Watercress

Watercress

What is watercress?

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the family Brassicaceae. It is a semi-aquatic plant that grows in or near water bodies. Watercress has been used for centuries as a medicinal and culinary herb.

Scientific Name:
The scientific name of watercress is Nasturtium officinale. It belongs to the family Brassicaceae and the genus Nasturtium. The plant is also known as Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum.

Other Names:
Watercress is known by various other names such as Yellowcress, Brown Cress, Cress, Indian Cress, Scurvy Grass, and Wart Cress. In India, it is called Jal Khumbi or Jalkumbhi.

Habitat:
Watercress is a semi-aquatic plant that prefers clean, flowing water. It is found growing naturally in streams, rivers, and ditches, and is often cultivated in artificial water bodies. The plant grows best in areas with cool temperatures and moderate sunlight.

Description:
Watercress is a perennial plant that can grow up to 120 cm in height. It has small, oval-shaped leaves that grow in clusters along the stem. The leaves are dark green and have a pungent, peppery taste. The plant produces small white or pink flowers that bloom from April to June. The flowers are followed by small, round seed pods that contain the plant’s seeds.

Status:
Watercress is a natural species that has not been genetically modified. However, there are hybrid varieties of watercress that have been developed for cultivation.

List of Known Species of watercress

There are two known species of watercress:

Nasturtium officinale var. microphyllum: This is a small-leaved variety of watercress that is native to Europe and Asia.
Nasturtium officinale var. officinale: This is the most common variety of watercress and is found in many parts of the world.

Watercress, Water cress
Watercress

Wild species of watercress

The wild species of watercress are native to Europe and Asia. However, the plant has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America, South America, and Australia.

List of the wild species of watercress

The wild species of watercress include:

  • Nasturtium officinale: This is the most common wild species of watercress and is native to Europe and Asia. It grows in and around streams, ditches, and other moist habitats.
  • Nasturtium microphyllum: This is a wild species of watercress found in parts of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. It grows in damp areas along streams, springs, and seeps.
  • Nasturtium palustre: This wild species of watercress is found in Europe, Asia, and North America. It grows in wetlands, marshes, and other damp habitats.
  • Nasturtium sylvestre: This wild species of watercress is found in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. It grows in damp habitats such as wetlands, stream banks, and ditches.
  • Nasturtium aquaticum: This is a wild species of watercress found in Europe and Asia. It grows in and around streams, springs, and other wet habitats.

These wild species of watercress are similar in appearance and taste to the cultivated watercress that is commonly found in grocery stores and restaurants. However, they may have slightly different nutrient profiles and medicinal properties due to differences in growing conditions and genetics.

Benefits of watercress

Mineral Content:
Watercress is a highly nutritious vegetable that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains significant amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.

Medicinal Value:
Watercress has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It has been traditionally used to treat scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. The plant is also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Research has shown that watercress can help improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Culinary Uses:
Watercress has a peppery taste and is commonly used in salads and sandwiches. It can also be used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. In some cultures, the leaves and stems are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Watercress is often used as a garnish for fish and meat dishes.

Research information for watercress

Research has shown that watercress can help improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have also shown that the plant has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Watercress is currently being studied for its potential to prevent and treat certain types of cancer, including breast, lung, and colon cancer. In addition, watercress may also have potential benefits for bone health, as it is a good source of calcium and vitamin K.

Watercress recipes

Here are some simple and delicious recipes that incorporate watercress:

Watercress Salad

Ingredients:
1 bunch watercress
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup crumbled nut cheese
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry the watercress.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the watercress, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  5. Sprinkle the crumbled nut cheese over the top and serve.

Watercress Soup

Ingredients:
1 bunch watercress
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons seamoss gel
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry the watercress.
  2. In a large pot, sauté the onion until softened.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the watercress and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  7. Return the soup to the pot and seamoss gel.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve hot.

References

– USDA FoodData Central. (2021). Watercress, raw. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170111/nutrients
– University of Maryland Medical Center. (2021). Watercress. Retrieved from https://www.umms.org/ummc/health/medical/altmed/herb/watercress
– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (n.d.). Nasturtium officinale. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/agpc/doc/gbase/data/pf000337.htm

Author: sebifood

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