Nasturtium 101

COMMON NAME:  nasturtium
GENUS: Tropaeolum
SPECIES: T.major; T. minor
FAMILY: Tropaeolaceae
BLOOMS: summer
TYPE: annual
DESCRIPTION:  Very colorful, five-petaled blossoms grow on short or trailing plants. The leaves are round and attractive. Blossom colors include red, pink, and yellow and hues in between.
CULTIVATION:  Nasturtiums are very adaptable and can grow in poor soils and under drought conditions. They need well-drained soil and plenty of hot sunshine.

The genus name, Tropaeolum, is a Greek word meaning “to twine” and is descriptive of the growth habit of many species within this genus. Another possible explanation for the origin of this name is the Greek word for trophy, tropaion, for to some people the flowers looked like a Roman helmet or round shield.
T. minor, first found growing in Mexico and Peru, has been in cultivation since the middle of the sixteenth century. Nicolas Monardes, a physician from Seville who wrote the first herbal about New World plants {Joyfull Newes Out of the Newe Founde Worlde}, introduced nasturtiums to England in 1574. He called them Flowers of Blood, a translation of their Spanish name. Because of the tartness of the leaves, the English called this new plant Indian cress. Its larger cousin, the T. major, was not introduced to the garden until over a hundred years later. Other common names included canary flower, yellow larkspur, and lark’s heel.
The name nasturtium is from Latin words meaning “nose twister.”
Pickled-nasturtium-seeds-recipe-Poor-Mans-Capers-Decorators-Notebook-blog-5Nasturtiums have been used extensively for their taste and medicinal value. Sailors took barrels of pickled seeds on long voyages and ate them to combat scurvy. The pickled seeds were eaten like capers. Eating nasturtium blossoms was said to soften the muscles, or keep them from getting stiff. Oil from the seeds was rubbed on the body after exercising for this same purpose.
Eating nasturtiums are still popular today. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, and the blossoms serve as colorful holders for dips or sandwich fillers.

To make Stuffed Nasturtiums, mix together 8 ounces of cream cheese, one small can of drained crushed pineapple, and 1/4 cup of chopped pecans {or walnuts}.
      Form this mixture into small balls and carefully stuff each ball into a large, firm nasturtium blossom.

nasturtium cordialNasturtium Cordial

Nasturtium cordial is a stunning and refreshing summer drink when diluted with sparkling water and can also be used as a syrup for flavoring cocktails etc.

200grms of organic caster sugar

225ml of water

50 nasturtium flowers

large sprig of lemon thyme or lemon verbena (a small piece of finely chopped ginger is also a great addition)

a squeeze of lemon juice

Pop all the ingredients (except the lemon juice) into a pan and gently bring to the boil stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Cover, take off the heat and allow to sit for until completely cold and then strain out the flowers and herbs.

Decanted into a clean sterile bottle and the cordial will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

4 thoughts on “Nasturtium 101

  1. Another of my very versatile and cheerful. Love your photos. I always think of them as preferring cooler weather. Mine languish when it gets hot and fry if too close to the sidewalk, but perk up when cooler autumn comes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You! One of my favorites too. I have to keep close eye on our’s during the summer as well. Living in the high desert of Utah can take its toll on plants in the summer. I make sure that they receive early morning sun light, then as the day progresses the shade from the house and or barns minimize heat exhaustion.


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