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Useful Tropical Plants

Tropaeolum majus

L.

Tropaeolaceae

+ Synonyms

Cardamindum majus Moench

Nasturtium indicum Garsault [Invalid]

Tropaeolum elatum Salisb.

Tropaeolum hortense Sparre

Tropaeolum hybridum L.

Tropaeolum pinnatum Andrews

Tropaeolum quinquelobum Bergius

Trophaeum majus (L.) Kuntze

Common Name: Nasturtium

Tropaeolum majus
Carpet of flowering plants
Photograph by: Ji-Elle
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Tropaeolum majus Tropaeolum majus Tropaeolum majus Tropaeolum majus Tropaeolum majus Tropaeolum majus

General Information

Nasturtium is an annual to short-lived perennial plant. It can vary in habit from a dwarf plant growing only 30cm tall, to a climbing plant with stems up to 3.5 metres long. The stems scramble over the ground and into the surrounding vegetation, supporting themselves by twisting their leaf stalks around the plants[
219
Title
Gardening on Walls
Publication
 
Author
Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1983
ISBN
0-00-219220-0
Description
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
,
423
Title
Desert Tropicals
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
The main focus of the site is succulent plants, but it also contains information on a wide range of other species. Usually at least one good photograph, plus basic information about the plant and its cultivation.
].
A very ornamental and free-flowering species, the nasturtium is commonly grown in flower gardens around the world[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. There are many named ornamental varieties, some of which are low-growing forms that do not climb[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
202
Title
Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Davis. B.
Publisher
Viking.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-670-82929-3
Description
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The plant also provides edible leaves, flowers and seeds, has various local medicinal applications and insect repelling properties.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
434
Title
Flora of Peru
Publication
 
Author
Macbride. J.F.
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History
Year
1936
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent attempt at a Flora of Peru, though it is clear that many of the plants were imperfectly known at that time and so information on them was sketchy. Available for download from the Internet.

Range

S. America - Peru. A garden escape, locally naturalized in parts Europe[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Habitat

Coastal and disturbed areas from sea level to 3,000 metres.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual/Perennial
Height3.50 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the tropics, it can be cultivated as an annual in the temperate zone.
Tolerates most soils[
202
Title
Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Davis. B.
Publisher
Viking.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-670-82929-3
Description
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
], though it prefers a rich light well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade[
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
,
15
Title
Edible Ornamental Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Bryan. J. and Castle. C.
Publisher
Pitman Publishing
Year
1976
ISBN
0-273-00098-5
Description
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
]. More and lusher leaves are produced when the plant is growing in a rich soil, though less flowers are produced[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. When grown in a soil of low fertility the leaves are smaller and less lush, though more flowers are produced[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
] The plant will also succeed in very poor soils[
202
Title
Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Publication
 
Author
Davis. B.
Publisher
Viking.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-670-82929-3
Description
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
]. It dislikes drought[
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
].
The flowers have a very pleasing mild scent[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
]. The Gleam Hybrid cultivars are more strongly scented[
245
Title
Scented Flora of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Genders. R.
Publisher
Robert Hale. London.
Year
1994
ISBN
0-7090-5440-8
Description
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
].
Slugs and snails love eating this plant, so it can be grown to attract them away from other plants[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
]. The caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly can be a nuisance and often cause considerable damage to the leaves[
219
Title
Gardening on Walls
Publication
 
Author
Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V.
Publisher
Collins
Year
1983
ISBN
0-00-219220-0
Description
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
,
15
Title
Edible Ornamental Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Bryan. J. and Castle. C.
Publisher
Pitman Publishing
Year
1976
ISBN
0-273-00098-5
Description
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
]. A hot watercress flavour[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Very nice on its own or as a flavouring in mixed salads[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Rich in vitamin C[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
]. The leaves are available from early summer until the first frosts of the autumn[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Flowers - raw[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. A very ornamental and tasty addition to the salad bowl, the flowers have a hot watercress flavour and are available all through the summer[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The flowers contain about 130mg vitamin C per 100g[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Young seed pods - raw[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
,
15
Title
Edible Ornamental Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Bryan. J. and Castle. C.
Publisher
Pitman Publishing
Year
1976
ISBN
0-273-00098-5
Description
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
]. These are even hotter than the flowers or leaves[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. They can also be harvested whilst immature and pickled for use as a caper substitute[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Seed - raw or cooked[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
]. Very hot[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The mature seed can be ground into a powder and used as a pepper substitute[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The seed contains 26% protein and 10% oil[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

Medicinal

Nasturtium has long been used in Andean herbal medicine as a disinfectant and wound-healing herb, and as an expectorant to relieve chest conditions[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. All parts of the plant appear to be antibiotic and an infusion of the leaves can be used to increase resistance to bacterial infections and to clear nasal and bronchial catarrh[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. The remedy seems to both reduce catarrh formation and stimulate the clearing and coughing up of phlegm[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

The leaves are antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aperient, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, laxative and stimulant[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. A glycoside found in the plant reacts with water to produce an antibiotic[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

The plant has antibiotic properties towards aerobic spore forming bacteria[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
]. Extracts from the plant have anticancer activity[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of genito-urinary diseases, respiratory infections, scurvy and poor skin and hair conditions[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Externally it makes an effective antiseptic wash and is used in the treatment of baldness, minor injuries and skin eruptions[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Any part of the plant can be used, it is harvested during the growing season and used fresh[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The growing plant attracts aphids away from other plants. Research indicates that aphids flying over plants with orange or yellow flowers do not stop, nor do they prey on plants growing next to or above the flowers[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].
A good companion plant in the garden, growing well with radishes, cabbages and fruit trees, improving their growth and flavour[
14
Title
Complete Guide to Herbs.
Publication
 
Author
Holtom. J. and Hylton. W.
Publisher
Rodale Press
Year
1979
ISBN
0-87857-262-7
Description
A good herbal.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
]. A good companion for many plants, keeping many harmful insects at bay and also improving the growth and flavour of neighbouring crops[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].
Aphids on nasturtiums indicate a lime deficiency in the soil[
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
].

Other Uses

The seeds yield a high percentage of a drying oil that can be used in making paints, varnish etc[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
].

An insecticide can be made from an infusion of leaves and soap flakes[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ. The seed usually germinates within 2 weeks.

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