Downey, Richard K. Agricultural Research Station, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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Brassica napus, a plant of the cabbage family. Rape (Brassica napus) [see illustration] and turnip rape (B. rapa or B. campestris), which are closely related, are members of the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) plant family [order Brassicales or Capparales]. The name rape is derived from the Latin rapum, meaning "turnip." The rape plant does not form a compact head, and the leaves are deeply lobed and curled. The aerial portions of rape plants have been bred to produce oilseeds, fodder, and vegetable crops. Rapeseed is small [2–5 g (0.07–0.18 oz) per 1000 seeds], round, and usually black, although varieties with yellow seed coats are also grown. The seeds, borne in long slender pods or siliques, contain more than 40% oil. The plant germinates rapidly and forms a rosette of bluish-green leaves, from which bolts an indeterminate racemose inflorescence. Both annual and biennial forms of the crop are grown; the biennial form will not flower without extended exposure to freezing temperatures. See also: Capparales; Inflorescence; Seed; Turnip
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