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October 2007
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Info: Armoracia rusticana ‘Variegata’

Common name of this plant is ‘variegated horseradish’. It needs the full sun and for its soil, it likes rich soil, not too dry.
Horseradish is a hardy perennial herb. Spreading with determination every year if left to its own devices, this herb reaches a height of one metre. The roots can grow to a meter in length. The leaves are large and long, almost paddle-shaped, growing 30-50cm. In the spring, heads of pretty, small white flowers with a sweet honey scent develop. Seed pods however rarely ripen in our climate. In cold parts of the country, flowers often fail to develop.
This very striking plant does not like to be disturbed. This great kitchen condiment gets a striking face-lift. White variegated foliage is a very nice contrast to the usual green. Roots can be used as a spicy condiment like the all green version. The 18-in long, wavy, crepe paper like leaves develop striking patterns of cream splashed on dark green– but not right away. It may take two or three years for it to become completely variegated, and then only if it’s left undisturbed. If you move it, you’ll have to start your wait all over again.
All of the plant, especially the roots, contain strong-smelling volatile mustard oils and is popular in sauces and is said to aid digestion; this helps especially if eaten with rich foods, such as roast beef and oily fish which are difficult to digest.
Not only can this plant spread, its roots grow to at least 60cm. A mature plant may have to be divided or removed with an axe or saw; so care and consideration is needed when adding this herb to the garden. It may be advisable to plant in an old dustbin, with holes in the bottom, to retain the spread of the roots. Sink the bin into the ground and apply well-rotted manure or compost around the plant in the spring. It doesn’t not spread aggressively, but instead, forms polite clumps gradually growing to 3 ft. across. Once the variegation does get going, the splotches and speckles are most pronounced in early spring.

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