Brassica rapa

A brief guide to sources for assignments related to Brassica rapa L., Wisconsin Fast Plants, et. al.

Quick Tips

Use Access Science, using the term Brassica rapa or the word turnip, for a brief article that gives some background on the plant. The citation form at the foot of the page will show how to cite the piece from the electronic encyclopedia.

Use AGRICOLA [hint: use DE "Brassica rapa"] and CAB [hint: use DE "Brassica campestris var. rapa"]brassica rapa l. photo by Neal Kramer to find articles related to the plant and what else you are interested in or experimenting with, such as fertilizer. You may have to generalize from the results of the articles to your own experiment.

Photo by Neal Kramer, CalFlora database, accessed September 15, 2012,

You may have to add terms, such as 'turnip', to get the correct Brassica form. If so, using (brassica rapa AND turnip) yields more results than brassica rapa L. or brassica rapa turnip; without the operator AND, the software is looking for the terms as a phrase.

Use the "Find It" button in the databases to help locate the items. Many of the journals are available online.

Cite your sources as you work, It is far easier to keep track if you record the information about your sources as you go. We offer Endnote Basic, and help in using it in the library. You can also use free citation managers like Zotero and Mendeley. The article below is an example of  an APA style citation-- though the style changes over time. Check the manual or online for more information.

Bradshaw, J. E., Gemmell, D. J., Gowers, S. and Wilson, R. N. (2002), Turnip (Brassica rapa L. ssp. rapifera Metzg.) population improvement and cultivar production. Plant Breeding, 121: 301–306. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0523.2002.737334.x


Brassica rapa L. --what is it?

Brassica rapa L. in its various forms may be used as food for people or feed to livestock as leaves, roots, and seeds. This plant is a crucifer, or cruciferous (for the four-lobed, cross-shaped appearance of the four-petaled flowers). It is a member of the same family but not the same species as cabbage, mustard, broccoli, and cauliflower, among others. One of its common names is field mustard.

It is sometimes grown in rotation as a cool season crop, as a green manure, or for grazing. It is also used for phytoremediation in some circumstances. The same vigorous habits that make it useful and easy to study in experiments can make it a difficult plant to control. It can become an invasive weed.

"Wisconsin Fast Plants" is a trade name for a set of varieties, developed specifically to provide plants that bloomed and made seed quickly for experiments.  They are also called "rapid cycle" or "rapid cycling" because they go from seed to plant to seed in about 40 days. This makes them useful for phytotoxicity studies, genetics studies, and for general science classes to demonstrate plant life cycles.

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