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Nasturtium x sterile - (Airy-Shaw.) Oefel.

Common Name Brown Watercress
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Whilst the plant is very wholesome and nutritious, some care should be taken if harvesting it from the wild. Any plants growing in water that drains from fields where animals, particularly sheep, graze should not be used raw. This is due to the risk of it being infested with the liver fluke parasite[5, 244]. Cooking the leaves, however, will destroy any parasites and render the plant perfectly safe to eat[244].
Habitats Stream margins, ditches, flushes etc with moving water[17, 27], usually in chalk or limestone areas[52].
Range Western Britain in Britain and France.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Nasturtium x sterile Brown Watercress


Nasturtium x sterile Brown Watercress

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Nasturtium x sterile is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to October, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

Synonyms

Habitats

 Pond;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 7, 9, 16, 27]. Water cress is mainly used as a garnish or as an addition to salads, the flavour is strong with a characteristic hotness[183]. It has a reputation as a spring tonic, and this is its main season of use, though it can be harvested for most of the year and can give 10 pickings annually[238]. Some caution is advised if gathering the plant from the wild, see the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are exceptionally rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron[200]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

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.

Antiscorbutic;  Depurative;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Hypoglycaemic;  Miscellany;  Odontalgic;  Purgative;  
Stimulant;  Stomachic;  TB.

Watercress is very rich in vitamins and minerals, and has long been valued as a food and medicinal plant[254]. Considered a cleansing herb, its high content of vitamin C makes it a remedy that is particularly valuable for chronic illnesses[254]. The leaves are antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic, stimulant and stomachic[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 222, 238]. The plant has been used as a specific in the treatment of TB[4]. The freshly pressed juice has been used internally and externally in the treatment of chest and kidney complaints, chronic irritations and inflammations of the skin etc[9]. Applied externally, it has a long-standing reputation as an effective hair tonic, helping to promote the growth of thick hair[244]. A poultice of the leaves is said to be an effective treatment for healing glandular tumours or lymphatic swellings[244]. Some caution is advised, excessive use of the plant can lead to stomach upsets[9, 21]. The leaves can be harvested almost throughout the year and are used fresh[238].

Other Uses

Hair;  Miscellany.

The juice of the plant is a nicotine solvent and is used as such on strong tobaccos[7].

Cultivation details

Watercress is easily grown when given the correct conditions of slowly flowing clean water, preferably coming from chalky or limestone soils[264]. It prefers to grow in water about 5cm deep[37] with an optimum pH 7.2[200]. Plants can be grown in wet soil if the position is somewhat shaded and protection is given in winter, though the flavour may be hotter[27, 37]. Hardy to about -15°c[200]. Brown watercress is often cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties[16, 183]. The plant is very sensitive to pollution so a clean source of water is required[200]. Plants will often continue to grow all through mild winters. A fast-growing plant, the stems trail along the ground or float in water and produce new roots at the leaf nodes, thus making the plant very easy to propagate vegetatively[238]. Unfortunately, virus diseases have become more common in cultivated plants and so this species is seldom cultivated at present[264]. This is a sterile hybrid, so does not form seed. It has been produced in the wild by natural hybridisation between the diploid species N. officinale and the triploid N. microphyllum[264]. The flowers are a rich source of pollen and so are very attractive to bees[7].

Propagation

Cuttings can be taken at any time in the growing season. Virtually any part of the plant, including a single leaf, will form roots if detached from the parent plant[56]. Just put it in a container of water until the roots are well formed and then plant out in shallow water.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Nasturtium microphyllumWatercress, Onerow yellowcress31
Nasturtium officinaleWatercress43
Tropaeolum majusNasturtium, Indian Cress43
Tropaeolum minusDwarf Nasturtium43

 

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Expert comment

Author

(Airy-Shaw.) Oefel.

Botanical References

200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Minnie Whitten   Tue Aug 12 2008

I have a lithgraph by E. Hecht that is entitled Nicotine Nasturtium. I features a floral arrangement with ablack background. The trademark show M & B and on the back it says it was lithgraphed in the USA the Morris and Bendien Inc. N.Y. Is this lithograph of any value? the number is 10306. you may reach me at [email protected] Minnie Whitten

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