Family: Mustard (Brassicaceae)
Origin: Originally watercress came from Europe, but now you can find it in every temperate area. It usually grows around water and is sometimes called water or brook nasturtium. The Romans used it when preparing salads and seasoning foods. You can find it under the name "rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum"
Cuisine: You can use watercress together with other greens. It also tastes good in sandwiches or in herbal cottage cheese. It add zing to soups, as well.
Health effects: this herb stimulates the gall bladder, kidneys, and liver. It stimulates digestion and purifies the blood, and in spring you can use it for dieting. It helps with rheumatism and gout.
Cosmetics: Watercress juice contains an antibiotic essential oil that clears and purifies the skin. Use a swab to apply it to irritated places. You can also lighten summer freckles by applying the crushed herb to your skin at night.
Decorative uses: Watercress is grown on the banks of garden ponds or brooks and covers them with its white flowers.
Features: This water and marsh plant grows up to 30 inches tall with dense leaves. Thick roots hold the plant firmly in place and the leaves hang above and under the water. In the summer, the white flowers contrast nicely with the dark green shoots. The leaves contain a bitter essential oil (mustard oil glucoside), vitamins, mineral substances, tannins and alkaloids.
Similar species: Small-leafed watercress (Nasturtium microphyllum) is known for its frost resistance.
Location for growth: Watercress is a salad herb that can grow in colder places in partial or full shade. It prefers rich clay soil, which must always be damp.
Cultivation: The plants need your attention while growing because they need water that is 3 feet deep. You can find such conditions in marshy areas around small lakes.
Harvest: The best parts to eat are the new leaves and shoots, which should be harvested before the flowers come. Store them in a glass of water in a shaded area to keep them fresh. It is very important to wash them before use.
useful link: watercress
When gathering watercress in the wild, be aware in which the plant is growing, otherwise you may be at risk from water-borne diseases and parasites. You can irritate your kidneys by overdosing on watercress, so eat no more than an ounce per day.