- DANCE OF THE FLOWERS, part 6
commonly known as nasturtium, literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. The name was given by Carl Linnaeus.. The name of ‘Nose twister’ was given because they produce an oil that is similar to that of watercress (Nasturtium officinale).
Nasturtiums are native to South and Central America, particularly in Peru and Chile. They are one of the hardiest species and their perennial roots can survive winter cold at altitudes of 10,000 ft.
The first Tropaeolum species was imported into Spain by the Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes. He published an account in 1569 entitled Joyful News out of the Newe Founde Worlde in which he described, among other things, the plants and animals discovered in South America. The English herbalist John Gerard reports having received seeds of the plant from Europe in his 1597 book Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes.
In an ancient custom, after victory in battle, the Romans used to set up a trophy pole called a tropaeum (from the Greek tropaion, source of English "trophy"). The armor and weapons of the vanquished foe were hung on the tropaeum. The plant has round leaves which resemble shields, and the flowers appear as blood-stained helmets, all of which reminded Linnaeus of the tropaeum, and that’s how the plant was given the official botanical name.
Nasturtium thrives all around the world and over the centuries it has played many roles. It is used as a source of food, as decoration for food, as an herb, as medicine, and as a beautifying product as well. The plants benefit not only humans but also it provides a great deal of protection to other plants.
An ointment made from Nasturtiums can be used to treat minor cuts and scrapes as well as help treat some types of acne and skin irritations.
A tea can be made with the leaves and petals. Supposedly the tea alleviates respiratory infections, prevents scurvy and urinary tract diseases, regulates hyperthyroidism and stimulates the digestive tract. Cosmetic uses:
Nasturtiums can aid in the reduction and removal of stubborn skin problems. Different types of natural facial masks and washes can be made with the leaves. Not only can the leaves help get rid of acne, but it also acts as a hair growth stimulant. In fact many shampoos and conditioners include nasturtium in their ingredients!Culinary use:
Nasturtium has been used in the kitchen for centuries. All parts of this flower are edible and each part has a unique bittersweet peppery taste and texture. The pickled seeds are often described as tasting like roasted capers. Oil is often extracted and used in cooking foods to give them a spicy mustard-like taste. Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers
12 nasturtium petals (whole flowers)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1/2 tablespoon fresh chives (you may use chive blossoms, chopped)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon verbena (or lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon basil, lemon catnip, or lemon zest)
salt and pepper (optional)
Make sure flowers are clean and dry. Pick as close to serving time as possible, but definitely the same day. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Mix cream cheese thoroughly with herbs. Season to taste. Place 1 or 2 teaspoons of mixture (depending on size of flower) in center of flower. Pull petals upwards to cover the cheese as much as possible. Press lightly into cheese to stick. I have eaten Nasturtium petals at a formal tea that featured edible flower concoctions. I have not used Nasturtiums for any other purpose. The information above was gathered from a Google search.
Nasturtium is discovered in Peru
1638 - 1715
King Louis XIV caused hard times for the French people. Many used nasturtium as a source of food and spices.
Nasturtium is found in the wild for the first time at Yale University. The flower that was discovered was the Rorripa nasturium-aquaticum
During the Victorian Era scurvy was common throughout Europe. People began to use nasturtium as a source of vitamin C and for its antibacterial properties.
In 1841, the plant was discovered in the wild in the United States. The first place it was discovered was in Niagara, New York.
Shortly after the discovery in New York, the flower won the title of a "rare escape of cultivation." In short, nasturtium, a non-native plant began reproducing at a rapid rate, and was also cultivated throughout the United States.
1872 – 1874
Impressionists such as Monet, used the Nasturtiums as a subject matter in their paintings.
Late 1800's Early 1900's
Nasturtiums finally reach the west coast and is found growing in the wild.
Nasturtiums once again are used in art by the painter Henri Matisse. ‘Dance I’ features Nasturtiums.
1930 - 1945
Nasturtium played a minor role in World War II. The seeds were ground up and used as a pepper substitute because actual pepper was hard to find.
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