Flowering Arugula

Arugula is pungently peppery and well matched to milder salad greens and endive. Certainly, you can serve juvenile arugula on its own.

Arugula flowers bring the same peppery dash to a salad and some wonderful color as well. Arugula flowers are white pinwheels with burgundy center stripes and veins.

You can use arugula flowers as a salad or soup garnish. You can even mix them half and half with spring mesclun for a zesty side salad.

Arugula is sometimes called rocket, maybe because it grows from seed to maturity so quickly. It’s a cool-weather green. You can sow it in late summer, cut several leaves in the fall, and let the plant sit through the winter—even under the snow. In the spring, the plant will take off and bolt—or set flowers.

The arugula flowers you see at the farm market this spring got their start last fall.

Arugula leaves grow in a ground-hugging rosette. From seed, arugula leaves are ready for harvest in 40 days. Successively plant arugula every two weeks and you will be set for the season. It’s best to be done with your arugula when the summer heat arrives.

Arugula leaves are best still young. As they mature they grow more piquant and if left in the garden too long will become down right hot. As the plant matures it sends up a sparsely branched stem with insignificant leaves that culminate in the flower. The mature arugula with its flowers aloft stands from 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm) tall.

Besides the leaves and flowers you can even snip up the stalk and add them to a salad as well.

You can match young arugula sowed in spring with autumn’s arugula in flower–to garnish a classic Provençal mesclun salad of baby lettuce, endive, arugula, and chervil leaves.

The botanical name for arugula is Eruca sativa.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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