The Turnip (Brassica Rapa) belongs to the Cruciferous Cabbage

tribe, being often found growing in waste places, though not truly

wild. In this state it is worth nothing to man or beast; but, by

cultivation, it becomes a most valuable food for cattle in the winter,

and a good vegetable for our domestic uses. It exercises some

aperient action, and the liquid in which turnips are boiled will

increase the flow of urine. It
is called also bagie, and was the

gongyle of the Greeks, so named from the roundness of the root.

When mashed, and mixed with bread and milk, the Turnip makes an

excellent cleansing and stimulating poultice for indolent abscesses

or sores.

The Scotch eat small, yellow-rooted Turnips as we do radishes.

Tastes and Turnips proverbially differ. At Plymouth, and some

other places, when a girl rejects a suitor, she is said to give him

turnips, probably with reference to his sickly pallor of


The seventeenth of June--as the day of St. Botolph, the old turnip

man,--is distinguished by various uses of a Turnip, because in the

Saga, which figuratively represents the seasons, the seeds were

sown on that day.

It is told that the King of Bithynia in some expedition against the

Scythians during the winter, and when at a great distance from the

sea, had a violent [575] longing for a small fish known as aphy--a

pilchard, or anchovy. His cook cut a Turnip to a perfect imitation of

its shape, which, when fried in oil, well salted, and powdered with

the seeds of a dozen black poppies, so deceived the king that he

praised the root at table as an excellent fish.

Being likely to provoke flatulent distension of the bowels, Turnips

are not a proper vegetable for hysterical persons, or for pregnant

women. The rind is acrimonious, but the tops, when young and

tender, may be boiled for the table as a succulent source of potash,

and other mineral salts in the Spring.

The fermented juice of Turnips will yield an ardent spirit. When

properly cooked they serve to sweeten the blood. An essential

volatile oil contained in the root, chiefly in the rind, disagrees, by

provoking flatulent distension. This root is sometimes cut up and

partly substituted for the peel and pulp of oranges in marmalade.

If Turnips are properly grown in dry, lean, sandy earth, a

wholesome, agreeable sort of bread can be made from them, of

which we have eaten at the greatest persons' tables, and which is

hardly to be distinguished from the best of wheat. Some persons

roast Turnips in paper under the embers, and serve them with butter

and sugar. The juice made into syrup is an old domestic remedy for

coughs and hoarseness.

A nice wholesome dish of Piedmontese Turnips is thus prepared:

Half boil your Turnip, and cut it in slices like half-crowns; butter a

pie dish, and put in the slices, moisten them with a little milk and

weak broth, sprinkle over lightly with bread crumbs, adding pepper

and salt; then bake in the oven until the Turnips become of a light

golden colour.

[576] The Turnip, a navew, or variety of Rape (navus), should

never be sown in a rich soil, wherein it would become degenerate

and lose its shape as well as its dry agreeable relish. Horace advised

field-grown Turnips as preferable at a banquet to those of garden

culture. They may be safely eaten when raw, having been at one

time much consumed in Russia by the upper classes.

Turnips have been introduced into armorial bearings to represent a

person of liberal disposition who relieves the poor.

Dr. Johnson's famous illustration of false logic ran thus:--

If a man fresh Turnips cries:

But cries not when his father dies,

Is this a proof the man would rather

Possess fresh Turnips than a father?