breezyb(z6/7VA)March 9, 2005

I recently read in a local magazine that Nasturtiums were grown by the Colonists, yet as Nasturtiums are native to South America, I thought they were brought here much, much later.

Does anyone here know anything about this?

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Yes! Nasturtiums were very likely to have been brought by the colonists, but from England, not from their native South America. A number of sources give the info but here is info from the reliable Alice Coats' book, Flowers and Their Histories:

Tropaeolum minus came to Britain via the Spanish botanist, Monardes, before 1597. It became very common in gardens and was used as a salad cress.

The garden flower we usually call nasturtium is Tropaeolum majus. It was introduced to English gardens in 1684. Double nasturtiums were introduced from Italy before 1769. There have been many, many different cultivars of this species developed for gardens, right into our own time.

The plant we grow for beauty was originally grown by the English--and colonists, I assume--as food. They ate it like watercress, used it for pickling etc.

There are other species of Tropaeolum grown but they are a little obscure for this discussion. They are in the geranium family and Alice Coats says they are to Peru what the Pelargonium is to South Africa.

Bottom line: The colonists could indeed and probably did have nasturtiums in their gardens. A fun question.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 7:53PM
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Ginny's right, they did have it in their gardens. Tropaeolum includes watercress: T. majus was known as Indian Cress and Nasturtium indicum, and would have been included in garden lists under the general category of Cresses. John Randolph of Williamsburg wrote in his [attributed] Treatise on Gardening in 1765-70 "ÂThe flower is superior to a radish in flavour and is eaten in salads or without. My method is to plant the seeds in hills, three in a hill, leaving space in the middle to put the stick on which they are to growÂ" Jefferson also grew it at Monticello.

Other places, according to Weaver "Philadelphia botanist John Bartram propagated and sold it in the 1760Âs under the name Great Garden Cress and probably grew it much earlier. Christopher SauerÂs Pennsylvania German herbal mentioned it specifically in the supplement for 1764Â"

If you want to check the sources, the books mentioned are "American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century" by Ann Leighton, and "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" by William Woys Weaver.

The original plant was said to have orange and yellow flowers only. Both SSE and Select Seeds offer seeds that will do for the species. And it does need something to climb! If left to wander the earth it will wander through and up every other plant it encounters! Good luck :-)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 9:28AM
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But, it does not wander-crushing! Morning Glories tend to strangle, Nastursiums just sprawl!

theyre a bit peppery for me, but ill shred them and put them in salads!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 12:59AM
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Wonder what happened to Breezyb who posted the question? I think if people dig up information for you, you should at least respond. This is not the first time this has happened on this forum--tho of course it is the exception. Well, at least I learned something and maybe some of you did too, so that made it worth it. And maybe breezyb is out of town.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 7:25PM
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Hi all!

First of all, let me apologize for not thanking all of you who responded to my question. I'm new to these forums & still feeling my way around. Several people sent me personal e-mails in response to this query, & I answered & thanked them promptly. Guess I confused the personal e-mails with the thread.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 9:37PM
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Well, it's great that you got your answers and it was fun to learn things I never knew about nasturtiums.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 10:25PM
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I enjoyed reading about Nasturtiums, and learned much. Always plant them and often eat them, but never had this much information.

I personally ask for direct emails when I ask a question as I have the darndest time finding the thread I asked the question on! Make sense. If I just went one place I would be fine, but I hop all over--you people just offer so much information. Jacquelyn

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 4:30PM
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That may be the way to go. This is the very first forum where I received several personal e-mails chastising me for not responding promptly with thanks.

We're all gardeners (& I raise horses as well), & it's not always possible to be as prompt as one would wish. And again - I DID respond personally via e-mail to a number of folks who e-mailed me. Didn't realize this forum was so touchy.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 4:42PM
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Don't sweat the small stuff in life,Breezy,I too raised horses& know its foaling season,many a nights I spent in a sleeping bag in the foaling stall,sounds like you got a few great answers about the flowers,I learned something as well, I have a climbing varigated thats over 5 ft now,thanks to all who posted!:)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 7:45PM
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