AskDefine | Define nasturtium

Dictionary Definition

nasturtium

Noun

1 any tropical American plant of the genus Tropaeolum having pungent juice and long-spurred yellow to red flowers
2 aquatic herbs [syn: genus Nasturtium]
3 flowers and seeds and leaves all used as flavorings

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

  • /næsˈtʌːtɪəm/

Noun

  1. The popular name of the Tropaeolum genus of flowering plants native to south and central America.

Quotations

  • 1922, Katherine Mansfield, At The Bay, Selected Stories, Oxford World's Classics paperback 2002, page 281
    Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves.

Translations

Extensive Definition

Nasturtium (literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), as a common name, refers to a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants Tropaeolum ("Trophy"), one of three genera in the family Tropaeolaceae. It should not be confused with the Watercresses of the genus Nasturtium, of the Mustard family. This genus, native to South and Central America, includes several very popular garden plants, the most commonly grown being T. majus, T. peregrinum and T. speciosum. The hardiest species is T. polyphyllum from Chile, the perennial roots of which can survive underground when air temperatures drop as low as -15°C (5°F).
They have showy, often intensely bright flowers (the intense color can make macrophotography quite difficult), and rounded, peltate (shield-shaped) leaves with the petiole in the center. The flowers have five petals (sometimes more), a three-carpelled ovary, and a funnel-shaped nectar tube in the back.
Tropaeolum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Dot Moth and Garden Carpet. A very common "pest" found on Nasturtium in particular is the caterpillar of the Large White (Cabbage White) Butterfly.
The Nasturtiums receive their name from the fact that they produce an oil that is similar to that produced by Watercress (Nasturtium officinale), from the family Brassicaceae.

Cultivation and uses

In cultivation, most varieties of nasturtiums prefer to be grown in direct or indirect sunlight, with a few preferring partial shade.
The most common use of the nasturtium plant in cultivation is as an ornamental flower. It grows easily and prolifically, and is a self-seeding annual.
It is also edible, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient, and is used in stir fry. All parts of the plant are edible, not just the flower and leaves. The flowers can be added to salads for an exotic look and taste; they have a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of Watercress. The unripe seed pods can be harvested and pickled with hot vinegar, to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers, although the taste is strongly peppery. The mashua (T. tuberosum) produces an edible underground tuber that is a major food source in parts of the Andes.
Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful companion plants. They repel a great many cucurbit pests, like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars. They had a similar range of benefits for brassica plants, especially broccoli and cauliflower. They also attract black fly aphids, and are sometimes planted in the hope of saving crops susceptible to them. They may also attract beneficial, predatory insects.

Species

External links

nasturtium in Bulgarian: Латинка
nasturtium in Danish: Tropaeolum
nasturtium in German: Kapuzinerkresse
nasturtium in Spanish: Tropaeolum
nasturtium in French: Grande capucine
nasturtium in Hebrew: כובע הנזיר
nasturtium in Dutch: Oost-Indische kers
nasturtium in Japanese: キンレンカ
nasturtium in Lithuanian: Nasturtiniai
nasturtium in Polish: Nasturcja większa
nasturtium in Russian: Настурция
nasturtium in Finnish: Koristekrassit
nasturtium in Chinese: 旱金莲属
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