Brassica napes Napobrassica Group
Family: Brassicaceae
Common Name: Rutabaga

Known as rutabaga in the US, this vegetable, which is related to cabbages, cauliflowers and kales, is grown for its edible, succulent roots. The yellow or white rutabaga (from the Swedish rotabagge) became known as Swedish turnip, or swede. It is larger and sweeter than the turnip, more cold-tolerant, and more easily stored. While rutabaga and turnips are often considered lesser vegetables, they can be delicious if cooked correctly. Braised in a good stock and finished on top of the stove, rutabaga makes an excellent accompaniment to duck, beef or lamb. Alternatively, it can be steamed or baked, or added to stews.


The species itself is a native of Europe, but only cultivars are grown. There are several available and they will be listed in good seed catalogues. The flesh is generally yellow and the skin is buff and purple in colour.


Rutabaga is essentially a cool weather crop, grown throughout the winter in most areas. Seed is sown in late spring or early summer where plants are to grow, in drills 2 cm (¾ in) deep, the rows spaced 45 cm (18 in) apart. Thin the seedlings to 25-30 cm (10-12 in) apart.

Rutabaga reed well-drained soil that has been deeply dug and enriched with organic matter. They also require regular watering during the growing season. Band the rows with a complete fertilizer before sowing, and give regular applications of liquid fertilizer, to encourage vigorous growth. Hearts of swedes tend to discolour and brown if there is a deficiency of boron in the soil.

Ensure that the soil is kept at a steady level of moisture, as very dry soils further restrict the availability of boron. Use fertilizers which contain trace elements to help avoid this problem. Plants will mature in four to five months. Lift them and store in sand in a cool, dry place, or leave in the ground over winter, as frost is said to improve the flavor.


Zone 7.