Characteristics and economic importance of Cruciferace (Brassicaceae)

  • This family is commonly known as mustard family and following are the characteristics of mustard plant.
  • The plants are terrestrial and cultivated for oil value which is normally pungent smelling watery sap.
  • They are generally annual herbs with tap root system that may be branched.
  • Stem is erect and divided into nodes and internodes, herbaceous, cylindrical, slightly hairy, and green with a pungent smelling juice.
  • Leaves are alternate, exstipulate, simple, radical and cauline. The lower leaves are petiolate and lyrate while upper leaves are glabrous, sessile and entire with acute apex and unicostate reticulate venation.
  • Inflorescence is either raceme or corymb.
  • Flowers are bisexual, hypogynous and tetramerous. They are ebracteate, ebracteolate, pedicillate, actinomorphic, complete. Flowers are yellow in color with the nectaries at the base.
  • Calyx is polysepalous. Sepals are 4 in number; arranged in two whorls, 2 outer and 2 inner. They are imbricate, green in color and petaloid.
  • Corolla is polypetalous (with 4 petals). Petals are yellow in color, valvate, unguiculate (clawed) and cruciform (cross like).
  • Androecium: Stamens are 6 in number, tetradynamous (2 outer short and 4 inner long), polyandrous and arranged in two whorls. At the base of each stamen is present a green nectary gland. They are basifixed, dithecous and introse.
  • Gynoecium: There are two carpels (bicarpellary) and syncarpous. Ovary is superior, unilocular but later on becomes bilocular due to the development of a false septum called Placentation is parietal. The style is short and stigma bilobed.
  • Fruit is either siliqua or silicula.
  • Floral diagram with floral formula (mustard):

Important plants of the family:

  1. Brassica campestris (mustard)
  2. Brassica oleracea botrytis (cauliflower)
  3. Brassica oleracea capitata (cabbage)
  4. Raphanus sativus (radish)
  5. Cherianthus cheiri (wall flower)

Economic importance:

  • As vegetables: Few plants like radish, cauliflower, cabbage etc. are used as vegetables.
  • As a source of oil: Oil is extracted from mustard seeds, which is used for cooking.
  • Brassica nigra (black mustard) and Brassica hirta (white mustard) are used in pickles.
  • Leaves and stem of the vegetable yielding plants are used as fodder.
  • Rorippa indica has properties to cure asthma.
  • The extract of Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s purse) has the property of controlling haemorrhage.
  • The leaves of Lepidium sativum (chamsoor) are used against syphilis.
  • Iberis amara (candy tuft) is grown as an ornamental plant.

Characteristics and economic importance of Cruciferace (Brassicaceae)