NASTURTIUM: The Beautiful Antibiotic

Family: Tropaeolaceae

Genus: Tropaeolum

Species: Tropaeolum majus

Common Names: Common Nasturtium, Garden Nasturtium, Indian Cress,

It is a herbaceous annual plant with trailing stems growing to 1 meter long Leaves are large, circular with distinct veins, 3 to 15 cm in diameter, flowers are 3-6 cm diameter, with five petals, eight stamens, and  long nectar spur at the rear; they vary from yellow to orange to red, often darker at the base of the petals. The fruit is 2 cm broad, three-segmented, each segment with a single large seed. Native to South America, today it is cultivated worldwide as an ornamental and medical plant.

Nasturtium plant prefer poor, dry soils and do well in both sun or semi-shade, so plant nasturtiums where other flowers and vegetables would be unsuccessful. Can be trained to grow vertically or cascade down from hanging baskets and other containers. Cutting off the faded flowers will prolong blooming. If you’re growing nasturtium in containers, they may need to be trimmed back occasionally over the growing season. If you don’t pick all the flowers, they will self-seed profusely and provide you with loads of free plants

CULINARY USE: All part of the plant are edible; in the world of edible annual flowers, Nasturtiums are one of the tastiest and easiest to grow. For salads, harvest nasturtium flower buds, flowers, and young leaves in the cool of the morning when flowers have just opened. Gently wash and dry the flowers and leaves and use immediately or store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Flowers with their mild peppery taste are great for adding character and color to dishes. Freeze into ice cubes to create a pretty addition for summery drinks. added to raw apple cider vinegar to make a peppery nasturtium vinegar or chopped and mixed with softened butter to make nasturtium butter. You can also stir-fries nasturtium leaves and flowers, make a pesto for your pasta, steam and cooked as would cook spinach. The unripe green seed pods are spicy and can be eaten raw or pickled in vinegar or salt water to be used as substitute to capers.  The dried seeds can be ground down to use as a pepper or pressed to make an oil.

MEDICINAL USE: Nasturtium is a good source of immunity-boosting vitamin C and may be used as a natural remedy for helping the body overcome and prevent the common cold and flu. This plant has many herbal medicinal uses and the plant has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic qualities. In South America it is used as a disinfectant, expectorant and wound healer. All parts of the plant seem to have strong antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, promoting the formation of red blood cells, this herb is used primarily as an herbal remedy for urinary tract infections.

Nasturtiums are not only beautiful and edible, they have health benefits as well. The leaves are high in vitamin C and also have strong anti-bacterial and anti-tumor properties. Tea made from the leaves is a common preventative for colds and flu.

 


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