered border in March, after which a sowing once a month will generally suffice. In May and June the plot should be in a cool moderately shaded position, lest the plants should suffer from drought. The principal autumn and winter sowings, which are the most important, should be made about the end of June in the northern districts, and in the beginning of July in warmer districts; a small sowing may be made at the end of August to come in before the spring-sown crops are ready. If the weather is showery at the time of sowing, the seed speedily germinates, and the young plants should be kept growing quickly by watering with rain or pond water and by surface stirrings. The drills for the earliest sorts need not be more than 15 in. apart, and the plants may be left moderately thick in the row; the late crops should have at least 2 ft. between the rows, and be thinned to 12 in. in the row, a free circulation of air about them being very important in winter. As a provision against prolonged periods of severe weather it has been recommended to lay the finest roots in rows, covering them well with soil, and leaving intact the whole of the foliage. The very latest sown crops of half-grown roots will prolong the supply until the earliest spring-sown crops are fit for use.

<< Turnhout

Turnpike >>

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address