The sunny nasturtium flower looks good enough to eat — which is lucky, as it's a famously delicious edible flower. You can eat the leaves, seeds and flowers, which will elevate any home-cooked meal to a restaurant work of art. No wonder the plant is growing in popularity among at-home gardeners and chefs alike.
Colours and shapes
Nasturtium, also known as Tropaeolum, is an annual garden plant with pretty funnel-shaped flowers that come in shades of orange, yellow and red. The flowers have a spicy, fragrant taste, while the leaves are more peppery and the immature green seeds are firy like a radish. The plant is filled with vitamin C, making it a healthy choice, as well as a tasty, dainty one.
When growing Nasturtium, think about how you'd like the plant to look, as well as what it will taste like. The Tropaeolum majus variety is a large, climbing plant, while Tropaeolum minus is more compact, fitting neatly in a pot on your balcony, next to your microgreens. Look after them though, the flowers attract bees, yes — but also aphids and caterpillars, anxious for a tasty snack.
Nasturtiums hail from Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. The Incas historically used the plant for its medicinal properties, and sailors brought the plant to Europe in the 17th century.
- The great Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named the plant Tropaeolum, after the Greek word tropaion, meaning trophy. He thought the smooth, grey-green leaves resembled the shields that Greeks hung in a tree after battle as a trophy of victory.
- Nasturtium has a strong antiseptic properties, which is why the Incas used it as a medicinal herb.