Other Names: Brooklime, Brown Cress, Cress, Cresson, Nasturtium, Water Cresses,
True Watercress, Watercress,
Habitat: (Nasturtium officinale) Perennial herb, wide spread, there is some
question as to whether or not True Watercress is native. Found growing in open running
watercourses or near cool shallow springs, spring holes, spring fed stream margins, and
brooks. Cultivation: Watercress is fairly easy to cultivate, it prefers
to grow in cool, flowing, water about 2 to 3 inches deep, in a partially shaded area. Sow
seed spring in a pot emerged to half its depth in water. Cuttings can be taken at any time
in the growing season. Virtually any part of the plant, put it in a container of water
until the roots are well formed and then plant out in shallow water. A fast-growing plant,
the flowers are a rich source of pollen and so are very attractive to bees. Watercress
differs from all other mustards by its alternate, pinnately compound leaves with 3-11
oblong to oval leaflets, shiny, dark green, rounded at the tip, smooth, without teeth or
with wavy-toothed margins. Creeping or floating stems, succulent or fleshy, smooth, with
fibrous roots, rooting occurs anywhere along the submerged stem mostly at the nodes.
Flowers are white with 4 petals about 1/6-1/4 inch across, in terminal racemes and in
racemes from the axils of the uppermost leaves. Flowers bloom from April thru June. Gather
edible fresh green leaves anytime. Avoid plants growing in water that drains from fields
where animals, particularly sheep, graze. Due to the risk of it being infested with the
deadly liver fluke parasite. If unsure, cooking the leaves, will destroy any parasites and
render the plant perfectly safe to eat.
Properties: Watercress is edible, exceptionally rich in vitamins and minerals, and has
long been valued as a food and medicinal plant. A mildly hot mustardy flavor, very good
fresh in salad or on a sandwich or cooked as a pot herb. The seed is ground into a powder
and used as a mustard. As a medicinal herb Watercress is used in alternative medicine as
an antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, hypoglycaemic, odontalgic,
stimulant, tonic and stomachic. Culpepper says that the leaves bruised or the juice will
free the face from blotches, spots and blemishes, when applied as a lotion. Other plant
constituents such as Arginine, Aspartic-acid, Beta-carotene, Biotin, Folacin,
Glutamic-acid, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Pantothenic-acid,
Phenylalanine, Serine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Valine, indicate that this
plant may be useful for many other conditions. Further research needs to be done.
Considered a cleansing herb, its high content of vitamin C makes it a remedy that is
particularly valuable for chronic illnesses. The plant has been used as a specific in the
treatment of tuberculosis. The freshly pressed juice has been used internally and
externally in the treatment of chest and kidney complaints. A medicinal poultice of the
leaves is said to be an effective treatment for healing glandular tumours or lymphatic
swellings and chronic irritations and inflammations of the skin.
HERE TO FIND MANY WATERCRESS PRODUCTS!
Folklore: The ancient Greek general, and the Persian King Xerxes ordered their soldiers
to eat it to keep them healthy. The Greeks additionally believed that "Eating cress
makes one witty". Applied externally, it has a long-standing reputation as an
effective hair tonic, helping to promote the growth of thick hair.