Climbing annual growing to 10 ft (3 m). Has straggling stems, rounded leaves, and orange to yellow trumpet-shaped flowers with a long spur.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Peru, nasturtiums flourish in sunny sites. They are grown as an ornamental and as a salad herb. All parts of the plant are harvested in summer.
Flowers, leaves, seeds.
Nasturtiums contain glucosinolates, sulphur glycosides, glucotropaeolin, flavonoids, spilantolic acid, and iodide. Glucotropaeolin is converted into mustard oils by gut bacteria and acts as an antibiotic within the urinary and respiratory systems.
History & Folklore
The nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb, and as an expectorant to relieve chest conditions.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
All parts of the nasturtium appear to have antibiotic activity. An infusion of the leaves may be used to increase resistance to bacterial infections and to clear nasal and bronchial congestion—apparently the remedy both reduces congestion formation and stimulates the clearing and coughing up of phlegm. It can also prove useful in bacterial cystitis and it makes an effective antiseptic wash for external application.
The juice of the plant has been taken internally for the treatment of scrofula (tubercular infection of the lymph nodes). The piquant-tasting leaves and flowers (and juice) of nasturtium are high in vitamin C, and make a good salad vegetable, while the ground seeds have purgative properties.