What Kind Of Plant Is Canola?

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by Derek

What is Canola?

Canola is a plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard. The name Canola stands for “Canadian oil, low acid” and it was coined by the Canadian Oilseed Council in the 1970s.

Key takeaways about the Canola plant:

Canola is a plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family, grown mainly for its seeds, rich in oil content.

Canola stands for “Canadian oil, low acid”, and it was coined by the Canadian Oilseed Council in the 1970s.

Canola is a crucial crop worldwide since it’s widely used for its oil content due to its neutral taste, high smoke point, and low levels of saturated fats.

Canola was developed through traditional plant breeding methods from rapeseed plants, and it has low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates, making it safe for human consumption and animal feed.

Canola seeds have low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates compared to rapeseed, and contain higher amounts of oleic acid which is considered healthier for humans.

Canola plants require specific growing conditions, including well-drained fertile soil, a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5, 15°C to 25°C temperatures, and 20-30 inches of rainfall during the growing season.

Canola oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant using a combination of mechanical pressing and solvent extraction, and the remaining material is used as livestock feed. Canola farming contributes significantly to the agricultural economy by providing edible oil and livestock feed while also helping improve soil quality through crop rotation practices.

Canola is grown mainly for its seeds which are rich in oil content. It’s a major crop in Canada, and it’s also grown in other parts of the world like Australia, Europe, and Asia.

What the heck is Canola?


The Significance of Canola in Agriculture

Canola is a crucial crop worldwide since it’s widely used for its oil content. The oil extracted from canola seeds has gained popularity due to its neutral taste, high smoke point and low levels of saturated fats. This makes it an ideal cooking oil for most people.

Additionally, canola meal (leftover after crushing seeds) is a rich source of protein that serves as livestock feed. Therefore, canola farming contributes significantly to the agricultural economy by providing edible oil and livestock feed while also helping improve soil quality through crop rotation practices.

What is the Canola plant?

Canola, scientifically known as Brassica napus, is a bright yellow flowering plant that belongs to the crucifer family. It is an edible oilseed crop that is grown primarily for its oil-rich seeds and has a wide range of uses. Canola was developed through traditional plant breeding methods from rapeseed plants, and its name originates from “Can” for Canada and “ola” for oil.

Define canola and its origin

Field of yellow canola flowers

Canola was first developed in Canada in the 1970s by crossbreeding several varieties of rapeseed plants. The main aim of developing canola was to create a new variety of rapeseed with low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates, making it safe for human consumption and animal feed. Erucic acid, found in high levels in traditional rapeseed oil, has been linked to heart problems while glucosinolates give traditional rapeseed products an unpleasant taste.

Explain the difference between rapeseed and canola

Rapeseeds are very similar to canola seeds but have higher levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates. This makes them unsuitable for human consumption or animal feed without additional processing.

In contrast, canola seeds have low levels of these compounds and contain higher amounts of oleic acid which is considered healthier for humans than other saturated fatty acids found in some oils. Thus, canola oil is preferred over traditional rapeseed oil because it is healthier and more versatile in cooking applications.

Canola plant characteristics

close up of canola flowers with background of young green plants

What does a canola plant look like?

The canola plant is a member of the Brassica family and looks similar to other members such as broccoli, cauliflower or mustard greens. It grows up to five feet tall and has long, narrow leaves with smooth edges.

The plant produces bright yellow flowers that are similar to those of the rapeseed plant, but smaller in size. At the center of each flower is a cluster of green pods that contain tiny black seeds.

Life cycle of a canola plant

Like most crops, canola has a specific life cycle that begins with seed germination and ends with seed production. Canola seeds are typically planted in early spring and start to germinate when the soil temperature reaches 10°C (50°F). The young plants take about two months to grow into mature plants with multiple branches, flowers, and pods.

Towards the end of summer or early fall, the pods start to dry out and turn brown which indicates they are ready for harvest. After harvesting, any remaining plant material is plowed back into the soil to provide nutrients for future crops.

The Ideal Growing Conditions for Canola Plants

Canola Growing Conditions
Plant Common Name Scientific Name US Growing Zone Hardy/Perennial Soil Type Sunshine Requirements Water Needs
Canola Brassica napus 3-11 Annual Well-drained, fertile soils Full sun to partial shade Regular watering

Canola plants require specific conditions to grow properly and produce a good yield. These plants thrive in a temperate climate with temperatures ranging between 15°C to 25°C. The soil should be well-drained, fertile, and have a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5.

