Arugula is a plant that’s been around for a long time. Despite its popularity in the Mediterranean region for centuries, though, it only recently became popular in the United States.
With its popularity, arugula has been called by quite a few different names, including rocket and ruchtetta. One other word you may have been hearing, especially if you’re familiar with Italy at all, is rucola.
Is arugula also called rucola? We’ll be investigating the history of arugula and its many nicknames in this post.
Quick Answer: Is Arugula Rucola?
Yes, rucola is another word for arugula. Rucola is still commonly used in Italy today to describe the plant.
The exception is the southernmost part of Italy, which refers to arugula as aruculu instead.
Why is Arugula Called Rucola?
In the United States, some Italian Americans would refer to arugula as rucola because of their heritage. As we mentioned previously, rucola is what is typically used when referring to arugula in Italy, even today.
There isn’t any particular reason it’s referred to that way. It’s simply a phrase that was carried over to the United States by immigrants.
Other Names for Arugula
Aside from arugula and rucola, the plant has numerous nicknames, each with their own brief history.
Go really far back in time, all the way to ancient Rome, and you’ll find that people also called arugula “eruca.” Eruca is the Latin word for caterpillar. This was likely because caterpillars were garden pests in Roman times, and they frequently targeted arugula.
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that one of the nicknames is “rocket” or even “garden rocket.” Some have said this refers to how quickly the plant grows, as it can germinate in just a few days.
However, others have said that the nickname rocket also comes from Italy. Supposedly, it evolved from the Italian word “ruchtetta,” which transformed into “roquette” when it was brought to France.
Roquette, as you can hear, sounds a lot like the English word rocket.
All these names tell you one thing about arugula: it’s been popular for far longer than you might think, and among far more people than you might think. People all over the world have loved this vegetable and nicknamed it accordingly.
There’s a shocking amount of history behind the cultivation of arugula. By looking at its name, you’re only seeing the very tip of the iceberg.If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out our article on where arugula comes from.