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khubakalam - Sisymbrium irio

khubakalam :

Sisymbrium irio Sisymbrium irio, known as London rocket, is a plant in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual herb exceeding three feet in height with open, slender stem branches. The flowers are small with four pale yellow petals. The basal leaves are broad and often lobed, while the upper leaves are linear in shape and up to four inches long. The fruit is a long narrow cylindrical silique which stays green when ripe. The younger pods overtop the flowers. When dried the fruit has small red oblong seeds. The common name "London rocket" allegedly comes from its abundance after the Great Fire of London in 1666. However, Dr E J Salisbury, in his study of the bombsites of London after the Great Fire of 1940, "failed to find a single specimen, nor has any other reliable observer reported it", according to R. S. R. Fitter.


S. irio seems to have appeared in both North America and Australia in the early 1900s, but how it reached either place remains unknown (Robbins, 1940; Wilken and Hannah 1998; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2013). Possible pathways include its deliberate introduction as a herb, or accidental introduction as a contaminant of crop seed. 

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Cruciferae
Genus: Sisymbrium
Species: Sisymbrium irio

Allied species:

Norta irio


Sanskrit: khakasi, khubakala •
English: hedge-mustard , London Rocket •
Hindi: khubkaln, asalio, khubkhala •
Urdu: khubakalan
Telugu: Jeevakamu
Marathi: Ranteekhee
Punjabi: Janglisarson, Maktrusa, Maktaroosaa
Arabic: Khubba
Spanish: Mostaza, Pamita
Persian: Khakasi, Khakshi


The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.


It first came to prominence as an invasive species, and gained its common name ‘London rocket’ when it became abundant after the Great Fire of London in 1666 (Clapham et al., 1952)


Synonyms in Ayurveda: khubakalam

Sarshapabhasa - its effects are quite similar to benefits of mustard
Rasa: Katu
Guna: Guru Picchila Snigdha
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Kaphahara Sodhahara Vatahara

The leaves, seeds, and flowers are edible, with a spicy flavor similar to cultivated rocket. London rocket is used in the Middle East to treat coughs and chest congestion, to relieve rheumatism, to detoxify the liver and spleen, and to reduce swelling and clean wounds. The Bedouin use the leaf of London Rocket as a tobacco substitute. The cured pods can be placed in a basket with live coals and shaken until the pods are parched, then ground into meal and made into soup or stew. 


Succeeds in most soils.


Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ.


Flowering Season: Winter, Spring


nitrogen containing compounds, phenolic compounds, 
saponins, gums, mucilage, tannins, oils, saturated and 
unsaturated fatty acids, glycosides, proteins, amino 
acids, carbohydrates, phytosterols and flavonoids


Important formulations 

Parts used for medicinal purpose

Seed, ,


Powder -3-6 gms in divided dose per day


 the leaves (presumably) are used as a tobacco substitute. 


Descurainia sophia (L.) Webb , ex Pranttles —Sisymbrium Sophia L . (Cruciferae)


The herb is explained in Dravya Guna Vijnana of P V Sharma as Sisymbrium irio.  Both P V Sharma and JLN Shastry have quoted its English name as Hedge mustard.  True botanical name of hedge mustard is Sisymbrium officinalis. 
Because , it is told that its effects are similar to Mustard, both Sisymbrium irio and 
Sisymbrium officinalis can be considered as Khubkala

Commercial value:

Economic Value

Al-Qudah and Abu Zarga (2010) examined the chemical constituents of S. irio growing in Jordan and found it to be a rich source of flavonoids and glucosinates, but whether any of these have any commercial value is yet to be tested.

Social Benefit

According to Bailey and Danin (1981) the stems, leaves and flowers of S. irio are used as food by the Bedouin in Sinai and the Negev, and the leaves (presumably) are used as a tobacco substitute. Chopra et al. (1956) found that the seeds are expectorant, restorative and a stimulant. They are used for the treatment of asthma, and can be used as a stimulating poultice. An infusion of the leaves is used in treating affections of the throat and chest. 


