Tropaeolum majus

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Tropaeolum majus
Flower and foliage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Tropaeolaceae
Genus: Tropaeolum
Species: T. majus
Binomial name
Tropaeolum majus
L.
Synonyms[1][2]
  • Cardamindum majus (L.) Moench
  • Nasturtium indicum Garsault
  • Tropaeolum elatum Salisb.
  • Tropaeolum hortense Sparre
  • Tropaeolum hybridum L.
  • Tropaeolum pinnatum Andrews
  • Tropaeolum quinquelobum Bergius
  • Trophaeum majus (L.) Kuntze

Tropaeolum majus (garden nasturtium, Indian cress or monks cress) is a flowering plant in the family Tropaeolaceae, originating in the Andes from Bolivia north to Colombia. The species has become naturalized in parts of the United States (California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut).[3] It is of cultivated, probably hybrid origin, with possible parent species including T. minus, T. moritzianum, T. peltophorum, and T. peregrinum.[4][5] It is not closely related to the genus Nasturtium (which includes watercress).

Description[edit]

It is a herbaceous annual plant with trailing stems growing to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) long or more. The leaves are large, nearly circular, 3 to 15 centimetres (1.2 to 5.9 in) diameter, green to glaucous green above, paler below; they are peltate, with the 5–30 cm long petiole near the middle of the leaf, with several veins radiating to the smoothly rounded or slightly lobed margin. The flowers are 2.5–6 cm diameter, with five petals, eight stamens, and a 2.5–3 cm long nectar spur at the rear; they vary from yellow to orange to red, frilled and often darker at the base of the petals. The fruit is 2 cm broad, three-segmented, each segment with a single large seed 1–1.5 cm long.[6][7]

Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen[edit]

Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen, or the Elizabeth Linnæus Phenomenon, is the name given to the phenomenon of "Flashing Flowers".[8] Especially at dusk, the orange flowers may appear to emit small "flashes". Once believed to be an electrical phenomenon, it is today thought to be an optical reaction in the human eye caused by the contrast between the orange flowers and the surrounding green. The phenomenon is named after Elisabeth Christina von Linné, one of Carl Linnaeus's daughters, who discovered it at age 19.[9]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Roses and Nasturtiums in a Vase by Henri Fantin-Latour

It is widely cultivated, both as an ornamental plant and as a medicinal plant.

Garden nasturtiums are grown for their flowers, and also because both their leaves and flowers are edible; they can be used in salads, imparting a delicately peppery taste. The seeds are also edible, and can be used as a caper substitute.[10]

It is listed as invasive in several areas, including Hawaii, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand.[7]

Ecology[edit]

The garden nasturtium is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Dot Moth[11] and the Garden Carpet Moth.[12] A very common pest found on nasturtiums is the caterpillar of the Large White (Cabbage White) Butterfly.[13]

Companion plants[edit]

Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful companion plants. They repel a great many cucurbit pests, like squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and several caterpillars. They have a similar range of benefits for brassica plants, especially broccoli and cauliflower. They also serve as a trap crop against black fly aphids. They also attract beneficial predatory insects.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tropicos
  2. ^ The Plant List
  3. ^ Flora of North America v 7 p 166
  4. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Tropaeolum majus
  5. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan ISBN 0-333-47494-5.
  6. ^ Jepson Flora: Tropaeolum majus
  7. ^ a b Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk: Tropaeolum majus
  8. ^ H. W. "Das Elisabeth Linné-Phänomen (sogenanntes Blitzen der Blüten) und seine Deutungen", Nature (nature.com). Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Försenad jätteplantering till Malmös schlagerfest, expert varnar för kalkning och kogödsel på påse", Odla med P1, Sveriges Radio, 29 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013. (in Swedish)
  10. ^ Plants For A Future: Tropaeolum majus
  11. ^ "Dot Moth - Melanchra persicariae". Recording the wildlife of Leicestershire and Rutland. NatureSpot. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  12. ^ Plymley, Katherine. "Garden Carpet Moth and Caterpillar Xanthorhoe fluctuata, Nasturtium". Shrewsbury Museums Service. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  13. ^ "Cabbage caterpillars". Royal Horticultural Society. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 

External links[edit]