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Rocket (Eruca sativa L.)

Synonyms for Rocket

Jarjeer, Jarjir
BulgarianРукола, Рокет, Ерука
Rukola, Roket, Eruka
黃花南芥菜 [huáng huā nán jiè cài]
Huang hua nan jie cai
CroatianRiga, Rikula
CzechRoketa setá, Divoký salát, Perská hořčice rokovník, Rojovník, Bahenní rokyt, Rokytník skvělý, Rokyta
DanishSennepsalat, Misticanza, Arugula, Rucola
DutchRaket, Raketkruid, Rucolakers, Rucola
EnglishSalad Rocket, Arugula
GermanSalatrauke, Rauke, Rucola
Greek (Old)Εὔζωμον
Hebrewארוגולה, בן חרדל, רוקט
בֵּן חַרְדָּל, רוֹקֶט
Arogula, Ben hardal, Roket, Roqet
HungarianBorsmustár, Fehér mustár
ItalianRucola, Ruchetta
Japaneseルッコラ, ロケット, キバナスズシロ
Roketto, Rukkora, Kinaba-suzu-shiro
Korean겨자과, 로켓트, 로케트, 우루굴라
Gyeojagwa, Kyojagwa, Rokestu, Rokettu, Urugulla
LithuanianGražgarstė, Rukola
MalteseInsalata, Rucola
MongolianТаримал гүнжид
Tarimal günzhid
PortugueseRúcula, Eruca
RomanianArugula, Rucola, Voinicică
SerbianРига, Рукола
Riga, Rukola
SlovakRukola, Rukola šalát
SpanishRúcula, Oruga, Jaramago, Arrúgula, Roqueta
SwedishRucolasallat, Eruka
PolishRokieta siewna, Rukola
SlovenianNavadna rukvica
TurkishRoka, Cercer, Circir, Kekeş
VietnameseCải lông
Cai long
Yiddishעסעװדיקע כּמו־שאַלאַטן
Esevdike kemoy-shalatn
Synonyms for Wild Rocket (Sisymbrium officinale L. [Scop.])

botanicalChamaeplium officinale, Erysimum officinale
CatalanEríssim, Herba de cantors
DutchGewone raket
EnglishYellow julienne, Hedge (wild) mustard, Hedge weed
FrenchHerbe aux chantres
GermanWilde Rucola, Wegrauke
Hebrewתדרה רפואית
תֻּדְרָה רְפוּאִית
Tudrah refuit
SlovenianNavadni dihnik
TurkishÇalgıcı otu, İngiliz su teresi, Bülbülotu, Süpürgeotu, Yaban hargdalı

Sisymbrium officinale: Hedge mustard (weed) leaf
Wild rocket leaf
Eruca sativa: Arugula (Rucola) leaf
Rocket leaf
Eruca sativa: Rucola (arugula) flower
Rocket flower
Used plant part

Fresh leaves.

The seeds can serve as a sub­stitute for mustard seeds, but I haven’t heard that they are used in larger or even industrial scale.

Plant family

Brassicaceae (cabbage family)

Sensory quality

All rocket species have a distinct, pungent–aromatic flavour; the pungency increases with the age of the leaf. The aroma is often described as nutty, herbal or green; voices from people who dislike the herb speak about penetrating or petroleum-like.

Main constituents

The flavour of rocket leaves is dominated by iso­thiocyanates, as in related spices (e. g., cress or horseradish). The most im­portant com­pounds were found to be 4-Methylthio­butyl iso­thiocyanate and 5-Methylthio­pentyl iso­thiocyanate; similar ω-methylthio­alkyl iso­thiocyanates are found in wasabi.

Sisymbrium officinale: Wild arugula, flowers
Wild rocket, flowering plant
Sisymbrium officinale: Hedge mustard (hedge weed) flower
Wild rocket flower

Rocket is, how­ever, different from the related spices because the flavour is not entirely due to iso­thiocyanates, but also other compounds contribute significantly; most of these stem from the extensive sulfur metabolism of the Brassica­ceae. Besides C6 compounds (cis-3-hexen-1-ol and its butyric acid ester), some ω-methylthio compounds have been found (e. g., 5-methylthio­pentanoic nitrile). (J. Agr. Food Chem, 50, 4643, 2002)


The rocket species are native to Central and Southern Europe, but have also been spread to Northern America.


English rocket and its cognates in European languages (German Rauke or Italian rucola) can be traced back to Latin eruca, which means a type of cabbage. The English term arugula comes from the same source, but was probably borrowed from an Italian dialectal form.

Selected Links

Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Rauke ( via A Pinch of Arugula ( Pflanzen des Capitulare de Villis: Ölrauke ( Sorting Eruca names ( Sorting Sisymbrium names ( Rocket, Arugula

Eruca sativa: Rucola (arugula)
Rocket plants
The potent flavour of rocket became quite popular in a couple of European countries, and also in the USA. Although the herb had enjoyed considerable popularity all over temperate Europe in the Middle Ages (see also lovage about medieval herbs), both for the aromatic leaves and the pungent seeds, its cultivation was neglected afterwards, and since the century, rocket was practically restricted to the Mediterranean, where it grows wild. Now, rocket is back to Western and Central Europe.

In the last years, there was a constant trend to use more herbs in cooking, and every year new herbs become known and available. At present, rocket as well as basil, coriander and bear’s garlic (the latter only in Central Europe) have become symbols of good cooking that can hardly be ignored by any chef. It is a good principle to distrust the fluctuations of fashion, and the zeitgeist is no honest guide to good taste, but one cannot seriously doubt the culinary value of the said plants, even if they are often employed inadequately in stylish recipes. The same comments also hold for pumpkin seed oil.

Eruca sativa: Flowering salad rocket
Rocket plant with flowers.

The most typical use of rocket is as a flavouring for salads; it lends an interesting, spicy note to all kinds of lettuce, but I like it less for tomato salads. Chopped rocket leaves are a good garnish for many Mediterranean foods, but care must be taken that the rocket flavour does not dominate. Rocket leaves prepared with olive oil, aceto balsamico and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese makes an excellent appetizer for any Mediterranean, especially Italian, feast. In Turkey, rocket leaves are popular as a garnish for meats grilled on a skewer (kebap) or on a rotating spit (döner).

In its pungency, rocket reminds of the various cresses; but it has, in addition, a powerful flavour of its own which some people dislike, at least on first try. One can grow accustomed to this flavour by increasing the dosage from time to time. For those that abhor rocket, cress can be used as a milder alternative; but the opposite is also true, and those who like rocket will want to use it occasionally instead of cress, although this would be no good idea for fines herbes (see chives).

If heated (boiled or steamed), rocket quickly loses all pungency, but acquires a characteristic, rather subtle flavour that fits well to some kinds of tasty food, e. g., Italian pasta or risotto dishes. In such applications, however, one needs a lot of rocket to impart a noticeable flavour, and one should keep the heating period as short as possible.

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