Annual or biennial herbs, glabrous or sparsely pubescent near the base with simple trichomes, about 15-80 cm tall, not scapose. Rootstocks taproot. Stem erect, ascending, simple or divaricately branched, pubescent at the base and glabrous above. Basal leaves in rosulate or not, obovate-oblanceolate to oblong in outline, about 3-15 x 1.5-6 cm across, margins runcinate-pinnatifid to pinnatipartite, with 3-7 linear lanceolate-oblong lobes on each side, terminal lobe slightly bigger than the lateral ones, lobe margins dentate or lobed, pubescent on the margins and beneath, petiole about 1-4 cm long, cauline leaves gradually smaller, similar to basal but linear, margins 1-3 lobed or entire, petiole short to subsessile. Inflorescence raceme corymbs, 30-80 flowered, elongated in fruit, up to 25 cm long in fruit, ebracteate. Flowers bisexual, yellow, pedicel erect or reflexed, divaricate, slender, much narrower than the fruit, about 6-12 mm long, sepals 4, erect or spreading, linear oblong, cucullate, margin membranous, inner lateral pair base sometimes subsaccate, about 2-2.5 mm long, petals 4, obovate-obovate, margins entire, apex obtuse, about 2.5-3.5 x 1-1.5 mm across, claw distinct, suequalling or slightly shorter than sepals. Stamens 6, tetradynamous, filaments yellowish, not dilated near the base, about 2-4 mm long, anthers ovate-oblong, apex obtuse, about 0.5-0.8 mm long, nectar glands 4 confluent, usually subtending the bases of stamens, median glands present. Ovary superior, linear subcylindrical, bicarpellary, ovules 40-90. Fruit siliqua, dehiscent, linear subcylindrical, about 30-50 x 0.8-1.2 mm across, younger fruits overtopping the flowers, terete, erect or slightly curved inwards, valves prominent midvein, valves glabrous to torulose, replum rounded, septum complete, style subclavate or subelongate, about 0.3-0.5 mm long, stigma capitate, bilobed. Seeds uniseriate, brown, plump, oblong-ovoid, about 0.8-1 mm long, not winged, minutely reticulate, not mucilaginous when soaked, cotyledons obliquely incumbent.


T.S. of seed shows seed coat with six layers, outermost a single layer of epidermis of rectangular, flattened and thin walled cells ranging from 30 to 50 n in length containing colourless, concentrically striated mucilage; a two-cell deep layer of parenchymatous cells, a single row of sclerenchymatous cells with their radial and inner tangential walls thickened, a single-cell layer of pigment, a single cell layer of aleurone grains, followed by crushed parenchymatous cells; cotyledons contain aleurone grains and oil globules; embryo folded; starch absent.

Geographical distribution:

Global Distribution
Asia: Afghanistan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan; Europe; North America: Canada, United States of America.

Local Distribution
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Rajasthan.


Roadsides, rocky places and near cultivated fields, altitude up to 2000 m.
S. irio seems to be capable of growing under a wide range of conditions, provided that its seeds can germinate in full sun and without the hindrance of overlying vegetation.

Plant conservation:

Not evaluated (IUCN).

General Use:

Immature leaves - raw or cooked. Used as greens. A famine food, it is only eaten when better foods are in short supply
Seed - raw or cooked. The seed can be eaten as piñole. It can also be dried, ground into a powder then mixed with water and used as a gruel. The seed can be mixed with water to make a drink.

Therapeutic Uses:

  Svasa, Jvara, Kasa, Vatajanya Vikara, Svarabheda, Daurbalya, Kaphavikara.