Canola plants also require enough rainfall during the growing season, which usually starts in the fall and ends in spring. They need approximately 20-30 inches of rainfall during this period, evenly spaced out throughout the season.

How Climate Affects Growth and Yield

Climate plays a crucial role in canola plant growth and yield. Too much or too little rainfall can affect the plant’s growth negatively. Excess moisture causes the soil to get waterlogged, which can stunt plant growth or cause fungal diseases like blackleg.

On the other hand, insufficient moisture can lead to slow and stunted growth, resulting in lower yields at harvest time. High temperatures above 30°C can also cause heat stress on canola plants, leading to reduced yields.

Overall, weather conditions are crucial for achieving optimal results when growing canola plants. Farmers must monitor climate patterns closely so that they can make necessary changes and adjustments accordingly for optimal growth outcomes.

Canola is mainly grown in the northern Great Plains region of the United States, which includes the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota.

Uses of Canola

Extracting Canola Oil from Seeds

Canola oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant using a combination of mechanical pressing and solvent extraction. First, the canola seeds are cleaned, dried, and preheated before being crushed to extract the oil.

The remaining material is then further processed with solvents like hexane to extract more oil. The extracted oil is then refined to remove impurities and improve its color, flavor, and shelf life.

oil pressed from Canola plant seeds in bottle

Common Uses of Canola Oil

Canola oil has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, which makes it a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking. It is commonly used for frying, sautéing, roasting, and grilling due to its ability to withstand high heat without breaking down or producing harmful compounds. In addition to cooking applications, canola oil is also used in:

– Salad dressings – Margarine

– Shortening – Baked goods

– Snack foods Due to its heart-healthy profile (low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat), many health-conscious consumers use canola oil as a replacement for less healthy oils like butter or coconut oil.

Uses of Canola Oil
Product Uses
Cooking High heat cooking, frying, baking, salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
Industrial Biodiesel fuel, lubricants, inks, paints, plastics, and soaps.
Personal Care Moisturizing and conditioning agent in skin and hair care products.
Animal Feed Source of essential fatty acids for livestock and pets.

Nutritional Value

The Nutritional Benefits of Consuming Canola Oil

Canola oil is a healthy and versatile cooking oil that has a lot of nutritional benefits. One of the reasons why canola oil is so popular among health enthusiasts is because it’s rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are considered to be beneficial for heart health.

MUFA is known to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood while increasing good cholesterol levels. Canola oil has a high smoke point, making it perfect for frying and baking too.

Health Benefits of Canola Oil
Benefit Description
Heart Health Contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease
Weight Management Low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats, can help with weight loss and management when used in moderation as part of a balanced diet
Inflammation Reduction Rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like arthritis and asthma
Brain Function Contains vitamin E and K which are important for brain health and cognitive function
Cancer Prevention Rich in antioxidants which can help prevent cancer by protecting the body against oxidative stress and inflammation

Comparing Canola Oil to Other Oils

When compared to other oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil, canola oil stands out due to its low saturated fat content. Saturated fats are known to increase bad cholesterol levels in the body, which makes them unhealthy when consumed in large quantities.

In contrast, canola oil contains only 7% saturated fats, making it an excellent choice for people who want to enjoy the benefits of cooking oils without worrying about their health. Additionally, canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for brain function and overall health.

Comparison of Canola Oil with Other Oils
Oil Type Smoke Point (°F) Fat Content (g/100g) Omega-3 (g/100g) Omega-6 (g/100g) Saturated Fat (g/100g)
Canola Oil 400 100 9.14 19.73 7.37
Olive Oil 374 100 0.76 7.98 13.81
Peanut Oil 450 100 0 32.46 16.93
Coconut Oil 350 100 0 1.74 86.50

Canola oil is a nutritious cooking option that has numerous nutritional benefits when compared with other oils on the market. Its high MUFA content makes it an ideal option for reducing bad cholesterol levels and improving heart health while its low saturated fat content ensures that consumers don’t have to worry about negative consequences on their overall well-being.


Canola as a Sustainable Crop

When it comes to sustainability, canola is a star performer. This crop has been known to improve soil health, prevent erosion and contribute to biodiversity.

Canola is considered sustainable because it requires fewer pesticides and less fertilizer compared to other crops. It also produces a large amount of oil per acre, making it an efficient crop for farmers.

Contribution to Soil Health

young canola plant sprouting out of the soil

Canola is known for its deep root system that can reach up to 6 feet into the soil. This extensive root system helps the plant absorb nutrients and water from deeper layers of the soil, which can reduce runoff and erosion. Additionally, when canola plants decompose after harvest, they leave behind organic matter that contributes to the nutrient content of the soil.

