Indian Mustard

Brassica juncea (L.) Czernj.

Synonyms -

Family: Brassicaceae


Brassica is the Latin name for Cabbage

Other Names:

Brown Mustard
Chinese Mustard
Leaf Mustard
Oriental Mustard
Trieste Mustard


An erect, lobed leaf, almost hairless annual mustard, 50-100 cm tall with pale yellow, 4 petal flowers and long squarish seed pods. The stem leaves have short petioles to distinguish it from similar Radish, Mustard and Turnips.



Two. Heart shaped. Sides convex. Tip indented. Base tapered to squarish. Hairless. Petiole longer than the blade.

First leaves:

Oval, edges toothed and lobed. Hairy on upper and lower surface. Scattered hairs on the petiole.


Alternate, and don't form a definite rosette.
Stipules - None
Petiole - Hairy. As long or shorter than the blade on lower leaves and short on the upper leaves.
Blade - Blue green with a whitish bloom. Up to 100 mm long x 60 mm wide. Lower ones have one or two pairs of irregular lobes and a larger oval terminal lobe and are sparsely hairy usually with simple, short, stiff hairs. Upper ones have no lobes and are hairless. Tip pointed. Base squarish to tapered.
Stem leaves - Shortly petiolate, not lobed and smaller than lower leaves and tend to turn upwards. Tip pointed. Base squarish to tapered. Surface hairless.


Erect with rather erect branches and somewhat blue green. Up to 1000 mm tall. Hairless.

Flower head:

Branched and at the top of the stem. Flat to convex corymb that elongates with age.


Yellow on slender spreading stalks (pedicels).
Ovary - Superior. sessile, 2 celled, cylindrical.
Stigma - Head like.
Sepals - 4 in 2 rings. Green, 4-5 mm long. Somewhat spreading. Sometimes with a few tiny hairs near the tip.
Petals - 4 in a single ring, alternate to sepals. Yellow, egg shaped, 7-9 mm long. Don't overlap.
Stamens - Yellow. 6 with 4 inner ones and 2 shorter side ones.
Anthers - Yellow. 2 celled.


Long pods up to 20-60 mm long x 2-4 mm wide with a beak up to 4-10 mm long. Square to slightly 4 angled in cross section. Constricted between the seed. Prominent veins on valves. Seeds attached to a thin membrane that divides the 2 compartments in the pod. Beak is 2-12 mm long or about a third the length of the pod and usually seedless, slender and tapering or conical with the tip narrower than the stigma on the end. 8-16 seeds per pod. Pod is somewhat erect, or upward bending, 8-17 mm long stalks.
Valves with a conspicuous mid vein and domed and swollen over the enclosed seed.
Cross walls (septa) is thin and indented from the seeds


Yellow to dull brown to black, globular, 1-2 mm diameter with a conspicuous black attachment scar (hilum). Surface hairless. Surface network (reticulum) is obvious with fine, smooth, sharp-edged lines surrounding the shallow, flat, pitted interspaces. (Other species of Mustard tend to have concave interspaces). Radicle is difficult to see.
Lutea variety has yellow seeds.



Key Characters:

Cotyledons conduplicate
Leaves not succulent.
Lower leaves sparsely hairy or glabrous and not forming a definite rosette
Upper leaves shortly petiolate
Stems sparsely hairy or glabrous
Hairs simple.
Ovary sessile or subsessile at the summit of the pedicel
Inflorescence elongating from a convex corymb
Petals pale yellow, not twisted, not long acuminate and less than twice as long as the sepals
Fruit a siliqua, at least 3 times longer than wide, longitudinally dehiscent, often angular or somewhat compressed with a strong central mid vein and faint side veins.
Fruit sessile or subsessile at the summit of the pedicel
Fruit beak narrower at the apex than at the stigma. Beak 4-12 mm long and about a third the length of the pod.
Seeds in 1 row per cell. Reticulate seeds have a flat and not concave interspace.
Adapted from John Black and B.L. Rye


Life cycle:

Annual. Seeds germinate from autumn to spring. Grows during the cooler months, flowers in spring and dies off in summer.


Drought tolerant (Hewson, 1976)


By seed.

Flowering times:

August to September in WA or spring.
Spring in Western NSW.
Summer in Victoria.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:



Possibly hybrid in origin.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed

Origin and History:

Native to Southern and Eastern Asia.



Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.





Plant Associations:



Food, fodder, oils, medicinal.
Used as a green manure crop in Asia.
Grown as an oilseed crop occasionally in Australia.
Grown for oil and medicinal uses in the southern USSR.


Weed of crops and disturbed areas.


Possibly toxic.



