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Common name: Nasturtium

Botanical name: Tropaeolum majus

Nasturtium Origin and Description

Nasturtium would have to be one of my favourite plants. A native of the Andean region in South America, it is a succulent herb with a trailing or climbing habit. It has found it’s way into gardens all around the world and is not only delightful to look at with verdant lime green orbicular leaves, but it also has gorgeous flowers in brilliant shades of orange, yellow and red. The six centimetre flowers are then followed by a wrinkled three lobed fruit. When it is happy it trails wildly over everything and then will disappear just as quickly only to spring up somewhere else.

Uses of Nasturtium

Related the Watercress, it was also known as Indian Cress when it first arrived in Europe. This group of plants is highly beneficial as a medicine and can be eaten on a regular basis. Add flowers and leaves to salads and sandwiches, or stuff them with sweet or savoury fillings. In a time of continuing food insecurity throughout the world these kinds of plants provide essential vitamin C and nourishment and can be grown easily in any garden or as a potted plant.

Nasturtium seed can be pickled in vinegar to be used as a caper substitute, but due to the high oxalic acid content, they can’t be eaten in large quantities.

This Cress like plant has been recommended as a urinary tract disinfectant and it was said by the naturopath Dr Vogel that a Nasturtium a day kept the flu away in the Winter months.

The leaves of Nasturtium contain sulphur heterosides similar to those present in members of the Brassica genus of vegetables. In the garden it is therefore beneficial to intersperse rows of Brassicas with rows of nasturtiums to provide an alternative food source for damaging insects that may target Brassicas. Brassicas include plants like Broccoli, Cabbage, Mustard, Rocket and Brussel Sprouts.

Cultivating Nasturtium

It is frost tender so will only grow in the warmer months, however it can grow all year round in warmer climates. In this case plant the seeds in situ from Spring to Autumn in a friable rich soil or leave them to self seed. In temperate climates plant in situ after the last frost in Spring. They will disappear over Winter. It loves growing near a compost pile and does prefer a well drained fertile soil in a sunny or partly shaded position.

This plant is highly recommended for any garden as a simple and nutritious plant to grow.

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