A Week of Flowers 2022

Day Three: 2 December 2022: Exotic watercress

This year there were nasturtiums trailing over the edges of the raised beds, tumbling from pots in sheltered corners of the garden, rampaging through the the greenhouse and polytunnel, appearing in salads and overflowing from vases in the kitchen. They have made me smile and added glorious splashes of exuberant colour to the garden. Nasturtiums have always made an appearance in pots around the garden, but in 2021 when I had more garden than plants, I was profligate with the nasturtium seeds. The plants flourished and set seed, some of which I collected and some of which I left. So this year there was an explosion of nasturtium seedlings which just grew and flowered and produced more seed.

I have lost track of which variety is which, especially as they have now all been cross pollinated. I suspect I have a mixture of Empress of India, African Queen and Blue Pepe. The latter is a selected culinary variety with small round, bluish leaves and bright orange flowers; perfect for pot growth and producing small leaves for the kitchen.

As I was composing this post I realised that I’d forgotten the Latin name for nasturtiums, which send me down the curiosity rabbit hole in search of the botanical history of this exotic plant of South American origin. The problem started with the etymology of nasturtium, which is apparently from ” Old English nasturcium (“watercress”), from Latin nasturtium“. However, what we now call nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus or T. minus) were not introduced into Europe until the late 17th century. The confusion arises because watercress, which is a native plant, is botantically Nasturtium officinale. They are members of different families, but both have peppery leaves, which may give a clue to the common name. Going back to the etymology, the root of nasturtium is nasus and torquere, i.e. twisted nose. So possibly the literal name of “twisted nose” refers to a reaction to the peppery taste of the leaves.

13 thoughts on “A Week of Flowers 2022

  1. Haha, love the image of twisting your nose when eating the peppery leaves! Must be wonderful to have them flowering all over the place. Sadly the slugs and mice spoil mine but I will have to try growing some in a container next year as they are so cheerful! I am enjoying seeing your flowers Chris – see you again tomorrow I hope! 😉

    • Thank you Cathy. Nasturtium leaves can really liven-up a salad and produce a nose wrinkling moment. Your Week of Flowers challenge is great fun and has provided the impetus needed to get me back into writing about my eccentric garden.

  2. What a great history lesson about the name. I don’t have any in my garden at the moment, but they are lovely, I shall add them to my gardening wish list.

    • Hello Rosie, thank you for visiting my Outer Isles garden. nasturtiums are a great addition to any garden, even if it is just a pot by the back door.

  3. Thanks for sharing the info from your botanical search.

    • Thank you Linda. Plants are part of our culture and there is so much more to discover beyond how to create a beautiful garden. I admired the wonderful plants featured on your blog as part of Cathy’s Week of Flowers.

  4. Eliza

    I find a few leaves go a long way in a salad. Some may like the spiciness, but it can overwhelm! Always a pretty addition to the annual garden. I particularly like the variegated leaves.

    • The peppery leaves can be over powering and are not to everyones taste – hence the “nose twisting” name. However, I do like the colour of the flowers.

  5. What a fascinating post Christine, with the origin of the name – always good to add a new snippet of information to our busy brains!

    • Thank you Cathy. Perhaps my posts should carry a health warning about “nerdy botanists”, but helps me remeber the names of plants, but not where I put the car keys!

      • Haha – we are who we are, I suppose, with our little quirks and idiosyncracies 😉

        • You have been putting up with them for so long, I think you deserve an award!

          • 🤣

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