Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) :: Botany

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) The mustard plant has often been mentioned in the Bible, and most of us are familiar with Jesus' parable of the mustard seed. However, there is great debate as to what the "mustard" plant of Jesus' parable really was. Most modern commentators agree that it was the ordinary black mustard, Brassica nigra, but there are still a few who disagree. These others suggested that the mustard in the Bible could have been Salvadora persica, a shrub found in thickets around the Dead Sea, but authorities say that this plant did not grow where Jesus spoke his parables. Also Phytolacca decandra, the pokeberry, was theorized to be the "mustard tree". That too was discounted because it is now regarded as an American plant. One major argument against Brassica for the "mustard" of the Bible is based on the Biblical statements concerning its becoming a "tree", and "the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it". Supporters of this argument claim that the mustard plant never becomes a great tree, and it would not be sturdy enough for birds to nest. In rebuttal, it has been pointed out that we must realize that much of the language in the Bible is figurative, and that indeed small sparrow-like birds perched temporarily on the branches of the mature mustard plant to feed on its seeds. Even today birds are very fond of mustard seed. Guatama Buddha also told a parable about the mustard seed, and in India, mustard is the symbol of reproductive generation. Mustard is a very interesting plant with a lot of history and many uses. It has both medicinal and culinary value useful to man in the past and present. Its many relatives are ever present in our daily lives as well. Black mustard is scientifically known as Brassica nigra. It is of the family Cruciferae. The plant is native of Europe and Asia; it has become naturalized in this country and has escaped from cultivation, so that it is often a troublesome weed. Therefore, it is often found on the roadside, in vacant lots, and especially in grain fields. There has been some success in the use of chemical herbicides in ridding grain fields of mustard. These include iron sulfate and sulfuric acid in the form of a spray. All grasses are resistant to this spray, but the young mustards are killed by it.

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