Garden Flowers - Nasturtium
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Not just another pretty flower...

Nasturtiums are a native of Peru, brought by Spanish conquistadors to  Spain early in the sixteenth century. This bright yellow, orange or red flower traveled to England at the end of the sixteenth century as a decorative plant. Monet's famous garden at Giverny was laden with nasturtiums as they fit the impressionist style of shimmering, blurred colors and spilled over pathways like enthusiastic brush strokes.

The flower gets it's name from the Latin nasusm (nose) and tortus (twisted) because their smell makes the nose wrinkle or twist. The botanical name Tropaelum is from the Green tropiaon (a trophy). In ancient Greece, shields and helmets of defeated enemy were fixed onto tree trunks. It was thought that the nasturtium leaves resembled shields, with the flowers resembling helmets.

Nasturtium Minutiae

  • Hummingbirds are attracted to both the color and nectar of nasturtiums.
  • Nasturtium buds may be picked in late Spring and pickled for use in salads as a replacement for capers.  Click here for Nasturtium Salad!
  • The flowers of a nasturtium are high in Vitamin C and thought to help prevent scurvy, lung problems and blocked bronchial tubes.
  • Over 30 varieties of nasturtiums were exhibited at the 1878 World Exhibition in Paris.

Nasturtiums grow from seed sown as early in Spring as the soil warms up. Plant 1/2 to 3/4 inches deep. Sunny locations are best for lots of blooms although plants grown in shady, moist areas will produce an abundance of beautiful foliage. After nasturtiums are established, they will self-seed prolifically.

Fact or Folklore?
A tonic made with nasturtiums can prevent baldness. French herbalist, Messengue, made a hair lotion with two handfuls of nasturtium flowers, leaves and seeds, ten nettle leaves and three oak leaves. These ingredients were macerated in 1-1/2 pints of 90% alcohol for two weeks, then strained and rubbed into the scalp. 

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