What Is Watercress?

What is watercress? It has a pleasant peppery flavor that spices up salads and in soups are delicious. You can grow your own watercress in a jar.

Scientific name: Nasturtium Officinale (Roripa Nasturtium Aquaticum, Radicula Nasturtium Aquaticum)

Other names: Tall Nasturtium

Watercress is from the Cruciferae or mustard family. Its natural habitat is Europe and Asia Minor where it grows by spring , flat banks, wet meadows and ditches. Watercress, a perennial, grows wild in America and starts to sprout in the spring. The plant is bright green in color and leaves grow from nodules along the main stem. They are roundish oval in shape and the white flowers bloom in early summer and grow on tips of stems in loose clusters. The name nasturtium is derived from the Latin words nasus tortus which means convulsed nose, referring to the smell.

Watercress contains sulphurous essential oil, oil of mustard, glycosides, vitamin A, iodine, calcium and lots of vitamin C. Its leaves and stems have a peppery flavor and are mostly eaten raw in western countries, usually in salads and sandwiches. In eastern countries, watercress is cooked in clear broth soups. Watercress is sold in supermarkets with its leaves wrapped in plastic and the roots placed in a shallow tray of water. If you would like to grow some of your own, take one or two from the bunch you bought at the market and place in a jar of water. It will take about ten days to start sprouting and then transplant it to a pot and keep it in under some shade. Place the pot in a saucer of water and change the water every day. Some people have had success growing the plant in a container of water. Trim the plant often to encourage growth of new shoots.

Medicinal uses: Ancient Greeks believed that watercress helps a person maintain their witticism and health. Watercress soup was drunk by the English in the 18th century to cleanse the body and to cure headaches.

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