Peppery Tasting Nasturtium

Tropaeolum (trophy) Majus is commonly known as Nasturtium (na-stir-shum), which literally means “nose twister”.  It’s common name was given because it produces a peppery oil similar to that of the genus nasturtium; the watercress family. It was originally imported into the U.S. from Spain.

There are about 80 species of nasturtium. As of now I grow just the one pictured. Sorry, I have no idea what species it is. It has been in my garden for years and is blooming now. It blooms mid summer through fall. It is perennial and seems to pop up in yet another locale each year. Common nasturtium colors range from light to dark yellow and light to dark orange, to red and some are variegated yellow and orange.  I love their round variegated leaves and the flowers have little tails on them. They remind me of little lily pads. There are also varieties sporting the blue to purple spectrum that come from Chile. Nasturtium can be climbing, cascading or bushy. This one is cascading.

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They are great companion plants. They are used in organic gardens to repel some insect pests and to lure away others, such as aphids, and trap them away from the organic crops.

Now and then my husband will find one or two on his dinner plate. All parts of the nasturtium are edible. They have a very peppery flavor like that of watercress. It is fun to use them as an edible decoration.

Nasturtium have antiseptic and expectorant qualities and have been used in herbal medicine for respiratory and urinary tract infections. In Germany, licensed physicians are allowed to prescribe the herbal antibiotic, Angocin Anti-Infekt N, made from only nasturtium and horseradish root. One study showed its effectiveness in reducing symptoms of acute sinusitis, bronchitis, and urinary tract infections (UTI) within 2 to 7 percentage points of standard antibiotics with their higher side effects.

 

 

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