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Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Nasturtium - Edible Flower

While most edible flowers have a subtle flavor, nasturtiums knock your socks off with their peppery taste. Plus, it's not just the flowers and buds that are packed with a zippy flavor; the young leaves are tender and edible as well.

Nasturtiums are scrambling and clambering plants that grow well through existing hedges and on fences, screens and trellis. They’ll also head on up your bean poles and decorate your Sweetcorn plantation with their bright, open-faced flowers that are great for attracting bees, butterflies and beneficial predatory insects into the garden. Colours range from yellow and orange to red and a rich deep chocolatey-red.

As well as brightening up the garden their leaves and flowers make a decorative, peppery addition to salads. Nasturtiums are annual plants that flower, set seed and die all in one season. In warmer areas these clambering fast growers can turn into bit of a perennial thug, growing on through milder frost-free winters and overpowering small shrubs, hedges and seedling plants. Nasturtiums will be killed by frost and so they don’t pose such an invasive threat in cooler parts of the country. Nasturtiums are particularly handy around the edges of the vegetable garden or planted in beds to grow as decoration on wigwams of bamboo canes.  In addition to attracting beneficial insects, nasturtiums are often colonized by black aphids – especially yellow flowered varieties - and cabbage white caterpillars so you can plants them as decoy plants to draw pests away from your food plants and deal with any infestations by ripping up affected plants and destroying them.

Health and medicinal benefits

Both the leaves and petals of the nasturtium plant are packed with nutrition, containing high levels of vitamin C. It has the ability to improve the immune system, tackling sore throats, coughs, and colds, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.These plants also contain high amounts of manganese, iron, flavonoids, and beta carotene.Studies have shown that the leaves also have antibiotic properties, and suggest that they are the most effective prior to flowering.Nasturtium is used in traditional medicine, treating a wide range of illnesses and conditions, such as hair loss.Add some nasturtium to your diet today, either in your food, or on it! Nasturtium is the star of the show in this recipe for baby greens with roasted beets and potatoes:

If you are going to use Nasturtium to treat an existing health condition please consult with your healthcare provider first.