23 Jan 2011


The nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), a favourite plant with both children and adults Worldwide, was originally from South America. It is also popular not only for it's pretty bright flowers, easy direct sowing and fast growing, but also as an edible flower. Other pluses are that they attract hummingbirds to the garden and have many natural beauty and medicinal properties.

Nasturtium leaves are rich in vitamin C and the seeds have a high iron and phosphorus content. They contain a sulphur compound which makes them an excellent anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic. In South America, especially Peru, they were used after battles to disinfect wounds. Nasturtiums were also used in the past to counteract scurvy and to treat any condition that stemmed from yeast or parasite problems. Many of us also learnt from childhood that chewing a nasturtium leaf at the first sign of a sore throat, helped to ease it.

The fresh juice of nasturtiums is known as an excellent treatment for alopecia (baldness caused by illness or stress), as it stimulates hair growth when rubbed in the scalp. A simple hair tonic is also made which is said to promote the growth of thick hair, it combines rum with nasturtium and nettle leaves. A tea made with nasturtium leaves and flowers make an excellent rinse for thin or oily hair. Soaking feet infected with athletes foot in a bowl strong infusion of nasturtium leaves and water has also shown good results.

Not suitable for pregnant women or those trying for a baby, as nasturtiums promote menstration.

Nasturtiums, being edible, are excellent to have on hand in every kitchen. The leaves and flowers have a peppery tang, and can be added to salads as a main ingredient or a pretty garnish. The seed pods can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers. During WW2 the seeds were actually ground and used as a substitute for black pepper. Used as companion plants in the vegetable garden, nasturtiums repel harmful insects and attract beneficial insects. So pick up a packet of nasturtium seeds and pop them in your garden, pots or window box and  with a bit of imagination you could even find more uses for them.
Strawberry-Nasturtium Salad
From Wen Zientek-Sico at Old Fashioned Living   
This unique salad is filled with delightful flavor and color. The sweetness of the strawberries is perfectly balanced by the pepperiness of the nasturtiums and spark of the vinegar for a salad that everyone will love. This salad should not be made too far in advance to prevent wilting of the nasturtium blossoms ~ Wen

1 pt / 2 cups / 450mls sliced strawberries
1/3 cup nasturtium blossoms
2 tbsps champagne vinegar
2-3 tbsps sugar

Toss together all of the ingredients. Taste the mixture, and adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet the strawberries are. Makes 4 servings.

Nasturtium Capers (1)
By Patricia Telesco with Jeanne P. Maack at Netplaces   
The flavor of the nasturtium is similar to capers and far less expensive. Note, however, that it’s essential to use the green pods because mature pods are unsuitable for consumption ~ Patricia

2 tbsps pickling salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup green nasturtium seed pods
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsps sugar
1 bay leaf
pinch thyme

Mix salt and water together with nasturtiums. Soak 3 days, making sure pods stay beneath water’s surface. Strain, put in a canning jar. Mix vinegar with remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Pour over pods. Cap and seal in a hot-water bath 10 minutes.

Nasturtium Capers (2)
From Mother Nature
Nasturtium buds to fill a 1 quart / 1 litre jar

1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp whole black pepper
6 cloves
1 quart / 1 litrevinegar

Stir buds in cold water, drain and repeat, then lay on a sieve to dry. Loosely fill a well-washed quart jar with buds, sprinkling in spices as you go. Fill the jar with vinegar and put on lid. Let sit 6 weeks before opening.

Nasturtium and Garlic Chive Flower Vinegar
By Maggie Oster at Herb Companion   

1/2 cup nasturtium flowers
1/2 cup garlic chive flowers
2 cups apple cider vinegar

Combine the nasturtium flowers, garlic chive flowers, and vinegar in a steeping container. Attach a lid. Set the container in a cool, dark place, shaking every couple of days. Taste after a week, then filter (or let it steep longer until the flavor is to your liking). Pour into bottles, cap tightly, seal if desired, and label. Add a few flowers to the bottle after straining. It will look pretty and remind you of the vinegar’s flavor.

Nasturtium Hair Tonic
From eHow    

2 handful nasturtium blossom and leaves
125mls / 4 fl ozs 80% alcohol
125mls / 4 fl ozs distilled water

Pour alcohol over herbs and let them soak for 2 weeks in a closable container. Filter it, fill it up with distilled water and fill it into a dark bottle. Use it daily. Not for blond hair!


Ram Bansal, the Theosoph said...

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kkrige said...

I love nasturtiam for their look and taste. They are peppery and delicious, and add a pretty accent to any salad.

who'sthatlady? said...

very good website

Cherelynn said...

pretty to look at, pretty to eat and make you feel pretty good too! thanks for sharing about these flowers!

Jan said...

Thanks for reminding me. I haven't grown them for years and I can't remember why.