Systemic Use:

The seeds are expectorant, restorative and stimulant. They are used in the treatment of asthma. Externally, they are used as a stimulating poultice. The seeds have been placed under the lids of sore eyes in order to cause weeping and thereby wash foreign matter out of the eye. An infusion of the leaves is used in treating affections of the throat and chest


Seed powder 


Balya, Vatahara, Kaphahar, Svedakara, Sothahara

Clinical trials:

1 Ncube N, Afolayan A & Okoh A, Assessment techniques of antimicrobial properties of natural compound of plant origin: current methods and future trends, International Journal of Current Microbiology Applied Science, 3 (5) (2014) 362-376. 
2 Kumara S, Sudipta K, Lokesh P, Neeki A, Rashmi P et al, Phytochemical screening and in vitro antimicrobial activity of Bougainvillea spectabilis flower extracts, Int. J. Phytomed, 4 (2012) 375–379. 
3 Khoshoo T, Biosystematics of Sisymbrium irio Complex XII: Distributional Pattern, Caryologia: International Journal of Cytology, Cytosystematics and Cytogenetics, 19(2) (1966) 143-150, DOI: 10.1080/00087114.1966.10796212. 
4 Lev F, Sisymbrium irio medicinal substances in Jerusalem from early times to the present day Archaeo press, (Oxford, UK), 2003, 62. 
5 Guil J, Guerrero J, Gimenez M & Tarija M, Nutritional composition of wild edible Cruciferae species, J. Food Biochem, 23 (3) (1998) 283


1. Conrad A, Biehler D, Nobis T, Richter H, Engels Ietal, Broad spectrum antibacterial activity of a mixture of isothiocyanates from nasturtium (Tropaeolimajoris herba) & horseradish (Armoraciae rusticanae radix), Drug Res, (Stuttgart), 63 (2013) 65–68. 
2. Yukes J & Michael J, Dominican Medicinal Plants: A Guide for Health Care Providers. Dominican Medicinal Plants: A Guide for Health Care Providers, New York: New York Botanical Garden, 2010. 
3. Awad A, Downie A, Fink C & Kim U, Dietary phytosterols inhibits the growth & metastasis of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells grown in SCID mice,Anticancer Res, 20 (2000) 821–824. 
4. Von H, Fink C & Awad A, Beta-sitosterol activates the sphingomyelin cycle and induces apoptosis in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells, Nutr. Cancer, 32 (1998) 8–12. 
5.  Dania F, Kassim H, Sura F & Ashour H, Hepatoprotective Effects of London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio L) Extract against CCl4 induced Hepatotoxicity in Albino Rats, Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 46(1) (2017) 8-12 
6. Lesiuk S, Czechowska G, Zimmer S, Slomka M, Madro A et al, Catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activities in various rat tissues after Prevention of CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity albino rats, Int. J. Toxicol., 19 (1999) 429-441. 
7. Srivastava S, Chen N & Holtzman J, The in vitro NADPH-dependent inhibition by CCl4 of the ATP-dependent calcium uptake of hepatic microsomes from male rats. Studies on the mechanism of inactivation of the hepatic microsomal calcium pump by the CCl3 radical, J. Biol. Chem, 265 (1990) 


It is best to avoid during pregnancy

Toxicity studies:

It is best to avoid higher doses in pitta body type persons

Use in other system of medicine:

In the  Mediterranean region Sisymbrium irio leaves are consumed as food and used as folk medicine for infections of the throat and chest14. This plant is used in Unani system of medicine for various therapeutic uses and recommended for the prevention of dengue fever due to the presence of bioactive components


London Rocket is an annual herb more than 3 ft tall, with open, slender stem branches. The flowers are small with four pale yellow petals. The basal leaves are broad and often lobed, while the upper leaves are linear in shape and up to four inches long. The fruit is a long narrow cylindrical silique, which stays green when ripe. When dried the fruit has small red oblong seeds. London Rocket is used in the Middle East to treat coughs and chest congestion, to relieve rheumatism, to detoxify the liver and spleen, and to reduce swelling and clean wounds.

Photos of khubakalam -

Sisymbrium irio

KEY WORDS: khubakalam Sisymbrium irio

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