From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris var. alba
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Betoideae
Genus: Beta
Species: B. vulgaris
Binomial name
Beta vulgaris

Mangelwurzel or mangold wurzel (from German Mangel/Mangold and Wurzel, "root"), also called mangold,[1] mangel beet,[1] field beet,[2] and fodder beet, is a cultivated root vegetable derived from Beta vulgaris. Its large white, yellow or orange-yellow swollen roots were developed in the 18th century as a fodder crop for feeding livestock.


Contemporary use is primarily for cattle, pig and other stock feed, although it can be eaten – especially when young – by humans. Considered a crop for cool-temperate climates, the mangelwurzel sown in autumn can be grown as a winter crop in warm-temperate to sub-tropical climates. Both leaves and roots may be eaten. Leaves can be lightly steamed for salads or lightly boiled as a vegetable if treated like English spinach. Grown in well-dug, well-composted soil and watered regularly, the roots become tender, juicy and flavourful. The roots are prepared boiled like potato for serving mashed, diced or in sweet curries. Animals are known to thrive upon this plant; both its leaves and roots providing a nutritious food. Mangelwurzel may require supplementary potassium (potash) for optimum yields, flavour and texture, and foliage readily displays potassium deficiency as interveinal chlorosis. In 19th-century American usage they were sometimes referred to as 'mango.'

The 1830 book The Practice of Cookery includes a recipe for a beer made with mangelwurzel.[3]

In tradition

The mangelwurzel has a history in England of being used for sport,[4] for celebration, for animal fodder and for the brewing of a potent alcoholic beverage.

In South Somerset, on the last Thursday of October every year, Punkie Night is celebrated. Children carry around lanterns called "Punkies", which are hollowed-out mangelwurzels. Mangelwurzels are also carved out for Halloween in Norfolk and Wales.[citation needed]

John Le Marchant recommends cutting the "mangel-wurzel" to learn the proper mechanics for a draw cut with the broadsword in his historic manual.

In popular culture

It is the source of the name for the English folk/pop/comedy/scrumpy-and-western musical group The Wurzels.

English comedian Tony Hancock made a short song about mangelwurzels in The Bowmans episode of Hancock's Half Hour.

The mangelwurzel is featured in the 1984 novel Jitterbug Perfume written by Tom Robbins. The main character Alobar originally hails from a Slavic nation where beets are quite prevalent, and eventually the mangelwurzel is used as the base note in the mysterious perfume from which the book derives its name.

The mangelwurzel also had a role in the cult TV kids show as Worzel Gummidge's head, where it could often be heard to say things like "go boil your head."

Mangels are a frequently mentioned animal fodder in George Orwell's novel, Animal Farm.

Mangel wurzel is the only vegetable that was available for Sarah Bruckman to purchase in Two Fronts by Harry Turtledove. Turtledove also uses it as a staple of the post-eruption Maine diet in his Supervolcano series.

Food shortages in Europe following World War I caused great hardships, including cases of mangel-wurzel disease, as relief workers called it. It was a consequence of eating only beets.[5]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wright, Clifford A. (2001) Mediterranean Vegetables: a cook's ABC of vegetables and their preparation in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, and north Africa with more than 200 authentic recipes for the home cook Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Common Press, page 52, ISBN 1-55832-196-9
  2. Raynbird, Hugh (1851) "On the Cultivation of Mangold-wurzel or Field-beet" Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland; New Series pp. 534-38, page 534
  3. Dalgairns, Mrs. (1830) The Practice of Cookery: adapted to the business of every day life (third edition) Cadell & Company, Edinburgh, Scotland, page 498, OCLC 24513143
  4. "Home". Retrieved 2012-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

Further reading

  • Commerell, Abbé de Mémoire et instruction sur la culture, l’usage et les avantages de la racine de disette ou betterave champêtre, Paris : Impr. royale, 1786, 8vo., 24 p. / 1788, 4to., 15 p. / Paris : Buisson, 1786, 8vo., 44 p. / 1787 (3e éd.), 8vo., 47 p. / Metz : Impr. de Ve Antoine et fils, et Paris : Impr. de Ve Hérissant, 1786, 8vo., 40 p. / Paris : chez Onfroy et Petit, 1788, 8vo., 47 p. / édition raccourcie, Paris, Impr. royale, 1788, 4to., 15 p.
    • --do.-- An Account of the Culture and Use of the Mangel Wurzel, or root of scarcity, London : C. Dilly, 1787, 8vo., 56 p. / 3rd ed. Edited by John Coakley Lettsom. London : C. Dilly, 1787, 8vo., xxxix, 51 p.

External links