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Watercess ~ Nasturtium officinale

~ Watercress ~

(Nasturtium officinale)

What a delight to find fresh watercress growing in the stream the other day, the perfect addition to our homegrown dinner.

This wild growing perennial plant in the brassicaceae family can be found growing in running water, and streams around NZ. Native to Eurasia it’s now found growing all over NZ and is popular for it’s fresh, peppery flavor. Best served fresh or in salads, it can also be cooked. It has a very strong flavor.

Cress is very nutritious, reputed to be rich in Vitamins A, B2, C, D, E, and minerals, including manganese, iron, phosphorus, iodine and calcium.

Cress has been used worldwide for generations for a long list of medicinal uses, including as a blood purifier, to clear the complexion & brighten the eyes, to treat coughs, colds, asthma & tuberculosis and even to prevent hair from falling out. Some more out there uses include as an oral contraceptive (please don’t rely on this info) and as an aphrodisiac.

You’ll find quite a few varities of cress growing in the wild in NZ, and they all have delicious flavor. The pictured variety is the popular Watercress/Nasturtium Officinale.

Always be wary of where you collect your watercress, as it will soak up any toxins or pollution in the stream. It’s really important to check your water source, especially if you are near any farmland.

Also note that Watercress latin name is Nasturtium Officinale – which is not the common garden variety of Nasturtium, whose common name is Tropaeolum majus.