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Lepidium sativum - L.                
                 
Common Name Cress
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Of uncertain origin, possibly Iran. Naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lepidium sativum is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Lepidium sativum Cress


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Vdegroot
Lepidium sativum Cress
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 166.
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Oil;  Oil.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Oil;  Oil.

Young leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 27, 34, 52, 183]. A hot cress-like flavour, it makes an excellent addition (in small quantities) to the salad bowl[K]. An analysis is available. Root is used as a condiment[46, 61]. A hot pungent flavour, but the root is rather small and woody[K]. The fresh or dried seedpods can be used as a pungent seasoning[183]. The seed can be sprouted in relatively low light until the shoots are a few centimetres long and then be used in salads[183]. They take about 7 days to be ready and have a pleasantly hot flavour. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[46, 61, 105].
Composition                                         
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 82.3%
  • Protein: 5.8g; Fat: 1g; Carbohydrate: 8.7g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 0g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 28.6mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 2970mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.11mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.17mg; Niacin: 1mg; B6: 0mg; C: 87mg;
  • Reference: [ 240]
  • Notes:
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiasthmatic;  Antiscorbutic;  Aperient;  Diuretic;  Galactogogue;  Poultice;  Stimulant;  Vitamin C.

The leaves are antiscorbutic, diuretic and stimulant[46, 240]. The plant is administered in cases of asthma, cough with expectoration and bleeding piles[240]. The root is used in the treatment of secondary syphilis and tenesmus[240]. The seeds are galactogogue. They have been boiled with milk and used to procure an abortion, they have been applied as a poultice to pains and hurts and have also been used as an aperient[240]. Fresh foliage has 37% Ascorbic acid - vitamin C
Other Uses
Oil;  Oil.

The seed yields up to 58% of an edible oil that can also be used for lighting[74].
Cultivation details                                         
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils[52]. For the best results, however, it requires a moist soil and also some shade during the summer to prevent it running straight to seed[27, 37, 52]. Garden cress is often cultivated as a sprouted seed, there are some named varieties[183]. It is the cress of 'mustard and cress'. A very easy and fast crop, it can be ready within 7 days from sowing the seed[27]. It can also be grown outdoors as full grown plants and can provide fresh leaves for the salad bowl all year round from successional sowings. Plants can be overwintered outdoors to provide edible leaves all year round, though they will require some protection if temperatures fall below -5°c[200]. This plant is cultivated in Ethiopia for the edible oil from its seed[183].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - if you want a succession of young leaves then it is possible to sow the seed in situ every 3 weeks in succession from early spring to early autumn. Germination is very rapid, usually taking place in less than a week. When sowing seed for use in mustard and cress, the seed is soaked for about 12 hours in warm water and then placed in a humid position. Traditionally, it is sown in a tray on a thin layer of soil, or on some moist blotting paper, and the tray is placed in a warm dark place for a few days to encourage rapid and rather etiolated growth. The seedlings can then be placed in a lighter position for a couple more days to turn green before being eaten. The cress seed should be sown about 3 - 4 days before the mustard for them both to be ready at the same time[264].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[5]Mabey. R. Food for Free.
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[34]Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[52]Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round.
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[264]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables
Excellent and easily read book with good information and an excellent collection of photos of vegetables from around the world, including many unusual species.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Dilip Jhala Tue Sep 8 2009
Please add Fatty Acid and Amino Acid compositon of the Fat and Protein of Lepidium sativum. Thanks. I am a Food Technologist of India.
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