Garden Nasturtium – Tropaeolum magus – has a very spicy taste and is a lot like water cress with a siginificant amount of pepper added. Given that it is often a weed in temperate gardens it can be overlooked as an interesting culinary experience.
The crunchy flowers eaten whole really do taste pretty good in a salad or added to a bowl of blander leaves like lettuce etc. And the nasturtium leaves can be used to make really tasty parcels when used like a vine leaf to wrap other items inside them – e.g. they can be used to make an excellent tapas item.
It is a water lover and I have found tends to grow bigger and better usable edible leaves and flowers in a cooler climate – however they love direct sun and thrive on heat as well as long as they get the water at their roots.
They form a low growing scrambling plant that will flower and self seed easily. They can spread extensively through a fertile well mulched soil but usually tend to stay at surface level so they are easy to move around or remove entirely if they get out of hand.
The flowers of various colour seem to pretty much taste the same whether they are dark or light.
Majus tends to die off in winter as it is an annual – but can last longer if the conditions are good.
The seed is quite large and easy to collect from the pods that form.
The Tropaeolum Genus is quite huge and varied and has a lot of really unusual plants in it – many of which are edible.
I would guess that it has the common name of ‘Nasturtium’ due to it’s taste connection and culinary similarity to Water Cress which bears the Genus name of Nasturtium.