Cress, True Watercress (Nasturtium officinalis) is a perennial aquatic plant in the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia but is now cultivated and naturalized in various parts of the world.
True Watercress is primarily grown for its edible leaves, which are highly nutritious and have a distinctive peppery flavor. It is known for its vibrant green color and small, rounded leaves that grow in pairs along the stems. The leaves are smooth and have a slightly succulent texture.
As an aquatic plant, True Watercress requires a constant source of clean, flowing water for optimal growth. It is commonly found in shallow streams, ponds, and other freshwater habitats. The plant's stems and leaves float on the water's surface or trail along the ground, forming dense mats.
In terms of taste, True Watercress leaves have a distinct peppery and slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of mustard greens. The flavor is more pronounced in mature leaves, while younger leaves tend to be milder. The entire plant, including the stems, leaves, and flowers, is edible.
Watercress is highly versatile and can be used in a variety of culinary preparations. It is commonly used in salads, sandwiches, soups, and as a garnish for various dishes. The peppery flavor adds a pleasant zing to salads and pairs well with other ingredients. It can also be lightly cooked or added to stir-fries for a milder flavor.
True Watercress is not only delicious but also highly nutritious. It is a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as various minerals, including calcium and iron. It is low in calories and high in antioxidants, making it a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
Watercress has a long history of medicinal use, particularly for its potential health benefits. It is believed to possess diuretic properties, aid digestion, and support liver and kidney health. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before using watercress for medicinal purposes.
In summary, True Watercress is a versatile and nutritious aquatic plant with a peppery flavor. Its edible leaves are highly sought after for their culinary uses, and the plant offers a refreshing and distinctive taste to a variety of dishes.