Raw Materials Nasturtium - Gardener’s Dream

Nasturtium - Gardener’s Dream

03/15/12 15:37:31 (4 comments)

by: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta


Nasturtiums
are one of the favorite flowers of gardeners because of their ease, versatility and flavor, and of course their beauty. These little wonders require very little attention to thrive in a garden.


Botanical NameTropaeolum majus L.
FamilyTropaeolaceae
Common Name – Nasturtium (English), Indian cress, Pohe haole (Hawaii), Capucine
 

The name "Tropaeolum" comes from the Greek tropaion, which means "trophy." Tropaeolum is said to have sprouted from the spilled blood of a Trojan warrior. The round leaf was his shield and the flower was his helmet. The English common name "nasturtium" comes from nasus tortus ("a twisted nose") which is given because of its pungent odor.

The common name Nasturtium is confusing as it may lead to the watercresses of the genus Nasturtium belonging to the family Brasicaceae. In fact, the plant has received its vernacular name because it produces oil similar to that produced by Nasturtium officinale. Both plants are not too closely related as Tropaeolum majus belongs to the family Tropaeolaceae, which includes several highly-prized, but also quite common garden plants.

Origin

Tropaeolum majus originates from Peru, where it grows at up to 3,000 m altitudes. It has been naturalized in different parts of the world—Southwest Europe, USA, Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Northern Africa.

Habitat

This plant generally grows in warmer parts of the lowlands and especially in coastal regions. In New Zealand it now covers most of the Northern Island and is restricted to the coastal regions in the Southern Island. It grows usually on disturbed sites, especially adjacent to gardens and dumps, on wastelands, riverbanks or banks along roadsides, in shrub lands, herb fields, wetlands, and streamside.

History

Since ancient times this plant is largely used as a kitchen herb in the Mediterranean region, where it was introduced by the conquistadors in the 1500’s. The natives of Peru used the dried leaves as a tea to treat cough, flu and colds, but also pains or respiratory infections. It is high in vitamin C, so it is a quite efficient natural anti-inflammatory and antibiotic used typically in the treatment of minor cuts, scratches and bruises. Called “Indian cress” by English herbalists, because of its origins, Tropaeolum majus has gained its place in West European cuisine, adding spicy flavor to salads or being used for spiced and balsamic vinegars. There is even a famous Nasturtium mayonnaise. During the World War II its spicy seeds were used as a pepper substitute.

Essential oil and Notes

Tropaeolum majus volatile oil contains glucosynolates, sulphur glicosydes, an antibiotic (tromalyte), bensilglucosynolate, glucosinol, and glicotropeoline. The plant also contains flavonoids, vitamin C, iodide, spilantolic acid, oxalic acid and mirosine (enzymes). The peppery taste of nasturtium is due to the chemical component glucosynolates, which are also present in mustard oil. The aroma of the leaves, stems and flowers is pungent.

Nasturtium was used in Bazar Christian Lacroix from 2002, Eau de Patou Jean Patou from 1976, Paris Yves Saint Laurent from 1983.

Botany

Tropaeolum majus is a glabrous annual plant, sometimes showing perennial behavior, with up to 10 m long trailing or climbing (up to 2 m high) succulent stems. The leaves of the plants are simple and have long petioles, sometimes up to 30 cm. The flowers are usually solitary, but sometimes in clusters of 2-3, and have a moderately irregular corolla, usually yellow to orange in color. The stamens are yellow to reddish, having the same color as the corolla. The flowers are mildly fragrant and very showy. Fruits are dry and have carpels with 2 flattened faces and the third or dorsal side rounded and obtusely ribbed. The plant has a very distinctive appearance and it is hard to confuse them with other species. The cultivars of this plant show variation mainly in flower color and number of petals.

USES

Leaves of Nasturtium were eaten in salads; unripe seeds and flower buds were pickled
and served as a substitute for capers.

Problems with pimples? Soothe and heal pimples by using crushed Nasturtium petals on the afflicted areas. Use crushed leaves and flowers in an aqueous cream to relieve cracked heels.

 


Author: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta (cshekhar)

Fragrantica Writer

 

 



 

 



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Vickalena
Vickalena

My beloved Nasturtium, a small miracle: its unusual flowers with sharp and slightly bitter smell remind me of exotic birds. This decorative horticultural crop is a highlight in any garden and at the same time it possesses the healing properties.. One of my favorite flowers... and you can eat it! :) I like your articles, cshekhar!

Dec
12
2012
Iva Vendetta
Iva Vendetta

I have always had nastursiums. They naturalize themselve and after they flower and turn to seed, pick and keep the seeds and plant in spring summer or fall.
Living in So. Cal, they are a constant cheerful plant.
You can use the flowers as a cake decoration or use them in salads to ear. Pungent, peppery, and always cheerful!

Dec
12
2012
Conifer lover
Conifer lover

I plant these every year alongside the yellow and orange Lantanas. They make a brilliant display together especially late in the season when everything has bushed out. Guaranteed color that lasts!

Dec
11
2012
tigerhearted
tigerhearted

Nasturtums! I love them so much. Tried planting them, and two days later something had eaten them all up :( This year I'm thinking of doing a hanging basket with Nasturtiums.

Mar
15
2012

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