Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

Common names: Watercress

Taxonomic name: Nasturtium officinale

Family: Brassicaceae

Uses:  Food, general immune system booster, colds and flu, antiseptic, digestive and expectorant, skin.

Area of origin: Europe and Asia

Warnings: can have quite a bite

Watercress is quite invasive.
Watercress is quite invasive.

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) isn’t to be confused with the garden Nasturtium (Trapeolum majus) even though its Genus name is the same as the latter’s common name. This is just a bit of confusion but it’s due to the fact that both have quite a mustardy bite. ‘Nasturtium’ comes from Latin in which it means \literally ‘to twist the nose’. Both plants are related, being in the Cabbage Family, Brassicaceae.

Watercress has small white and green flowers.
Watercress has small white and green flowers.

Watercress is highly nutritious and is especially high in vitamins A, C and K. One cup of Watercress has 106% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. Many of the nutrients packed into it are powerful antioxidants which reduce the chance of several types of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The antioxidants and vitamin K are enormously beneficial for clotting and the health of blood vessels. Watercress is also found to lower cholesterol. It is full of minerals too, especially those which contribute to bone health. Nearly everything about this plant contributes to a much healthier and responsive immune system.

Once Watercress sets seed, you've got it for life.
Once Watercress sets seed, you’ve got it for life.

Herbally, Watercress is useful when it comes to boosting our immune system. As mentioned above, it is quite a tonic as well as containing compounds which directly fight colds and flu. It should be eaten, fresh in any case of illness where improved digestion can be of assistance (and that’s pretty well anything)!

Like many other Brassicas, Watercress is high in Sulphur.which helps in protein absorption and cell building, especially skin cells.

Watercress can be quite invasive in the garden. Once it’s set seed, you’ll find it popping up everywhere. That’s not such a bad thing, though, as it is so useful.

It is a sprawling plant with hollow stems that allow it to float. It has lobed leaves and green and yellow clusters of flowers. The main way to make sure that you have Watercress is by its bite if you nibble on a leaf.

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