Abyssinian Kale (Crambe abyssinica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Abyssinian Kale
Crambe abyssinica

The oil from the seed contains erucic acid. It is used for lighting and making plastics[160]. The seed oil is one of the richest known sources of erucic acid and crambe appears to be a better potential domestic crop than rapeseed[269]. It is the cheapest source of erucic acid, which performs better than any known material as a mold lubricant in continuous steel casting[269]. It is also in demand for making ‘Nylon 1313’, a tough form of nylon used for moulded plastic, for articles as bearings and heavy fibres in brushes, as an additive in plastic films to prevent sheets from sticking together, in plasticizers to keep them soft and flexible[269].

Yields vary widely from 1,125-1,624 kg/ha in Russia and 450-2,522 kg/ha in the United States, with yields highest in weed-free fields. In irrigated fields with additional nitrogen, yields up to 5 tonnes per hectare have been attained[269]. As crambe is a new crop, only limited data are available. However, yield figures and specific demand for the oil indicate crambe is a potential oilseed crop of good economic value. In 1972, about 700 hectares were cultivated, mainly in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Many countries in Europe are also experimenting with crambe as a possible new crop[269]. The first-formed seedpods remain on the plant until the last pods are formed, thus making it easy to harvest the full crop without loss[269].

Crambe meal, made from the seed residues after the oil has been removed, is used as plywood and rubber adhesive, as a source of protein isolates, and as an additive to waxes[269].

ARTUS, NANCY* and JEN LEASA. Biology Department, West Chester University, West Chester, PA 19383. – Effect of arsenate treatment on growth and arsenic accumulation in four high-biomass members of the Brassicaceae.

Phytoremediation may serve as a cost-effective means to reduce the levels of toxic elements in contaminated soils. The ability of four members of the Brassicaceae, Brassica juncea, Brassica carinata, Brassica nigra and Crambe abyssinca, to tolerate and accumulate arsenic was examined. Plants grown hydroponically were treated with 10 or 20 mg/ L arsenate for two weeks. Plant growth, development of toxicity symptoms and tissue levels of arsenic were examined. All four species exhibited a reduction in growth relative to controls when treated with 20 mg/L As, but lacked severe toxicity symptoms. Arsenic accumulation in leaves ranged from 15+0.5 mg/dry g (B. carinata) to 82+28 mg/dry g (C. abyssinica) after a two-week treatment with 10 ppm arsenate. C. abyssinica shows the greatest potential for use in the phytoremediation of arsenic.

Key words: arsenic, Brassica, Brassicaceae, Crambe abyssinica, phytoremediation

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow March/April in a seedbed outdoors and either thin the plants out or move them to their permanent positions when about 10cm tall[111]. The young plants are very attractive to slugs so some protection will often be needed. Germination can be slow so it is best to sow the seed in pots in a cold frame[164]. Germination usually takes place in 3 – 26 weeks at 15¡c[164]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions when they are at least 10cm tall. Division in spring or autumn[1, 111]. Dig up the root clump and cut off as many sections as you require, making sure they all have at least one growing point. The larger of these divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, though small ones are best potted up and grown on in a cold frame until they are established. Root cuttings, 3 – 10 cm long, in spring[104]. These can be planted straight into the open ground or you can pot them up in the greenhouse and plant them out once they are growing strongly.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. The plant has a short growing season of from 90 – 100 days[160]. The plant does best on medium-light to heavy soils that are fertile and well drained, though poor sandy soils may be used if nutrients are provided[269]. Crambe is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 35 to 120cm, an average annual temperature range of 5.7 to 16.2¡C and a pH in the range of 5.0 to 7.8[269]. A cool season crop, it is well-adapted as a spring crop in wheat-growing areas of the Pacific north-western United States. A spring and fall crop can be grown, e.g. in Indiana. Grown as far south as Venezuela and as far north as Sweden and Leningrad. In the seedling stage, it survives temperatures down to -5¡C. It fares poorly where weeds are a problem.
N. Africa to Turkey.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.