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Tropaeolum majus

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Tropaeolum majus (garden nasturtium, Indian cress, or monks cress) is a flowering plant in the family Tropaeolaceae, originating in the Andes from Bolivia north to Colombia. The species has become naturalized in parts of the United States (California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia),<ref name=":0">Flora of North America v 7 p 166</ref><ref>Template:Cite web</ref> as well as parts of Europe, such as Gibraltar,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and Asia, Africa and Australia.<ref name=":0" /> It is of cultivated, probably hybrid origin, with possible parent species including T. minus, T. moritzianum, T. peltophorum, and T. peregrinum.<ref name="grin">Template:GRIN</ref><ref name="rhs">Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan Template:ISBN.</ref> It is not closely related to the genus Nasturtium (which includes watercress).

Description

It is a herbaceous annual plant with trailing stems growing to 3 to 5.8 ft long or more. The leaves are large, nearly circular, Template:Convert 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.<ref name=jeps>Jepson Flora: Tropaeolum majus</ref><ref name=pier>Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Tropaeolum majus</ref>

Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen

Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen, or the Elizabeth Linnæus Phenomenon, is the name given to the phenomenon of "flashing flowers".<ref>H. W. "Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen (sogenanntes Blitzen der Blüten) und seine Deutungen", Nature (nature.com). Retrieved 4 May 2013.</ref> Especially at dusk, the orange flowers may appear to emit small "flashes". Once believed to be an electrical phenomenon, it is today thought to be an optical reaction in the human eye caused by the contrast between the orange flowers and the surrounding green. The phenomenon is named after Elisabeth Christina von Linné, one of Carl Linnaeus's daughters, who discovered it at age 19.<ref name="odla-20130429">"Försenad jätteplantering till Malmös schlagerfest, expert varnar för kalkning och kogödsel på påse", Odla med P1, Sveriges Radio, 29 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013. (in Swedish)</ref>

Cultivation and uses

Roses and Nasturtiums in a Vase by Henri Fantin-Latour

It is widely cultivated, both as an ornamental plant and as a medicinal plant.

It is listed as invasive in several areas, including Hawaii, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand.<ref name=pier/>

Culinary

Salad with flowers and leaves

All its parts are edible. The flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient; it has a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of watercress, and is also used in stir fry. The flowers contain about 130 mg vitamin C per Template:Convert,<ref name=PFAF>Template:Cite web</ref> about the same amount as is contained in parsley.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> Moreover, they contain up to 45 mg of lutein per 100 gr,<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> which is the highest amount found in any edible plant. The unripe seed pods can be harvested and dropped into spiced vinegar to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Ecology

The garden nasturtium is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Dot Moth<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the Garden Carpet Moth.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> A common pest found on nasturtiums is the caterpillar of the Large White or Cabbage White Butterfly.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Companion plants

Template:See also Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful companion plants. They repel a great many cucurbit pests, like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars. They have a similar range of benefits for brassica plants, especially broccoli and cauliflower. They also serve as a trap crop against black fly aphids. They also attract beneficial predatory insects.

References

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