The plant can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure. Normally untroubled by pests or diseases. Edible parts include the flowers, leaves, and young leaves – raw or cooked. It has a distinctly strong spicy flavor, best from fast, well-grown plants. Often used in salads and soups, however sparingly as the spicy flavor is known to quickly overpower most tastes.
In Roman times Arugula was grown for both its leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavouring oils. Part of a typical Roman meal was to offer a salad of greens, frequently arugula, romaine, chicory, mallow and lavender and seasoned with a ‘cheese sauce for lettuce’.
It has been used in England in salads since Elizabethan times. On another interesting note, Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food) – …but we can make no promises!
The term arugula (variations of Italian dialects around Arigola) is used by the Italian diaspora in Australia and North America and from there picked up as a loan word to a varying degree in American and Australian English, particularly in culinary usage. The names ultimately all derive from the Latin word eruca.
Vernacular names include Garden Rocket, Rocket, Eruca, Rocket salad, or Arugula (American English), In Italy, it can be known as Rucola, Rugola, Rucola gentile, Rughetta, Ruchetta or Rucola selvatica.
Throughout the world there are variations: Rauke or ruke (German), Roquette (French), Rokka (Greek), Ruca (Catalan), Beharki (Basque), Oruga (Spanish), Rúcula (Portuguese) krapkool (Flemish), Arugula Selvatica, arugula sylvatica, aeruca rocket, eruka psevnaya (Russian), oruga (Spanish), jaramago (Spanish), Roman rocket, salad rocket, sciatica cress, shinlock…