Biodiversity and Crop Rotation

Farmers have long recognized that rotating crops can be beneficial for maintaining healthy soils and preventing diseases. Canola fits well into crop rotations because it is not in the same family as many other crops such as wheat or corn.

By rotating with canola, farmers are able to break cycles of pests and disease while also maintaining biodiversity on their farms. Canola is considered by many farmers around the world as one of their most sustainable crops due its deep roots which help maintain healthy soils; its ability to grow with fewer pesticides or fertilizers than many other crops; high yield per acre; contribution towards promoting healthy biodiversity on farms through crop rotation with other crops such as wheat or corn helping prevent diseases while maintaining diversity in fields which over time improves overall sustainability practices for agriculture globally.

Interesting Facts

The Name Origin of Canola

Did you know that the name “canola” actually comes from a combination of “Canada” and “oil”? The plant was originally developed in Canada in the 1970s from rapeseed plants, which were high in erucic acid and toxic for human consumption. The new variety had low levels of erucic acid and was therefore safe for both humans and animals to consume.

The Unique Properties of Canola Oil

Canola oil is not only low in saturated fat, but it also has a high smoke point, making it perfect for cooking at high temperatures. Additionally, it has a neutral flavor that doesn’t interfere with the taste of other ingredients.

But did you know that canola oil is also used as a lubricant? Its properties make it ideal for use in industrial machinery.

Canola’s Impact on Biodiesel Production

biodiesel station sign

Another interesting fact about canola is its impact on the production of biodiesel. In North America, canola oil is one of the main sources used in biodiesel production due to its high energy content. In fact, one metric tonne of canola seeds can produce up to 420 liters of biodiesel!

Canola’s Role in Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is an important aspect of sustainable agriculture, and canola plays an important role in this practice. Canola breaks up soil compaction caused by other crops while also suppressing weeds due to its dense canopy.

Furthermore, after harvesting, the leftover plant material decomposes quickly and enriches the soil with essential nutrients. Overall, these interesting facts demonstrate just how versatile and beneficial canola plants are not only to our diets but also to various industries such as biodiesel production and agriculture.


Canola is a versatile and nutritious crop that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It boasts a wide range of benefits, from its high nutritional value to its sustainable farming practices. Here are some key takeaways:

Canola is not rapeseed

While canola and rapeseed are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different plants. Canola was specifically developed from rapeseed to be low in erucic acid and glucosinolates, making it safer for human consumption.

Canola is sustainable

One of the biggest benefits of canola is how sustainable it is as a crop. It contributes to soil health, biodiversity, and crop rotation, making it an environmentally friendly option for farmers.

Canola oil is healthy

Not only does canola oil have a neutral taste that makes it great for cooking and baking, but it’s also high in healthy fats like omega-3s. This makes it a great alternative to other oils that may not be as nutrient-dense.

The future of canola looks bright

As consumers become more health-conscious and environmentally aware, the demand for sustainable crops like canola will likely continue to grow. With continued research and development, there’s no telling how much potential this versatile plant could have in the years ahead. Overall, what kind of plant is canola?

It’s a nutritious and eco-friendly crop that has a lot to offer both farmers and consumers alike. Whether you’re cooking with its oil or simply admiring its beautiful yellow flowers in the field, there’s no denying the many benefits of this remarkable plant.

FAQ relating to Canola plant

What is canola?

Canola is a type of edible oil that is derived from the seeds of the canola plant. The name “canola” is actually an acronym for “Canadian oil, low acid”. It was developed in the 1970s in Canada and is now widely used around the world.

Is canola oil healthy?

Yes, canola oil is considered to be a healthy oil. It is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains vitamin E and K.

Can canola oil be used for cooking?

Yes, canola oil is a versatile oil that can be used for cooking, baking, and frying. It has a high smoke point, which means it can be heated to high temperatures without smoking or burning.

What are the benefits of using canola oil?

Canola oil is a heart-healthy oil that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also a good source of energy, and can be used as a substitute for other oils and fats in cooking and baking.

Is canola oil genetically modified?

Yes, most of the canola plants grown today are genetically modified to make them more resistant to pests and herbicides. However, the genetic modification has not been shown to have any negative effects on human health.

Are there any potential risks associated with using canola oil?

There have been some concerns raised about the potential for canola oil to cause inflammation and damage to cells in the body. However, these concerns are not supported by scientific research.

How should canola oil be stored?

Canola oil should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. It should also be kept in an airtight container to prevent it from becoming rancid. Canola oil has a shelf life of about one year if stored properly.

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