Remove stock from infestations if ill thrift observed.



Management and Control:

Ploughing normally provides effective control by killing plants and burying seeds too deep for establishment.
Hormone herbicides and sulfonylureas are also effective.


Probably similar to Wild Turnip with more than 10 plants/m2 worth spraying in cereals. In Canola, Indian Mustard has the potential to contaminate the seed and very high levels of control should be practiced.

Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for at least 5 years.
Deep plough the area if possible in autumn. Keep subsequent workings shallower to avoid bringing up buried seed.
Manually remove isolated plants.
Prevent seed set. Spray small infested areas with 10 g/ha Eclipse® plus 500mL/ha of Brodal® plus 1% spray oil in winter each year.
Most of the Brassicaceae weeds have dormant seeds that continue to germinate throughout the season and for several years. They often mature and set seed very quickly. Manual removal is effective but must be done at least every 8-10 weeks. Once pods are formed, seed will often mature even if the plant has been uprooted. Soil disturbance often leads to a flush of seedlings.
Many are somewhat unpalatable, so grazing only offers partial control. They often flourish in under-grazed, sunny areas.
In bushland situations, fairly selective control can be achieved with 100 mL spray oil plus 0.1 g Eclipse® or 0.5 g Logran® in 10 L water. 5 mL Brodal® is often added to this mix to provide residual control of seedlings. Spray the plants until just wet from the seedling stage up to pod formation.
Isolated plants should be removed manually and burnt if flowering or seeding and a 10 m buffer area sprayed with 10 mL Brodal® in 10 L water.
500 mL/ha of glyphosate(450g/L) can be used at flowering to reduce the seed set of most species on roadsides without causing significant damage to most native plants.
Wick application with 1 part glyphosate(450g/L) in 2 parts water or overall spraying with 100 mL glyphosate(450g/L) in 10 L water provides reasonable control of most Brassicaceae species though Wild Radish tends to regrow.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported, but it is expected to become tolerant to sulfonylurea herbicides after multiple applications.

Biological Control:

A range of endemic diseases and insects attack it which is probably the reason for its relatively low levels in Australia.

Related plants:

Flax-leaf Alyssum (Alyssum linifolium)
Wall Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Chinese Cabbage (Brassica chinensis)
Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Mediterranean Turnip (Brassica tournefortii)
Rape or Canola (Brassica napus var. napus)
Rapeseed (Brassica rapa var. sylvestris)
Savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda)
Smooth Stemmed Turnip (Brassica barrelieri subsp. oxyrrhina was Brassica oxyrrhina)
Swede (Brassica napus var. napobrassica)
Turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa)
Twiggy Turnip (Brassica fruticulosa)
Winter Rape (Brassica napus var. biennis)
Brassica elongata

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima)
White Ball Mustard (Calepina irregularis)
Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Common Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
Wood Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa) is not in WA.
Ward's Weed (Carrichtera annua)
Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis)
Sand Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia)
Heliophila pusilla
Oval Purse (Hornungia procumbens was Hymenobolus procumbens)

Argentine Peppercress (Lepidium bonariense) is often found around granite rocks.
Common Peppercress (Lepidium africanum) is common in WA.
Field Cress (Lepidium campestre) has clasping stem leaves.
Garden Cress (Lepidium sativa)
Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba was Cardaria draba)
Lesser Swinecress (Lepidium didymum was Coronopus didymus)
Matted Peppercress (Lepidium pubescens)
Perennial Peppercress (Lepidium latifolium)
Virginian Peppercress (Lepidium virginicum)
(Lepidium oxytrichum)
(Lepidium perfoliatum)

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Common Stock (Matthiola incana)
Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala)
Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) is not in WA.
Ball mustard (Neslia paniculata)

Cultivated Radish (Raphanus sativus).
Sea Radish (Raphanus maritimus).

Turnip Weed (Rapistrum rugosum)
Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)
White Mustard (Sinapis alba) has white seed.
Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)

Sisymbrium altissimum is not in WA.
Smooth Mustard (Sisymbrium erysimoides)
London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio)
Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
Indian Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium orientale)0
Sisymbrium runcinatum
African Turnip Weed (Sisymbrium thellungii) is not in WA.

Succowia balearica is in Kings Park in Perth.

Plants of similar appearance:

Wild Radish, Turnips and Mustards.
The native Brassicaceae species usually have short, broad and smooth pods.
Mediterranean Turnip (Brassica tournefortii) is very similar but the lower leaves are bristly, bordered with hairs, have a smaller terminal lobe and 5-10 pairs of basal-pointing side lobes. The beak of the pod is usually longer at 8-12 mm and is the same width as the stigma at its tip.


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