As this is the month of Thanksgiving, I wanted to highlight a plant that I’m so grateful to have in the garden - Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus.) While not often thought of as medicinal, Nasturtium highlights that plants don’t like to be contained by a single role. This gorgeous plant is medicinal, culinary, ornamental, and a friend to pollinators and hummingbirds. Its beautiful flowers take salads and compound butters from boring to stunning; and its peppery leaves are reminiscent of radishes and add kick and flair to sandwiches.
Rich in vitamin C, author Maude Grieve tells us Nasturtium, “Is particularly valuable for its antiscorbutic qualities and has been used as such since earliest times.” [I totally had to look up antiscorbutic which means preventing and curing scurvy, ha!] Due to the presence of mustard oil compounds it is also antibacterial and a disinfectant. It was used as a specific for the treatment of tuberculosis prior to antibiotics. The seeds, which make fantastic pickles similar in taste to capers, were used to treat boils and sores. I even came across a reference to Nasturtium leaf in combination with Rosemary as a treatment for hair loss. All this locked up in a stunningly beautiful plant!
This is the time of year when my Nasturtium is visually at its peak. It has large, brightly colored flowers (typically yellow to orange) on rounded leaves and creeping trails. I have Nasturtium planted right outside the window where I enjoy my morning coffee (yes, I do drink coffee.) I routinely get lost in watching the dew collect and pool in its large leaves. As everything else in the garden begins to taper back Nasturtium plows forward gracing us with color and beauty. But you had better enjoy now as at first frost it will be over.
It is not uncommon for the kids in my neighborhood to grab a leaf or flower as a quick snack while playing outside. Nasturtium is equally fantastic as a centerpiece or part of the main meal, ha! Easily grown from seed I invite you all to consider finding a spot for Nasturtium to grace your garden next year. You’ll be glad you did! Green Blessings!
Balick, M. (2014). 21st century herbal. New York: Rodale.
Grieve, M. (1971). A modern herbal. New York: Dover.