Nasturtium is an herbaceous plant used in traditional medicine in places like South America, at least since 1500.
What’s a good nasturtium for? Traditional uses of these plants include the preparation of tea and tonic to relieve sore throats and colds, and even the use of flowers, seeds and leaves as natural antibiotics for the treatment of internal infections.
Recent research has shown that nasturtium has many healing properties due to its content of antioxidants, vitamins, trace elements and biologically active compounds that can support the immune, respiratory and digestive systems.
What is nasturtium?
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum) is a genus of 80 species of herbaceous plants of the family Tropaeolaceae/Brassicaceae. The best known species of trapeoelation are T. majus, T. min, T. peregrinum and T. speciosum.
The species most people refer to when they say that nasturtium is Tropaeolum majus L., a species most often studied in scientific research.
Nasturtium is native to South and Central America. It was mentioned by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who thought the petals looked like Roman trophy poles (trophies). According to Urban Cultivator, Linneus thought the leaves looked like shields and the red flowers like bloody helmets.
Because this plant family includes many different species, the flowers are varied in colour, including bright yellow, orange and red. Nasturtiums have lush, round leaves and large flowers that fall and stand out in gardens.
Can we eat nasturtiums? Yes, almost all parts of this plant are edible.
The leaves are described by many as beautiful and tasty, such as watercress and mustard green. Nasturtiums, described as edible flowers, sometimes appear in recipes.
The stems and seeds of nasturtiums are just as edible and nutritious as the roots and tubes that some nasturtium species grow underground.
Here are some of the other notable benefits of nasturtium:
1. Good source of vitamin C
The green leaves and nasturtium flowers are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamin C. According to some studies, the flowers contain about 130 milligrams of vitamin C per 3.5 ounces, which is comparable to dense, nutritious parsley.
Moreover, trapajola plants are a good source of basic nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, zinc and iron.
2. Rich in antioxidants including lutein
Where these plants shine, they have an impressive supply of an antioxidant called lutein, which is associated with protection against free radical damage and support for healthy eyes and skin. Nasturtiums may contain up to 45 milligrams of lutein per 100 grams, which is considered one of the highest levels of all edible plants/areas.
It has been proven that plants of the Tropaeolaceae family also have high ORAC values and contain trace elements and biologically active compounds that are easily absorbed by the human body. Flowers and other parts of plants contain not only essential vitamins and minerals, but also bioflavonoids (such as myricacetin, quercetin and camphora derivatives) and beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A).
The antioxidant activity of these plants seems to be related to a high content of compounds such as anthocyanins, polyphenols and vitamin C. This makes them useful for the treatment of diseases of the respiratory and digestive systems and the skin in local applications.
Ericic acid, a kind of omega-9 fatty acid, is another useful compound found in nasturtium seeds. It acts as a natural lubricant and can be used in dermatology to treat the symptoms of the skin and hair as it has a moisturizing and soothing effect.
3 May have natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
According to several studies, essential oils (extracted from flowers and leaves) and compounds isolated from different parts of these plants have natural antimicrobial, antifungal, hypotensive, expectorant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
Studies have shown that the leaves have special natural antibiotic properties that can help people cope with diseases and infections such as respiratory tract infections, stagnation, coughing, bronchitis and colds. In traditional herbal medicine, certain species are also used for the treatment of urinary tract infections.
In Germany, registered doctors can even prescribe an herbal antibiotic made from nasturtiums and horseradish to treat acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis and acute urinary tract infections.
Part of the antibacterial effect of these plants is due to the presence of essential oils such as myristine, α terpinols and lemon oil, the main constituents found in the stems, seeds and leaves. Studies have shown that these compounds have a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect and appear to be able to fight various diseases.
Nasturtium can be used in the same way as green microflowers and other edible flowers – for example, in salads, for pesto, on pizzas and sandwiches and even as cake decorations.
This plant is also used in the preparation of herbal teas, which are both moisturizing and a good source of certain nutrients.
Nasturtium seeds (which grow in pods) are also combined with vinegar and herbs to create a spicy herb and garnish that tastes like capers and can be used in the same way.
One species, Mashua T. tuberosum, produces an edible underground tuber, which is the main crop in parts of the Andes.
How does nasturtium taste? It has a slightly peppery taste, resembling mustard, but less pungent.
The taste is also similar to watercress, so in most recipes it can be replaced by watercress.
To add both color and a dose of nutrients, try these recipes with nasturtiums:
- Prepare a nasturtium pesto of flowers, with garlic, butter, lemon juice, pine nuts and salt, all mixed in a kitchen mix.
- Experiment with different nasturtium leaves on sandwiches as a substitute for mustard.
- Use the leaves instead of watercress in salads and as a colourful side dish.
- Try them in a deep fryer with old vegetables or in cold soups.
- Nasturtium leaves with cheese, garlic and herbs.
- Add a few leaves to freshly squeezed green juices or cocktails (until you find the taste too strong).
Do you want to grow nasturtiums in your house? Here are some frequently asked questions and tips:
Do the nasturtiums come back every year?
Yeah, some guys. There are annuals and perennials of this plant, so it depends on the species you grow.
Most people grow T. majus, T. minus and T. peltophorum (or a hybrid of these plants) from nasturtium as an annual at home. They are usually grown from seed as a semi-hard annual.
What types of plants can I grow in my house?
Cream, yellow, orange and red varieties can be grown at home, but also varieties with coloured lines and dark spots.
Where should I put them?
The path is considered to be a power plant and is relatively easy to grow if they have access to large amounts of sunlight. They can be grown in poor, dry conditions as well as in richer/humid soils, but this usually leads to a decrease in the number of flowers.
Some species even withstand very high color temperatures and higher altitudes, such as those native to colder regions of Chile.
They can be grown as shrubs, planted close to other areas and used to cover fences and fences. Many of them climb on the plants to divide them and mix them with other plants in the neighborhood.
How fast do nasturtiums grow?
It depends on the species. Some are known to stay underground for a year or more before flowering, while others grow faster.
Species originating from coastal areas usually develop in winter, while species originating from high lying areas develop mainly in summer. Most species grow best from seeds at cool temperatures and should start germinating within about a month.
Risks and side effects
Although these plants are generally considered safe to use, their consumption or application to the skin can cause problems for people who are sensitive to their effects.
Vegetable essential oils can irritate the skin, especially when used frequently, in large quantities and for long periods of time.
If you take flowers, seeds or leaves in the form of tea or in the mouth, pay attention to side effects such as indigestion. Stop using this herb if you experience stomach problems, changes in urination and thirst, signs of allergies or other side effects.
- Nasturtium is a genus of flowering herbaceous plants with large, glossy flowers and large green leaves.
- Leaves, flowers and seeds are edible and are good sources of nutrients, including antioxidants such as lutein, vitamin C, manganese and others.
- Nasturtium recipes include homemade stamps, salads with edible flowers, sandwiches and decorative cakes. The flowers can be used to add colour and nutrients to recipes, and the leaves can be used to bite peppers such as mustard.