the 'Russian hairless' radish

digit(ID/WA)September 26, 2007

I'm not sure if this is an Asian radish but I think so. I purchased seed for this round, white radish from an "International Seed Company" in Rhode Island nearly 20 years ago. The seed company apparently went out of business within a few years.

The radish is somewhat unique in that it has "hairless" leaves. The catalog advised that the entire plant could be cooked and eaten.

We have done that but usually just eat the roots raw in salads. They are very good and it is nice to have a multi-purpose radish. I found another use for the plants today when I was checking out the seed pods - they are tender and very tasty and very green!

The problem?? I've grown and saved this radish seed for nearly 20 years. This year, I harvested the first planting entirely and replanted late. IÂm not sure if these plants will mature seeds. We've had really good luck with frost this year but with 2 light frosts now and snow in the forecast for next week (!!), the growing season is likely to come to a screeching halt.

In a way, it has gotten a little silly relying on my seed-saving. Surely, this smooth-leaf, white, round radish is commercially available somewhere.

I can no longer remember the name from that long-ago catalog. We just call it the "Russian radish." On the internet, I have found a couple of long Chinese radishes with smooth leaves but not a round one.

Does anyone know anything about this variety and the availability of seed?


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After 6 weeks, I'm going to boot this off the top of the forum. The radish plants were able to mature some seed even after repeated frosts!

When harder frosts finally arrived in mid-October (quite late this year) the plants had done a bit more growing. Fortunately, overnight temperatures did not fall to low-20's until about a week ago. They are still alive out there and I wouldn't be surprised if they can continue to "pump" a little more nutrients into those seeds . . . of course, the flowers have been burnt right off the plants and the foliage is a little damaged.

If anyone comes across info on a radish like this, I'll still be interested. Researched some more myself and still have not found anything. I believe that the round Chinese radishes may be quite similar.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 11:59AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Interesting... I've searched for a similar description in the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, and come up empty. During a visit to their farm in 2006, I saw a "White Russian" that had very fat seed pods; but I didn't notice whether the leaves were hairy or smooth. Just have to grow it, I guess.

I'll contact you privately regarding the possibility of a trade, this radish sounds interesting. It would seem to me that the smooth leaves would be more susceptible to insects than the hairy types; did this appear to be the case? Did you eat the leaves, and if so, could you describe them?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 5:06PM
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Hi Chris,

Should have tried Burpee's Salad Rose by now, huh? Too darn expensive, that seed company is. Their Burpee White might even be the one I'm looking for but don't know why they wouldn't say something about hairless, if it is.

Grew the "giants" this year - crimson and German. Both very good if harvested early. During clean-up last week there were a few out there the size of grapefruits. Could get in a habit of saving seed from these different radishes but need to give it some conscious thought to do it right - you know what I mean . . .

Planted the seed crop so late, for awhile all I thought I'd get were green pods. The ones from my Russians aren't what I'd call "fat" and I suppose they are even kind of tiny but very tender and mild. The leaves are pretty good - very similar to broad-leaf mustard.

Flea beetles are the great enemies here. They don't seem to be deterred by hair. The Russians in the picture were planted so late they missed most of the flea beetle activity. You can see that they are generally unmarked.

I see that Seed Savers offers a "Philadelphia White Box" radish. Not sure what that might mean.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 7:49PM
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Need to hasten to add that I also grew White Hailstone this year - - not up to the Russian standard.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 7:55PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

Radish seed is viable for many years. I have planted seed that is more than 5 years old and had fine germination.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 4:06PM
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Chervil2, the last time I grew these for seed was a few years ago. I had only a little to start in 2007.

I'm curious if radishes are self-pollinating. There's a turf grass seed company not too far away. They grew an acre or so of various radishes one year. I don't recall any effort to separate the varieties and there were more than one or 2 because the plants had different appearances in bands thru the field.

Honestly, I don't know what the farm was up to - just recognized that they were radishes. I save seed for an Asian mustard and these Russian radishes. That is my only experience with the brassicas but if I grew the German Giants, as well - would the radishes cross?


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 7:53PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Did you look at the radishes offered by Evergreen Seeds? They have 5 varieties listed as leaf radishes. The variety China Express, although not a leaf variety, is said to have "smooth spoon shaped leaves and can be grown densely for obtaining a high yield." Which means a high yield of leaves as I understand it. Shogoin is a very large round white radish.


Here is a link that might be useful: Evergreen Seeds

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 11:30PM
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Thanks Jim,

This doesn't have an elongated root like China Express. Evergreen says Shogoin Globe is 7-8 inches in diameter but this one doesn't get anywhere near that large.

I looked at Kitazawa and AgroHaitai. IÂve wondered if it is AgroHaitai's White Ball but they say nothing about the leaves of any of their varieties.

I've a strong suspicion that there's a common OP variety out there and it is this one. And, it is a good thing to see that there are those who appreciate radishes as a leafy green. That makes a great deal of sense to me.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 8:00PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The appreciation of radishes in general on this board (the vegetable forum included) is interesting to me. I've always liked radishes and my interest in them has grown to where I now crave them and grow various types.

On a whim, I threw radish leaves into some soup and now consider radish greens one of the best for that purpose. Even in a salad of mixed greens I didn't find the hairy leaves really objectionable, although smooth probably would be preferable.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 1:27PM
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I'm always much more interested in eating vegetables cooked than raw. Perhaps, I should say leafy greens. I'm not much of a salad-eater. If one would just toss that salad into a hot pan - maybe with just a little vegetable broth and cornstarch added to a couple spoonfuls of deconstructed salad dressing . . .

There are lots of greens that are good in soup - kale, mustard, spinach, broccoli raab, etc. In a few days, that left-over turkey will look much more appetizing if there's about a pound of greens in the turkey soup.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 11:21PM
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