Nasturtium

Botanical Name:Tropaelum majus
Family: Tropaeolaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Genus: Tropaeolum
Species: T. majus
Common Names:
English: Nasturtium, Common nasturtium, Garden nasturtium, Indian cress
Esperanto: Tropeolo, Granda tropeolo
Finnish: Koristekrassi, Köynnöskrassi
French:   Capucine, Cresson d’Inde
German: Kapuzinerkresse, Indische Kresse

Habitat:A native of Peru.  Originating in South America in the Andes from Bolivia north to Colombia. It is of cultivated, probably hybrid origin, with possible parent species including T. minus, T. moritzianum, T. peltophorum, and T. peregrinum.

Description:
NASTURTIUM Flower showing nectar spur   is a herbaceous annual plant with trailing stems growing to 1 m long or more. The leaves are large, nearly circular, 3-15 cm diameter, green to glaucous green above, paler below; they are peltate, with the 5-30 cm long petiole near the middle of the leaf, with several veins radiating to the smoothly rounded or slightly lobed margin. The flowers are 2.5–6 cm diameter, with five petals, eight stamens, and a 2.5–3 cm long nectar spur at the rear; they vary from yellow to orange to red, frilled and often darker at the base of the petals. The fruit is 2 cm broad, three-segmented, each segment with a single large seed 1–1.5 cm long

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
. It is easily recognised by its large, round peltate leaves. (Peltate means that the leaf stalk is attached near the middle of the bottom of the leaf, instead of the edge of the leaf.) It grows sprawling along the ground or as a climber. Nasturtiums have brightly coloured flowers in variations of yellow, orange and red when growing in the sun.

Cultivation :
THEY ARE easy to grow from seed, and once established in the garden nasturtiums will self seed freely. Seeds can be sown in situ, where they are to grow, at intervals of about 20cm apart. Sandy soil is preferred and they like a damp spot, so for best results, they should be well watered.

It is widely cultivated, both as an ornamental plant and as a medicinal plant.Garden Nasturtiums are grown for their flowers, and also because both their leaves and flowers are edible; they can be used in salads, imparting a delicately peppery taste. The seeds are also edible, and can be used as a caper substitute.
It is listed as invasive in several areas, including Hawaii, Lord Howe Island, and New Zealand.

Uses :
THE LEAVES as well as the colourful petals are used to brighten salads and the pickled seeds are used as a substitute for capers. Medicinally the leaves are chewed to relieve a sore throat as well as being used for their antiseptic properties in poultices for wounds. Nasturtium can be used as a decoy in the garden to attract aphids and whitefly away from other crops

Medicinal Uses:
It is a culinary as well as a medicinal herb  and  is used in   Indian herbal medicine. All parts of the plant posses an antibiotic and vitamin C. Taken internally, it stimulates coughing and reduces phlegm production. Applied externally, it is antiseptic.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Lepi_sat.html
http://www.dispatch.co.za/2002/09/21/features/GARDENSS.HTM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaeolum_majus

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