Nasturtium (genus)

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Nasturtium lvs.jpg
Nasturtium microphyllum, a watercress, in Hawai'i
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Nasturtium
W.T. Aiton

Nasturtium (/nəˈstɜːrʃəm/) is a genus of seven plant species in the family Brassicaceae (cabbage family), best known for the edible watercresses Nasturtium microphyllum (Rorippa microphylla) and Nasturtium officinale (R. nasturtium-aquaticum). Nasturtium was previously synonymised with Rorippa, but molecular evidence supports its maintenance as a distinct genus more closely related to Cardamine than to Rorippa sensu stricto (Al-Shehbaz & Price, 1998; Al-Shehbaz, Beilstein & Kellogg, 2006). Watercress or yellowcress is a common name for plants in this genus.[1]

These plants are related to garden cress and mustard, noteworthy for a peppery, tangy (pungent) flavor. The name Nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus tortus, meaning "twisted nose", in reference to the effect on the nasal passages of eating the plants. Nasturtium foliage is used as food by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera, including Orthonama obstipata (The Gem).

One species, Nasturtium gambellii, is a federally listed in California as an endangered species in the United States.[2]


The genus Nasturtium should not be confused with the ornamental garden plant, usually grown as an annual, that is commonly known as nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Though not closely related, the leaves of the garden nasturtium also have a peppery taste.

Species list[edit]

One database names 316 species. [3]


  1. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Nasturtium". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  2. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (September 2011). "Rorippa gambellii [Nasturtium gambelii] (Gambel's watercress) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation" (PDF). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  3. ^ Plant Systematics: Nasturtium