What Is Black Mustard? (Uses, Taste + More)

Mustard is a popular condiment consumed around the world, and there are tons of types of mustard available.

If you’ve ever seen black mustard, you may be wondering what black mustard is. I looked up the facts and here is what I discovered!

What is Black Mustard?

Black mustard is a summer annual plant known for its black or dark brown seeds, which are used as a spice and used to make the condiment mustard. Black mustard is the most pungent variety of mustard seed and is native to the Middle East and is usually planted in temperate regions of the world, like Europe and some parts of Asia. 

How is black mustard different from the other types of mustard? Keep reading to find out more!

What Does Black Mustard Look Like?

Black mustard or brassica nigra, is a tall lanky plant that can reach up to 4 meters in height.

Black mustard stands upright and the black mustard’s base is usually covered in bristles or hairs, and gradually becomes smoother at the top.

Generally, the black mustard plant has large, lobed leaves, measuring up to 10 inches in length, and becomes smaller and smaller as it reaches the top.

Leaves found at the base of the mustard plant often have bristly hairs and are rough to the touch while the leaves at the top usually have an elliptic or other odd shapes.

Additionally, black mustard has bright yellow flowers with 4 petals that form a ring around the stem.

Below the flowers, there is a fruit with two-chambered pods with reddish or grayish tiny rounded seeds.

What Is Black Mustard Used For?

Romans first used the seeds of the black mustard plant as a condiment and these seeds were mixed with partially fermented grape juice to create mustard.

Plus, Romans also placed these seeds in the tombs of their pharaohs and dead family members to take with them to the afterlife.

Leaves of the black mustard plant were also pickled and eaten, usually soaked in vinegar for weeks.

To make the condiment, the seeds of the black mustard plant are usually removed from their seed coat, before mixing the mustard seeds with other ingredients.

In Indian cultures, whole black mustard seeds are cooked in hot oil until they pop, releasing a nutty flavor that is popular in some traditional Indian dishes.

These mustards seeds also produce oil, which is a common cooking oil in India and is a staple among households.

Moreover, the leaves and flowers of the black mustard plant are also edible, and the shoots and leaves of the plant are eaten as a vegetable in Ethiopia.

Where Can You Find Black Mustard?

Where Can You Find Black Mustard?

Black mustard is native to the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Southern Asia.

Currently, the plant has evolved and has widely spread, spreading to countries like the United States and Canada.

Black mustard is widely rampant in California because of the sunny weather, and black mustard can be found almost anywhere, from roadsides to fields.

Plus, black mustard is also a common plant in Northern and Central Illinois, but absent in Southern Illinois.

What Is The Significance Of Black Mustard In History?

In the bible, it is believed that the mustard seed referenced in the book of Luke is the black mustard seed.

In the Book of Luke in the bible, black mustard was described to grow into a great tree, and only the black mustard plant reaches great heights.

Additionally, it was also believed that the seeds of the black mustard plant were scattered by early Franciscan priests to serve as a guide to roads.

Black mustard plants were made into a golden trail, using its great height and bright flowers, to mark the path of El Camino Real roads, guiding travelers to shelter.

What Is The Difference Between Black Mustard and Brown Mustard?

Black mustard is a tall plant, growing up to 4 meters in its peak height, while the brown mustard plant does not usually reach 2 meters.

Their leaves are also a bit different in shape and size since black mustard leaves tend to be wider, especially the leaves at the base of the plant.

Black mustard seeds are also more pungent than brown mustard seeds. Plus, black mustard seeds are also bigger whereas brown mustard seeds are smaller.

Check out our other articles to learn if mustard tenderizes meat, what crab mustard is, and what brown mustard is.


Though not as common now because black mustard is harder to cultivate, black mustard is still a very significant ingredient to the hottest mustard condiments produced.

Seeds of the black mustard plant are known to be more pungent and pack more heat than any other variety of seeds of the mustard plant.

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