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Nasturtium is the common name of two herbaceous plants that are often confused with each other: Tropaeolum majus and Nasturtium officinale. The first belongs to the family of the Trapeolaceae, while the second to that of the Cruciferae. In reality, the plants called nasturtiums are very numerous, even if little known. Tropaeolum majus has more than 85 varieties, of which the best known is the one also called with the name of capuchin. The officinal nasturtium is, however, called watercress. Both species are not, as we said, very well known, but despite this they are of great importance in the herbal field. The particular they have in common are the medicinal properties and the active ingredients which in some respects seem to coincide. The capuchin is a plant native to Peru and introduced in Europe starting from the seventeenth century. It is cultivated for ornamental purposes and has round leaves, a thin light green stem and flowers that can be yellow and red. The cress has stems ranging in length from 10 to 70 centimeters and which in some varieties can even reach two meters. The latter is a watercourse plant that blooms from March to September and is found in Asia and Europe. Cappuccina also blooms in the same period, but to do so it needs areas well exposed to the sun. In the officinal field the leaves, flowers and seeds of the capuchin and leaves, young shoots and all the fresh plant of the cress are used.


The capuchin nasturtium and the watercress nasturtium have the same active ingredient in common: a sulfur glycoside that comes in the form of essence or essential oil. The greatest concentration occurs in the flowers and fruits, while the leaves have a considerable amount of vitamin C which gives the plant anti-scurvy properties, that is a skin disease caused by a vitamin deficiency. Specifically, watercress contains: phenylethyl disulfocyanate, resins, enzymes, mineral salts and vitamins (A, B, C, and E). The cappuccina instead contains: benzyl thiocyanate, flavonoids and in the flowers, elenine. The active principle common to the two species of nasturtium is gluconustarzine which in tropaeolum majus is called glucotropeolin. The use of tropaeolum majus is essentially external, that is to treat skin diseases, dermatosis, dandruff and dermatitis of the scalp accompanied by itching and flaking. The benzyl isocyanate of nasturtium (genus tropaeolum) also has antibiotic and balsamic properties that make it useful in the treatment of bronchial affections where it exerts a stimulating effect of catarrhal mucus secretions, that is, an expectorant effect. The same mechanism of stimulation of secretions also occurs at the gastrointestinal level, so its use in subjects with gastric ulcer is not recommended. The antibiotic properties of the plant are also useful for the treatment of urinary tract infections. The same expectorant and dermatological properties are possessed by the nasturtium called watercress (genus Nasturtium). Other properties of this plant species are anti-anemic due to the presence of iron, digestive, anti-cellulite, anti-acne, hyperemizing, emmenagogues.


The officinal use of the active ingredients of nasturtium referred to the Tropaeolum genus has fallen into disuse, especially for the preparation of remedies to be taken orally. The essence of the plant, in fact, is too irritating for the mucous membrane of the mouth and stomach. Until recently, the mother tincture was obtained from the whole fresh plant. Today, the use of Tropaeolum majus is almost exclusively cosmetic. With the leaves of this plant to which you can add leaves of other plant species (nettle and fresh forest leaves) you can prepare a hair lotion. The leaves are crushed and macerated for two weeks in alcohol at 90 degrees. The dose to prepare the lotion is 100 grams of leaves for each single plant species. At the end of 15 days, the macerated leaves are filtered with pressure and the lotion obtained is applied to the scalp. The application consists of frictions to be done with a slightly rough brush. The flower buds and green fruits of the Tropaeolum nasturtium are also used in cooking. Pickled, they can be eaten as a substitute for capers, while the tender leaves can be eaten as a salad. The plant should be eaten fresh because after a certain period of harvesting and flowering it becomes toxic. With the extracts of watercress (Nasturtium officinale), fluid extracts, infusions and syrups are prepared. The recommended dose for the fluid extract is 38 drops, one dose corresponds to a teaspoon. With the fluid extract both remedies in drops and syrups are prepared. The infusion is obtained from the leaves. The recommended dose is 1.2 tablespoons per cup per day. Nasturtium extracts can also be taken in the form of juice. The recommended dose, in this case, is two tablespoons a day to be taken with milk or other cold drink.

Nasturtium: Cost of products

The costs of products based on nasturtium extracts (referring to watercress) remain on the average of other herbal remedies. The fluid extract costs about 10 euros. The extract allows to obtain both drops and syrups. Given the great confusion created by the correspondence between the two species called by the same name, it is always advisable to consult a herbalist doctor before taking plant supplements based on nasturtium extracts.

Latin name: Tropaeolum majus

family: Tropaeolacées

origin: South America

Flowering period: from June to frosts

Flower color: red, orange, yellow, pink, ivory, black

Plant type: ornamental creeping climbing

Type of vegetation: annual

Type of foliage: obsolete

height: 4 m for climbers and 30 cm for others

toxicity: edible plant

The bulbs to be planted in March that bloom in the summer

Before going into the analysis of all the must-have flowers of spring, the bulbs deserve a separate mention, which must be planted in March but bloom in summer. This is a good idea if you want to work early and have a beautiful flowered balcony in the summer. In fact, once planted, the bulbs do not need great care, apart from watering them frequently in the first weeks and placing them in a sunny spot. In the link of the paragraph title you will find our guide to flowers to plant in spring that bloom in summer. As for the timing: the ideal time is definitely March, that is the beginning of spring.


The nasturtium generally blooms in spring-summer, the blossoming varies according to the species in the period between June and October. Its flowers are highly appreciated for their ornamental value: they have different colors ranging from cream to yellow, orange to red, they are funnel-shaped and have a delicate scent reminiscent of honey, in fact they are also very loved by bees. and cut are often inserted in bouquets and various floral compositions.

Andrea Branzi

The Giardino cabinet was designed and made by Italian designer and architect Andrea Branzi. in 2006, and it is part of a body of work in which Branzi approaches the way in which human activity is changing the planet. In these works, Branzi incorporates natural and manufactured materials aiming not at presenting a coordinated harmony, but, rather, at expressing the juncture between two phases of human activity. Explore related works and designs from famous Italian designer Ettore Sottsass.

Explore other Andrea Branzi products at Casati Gallery

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flower vase, YG 1203

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Branzi As A Writer And Academic

In 1983, he was one of the founders of the Domus Academy in Milan, the first international postgraduate school of fashion, industrial design, and design management, and, in 1995, he was awarded a Compasso d'Oro for his work at the Domus Academy.

Throughout his career, Branzi has written several books among the most notable are: Learning from Milan, The Hot House and Domestic Animals (published by MIT press), Nouvelles de la métropole froide (Center Georges Pompidou), and Introduction to Italian design. Branzi has collaborated with many Italian architectural magazines, such as Interior, Domus, Nice house, and WAY.

Use of garden nasturtiums

The flowers have an interesting, slightly spicy taste, a bit like watercress. They bring color to the dishes. Even immature seeds are tasty, more pungent than flowers. Flower buds and young seeds are sometimes marinated in vinegar to get a result close to capers.

Medicinally, the foliage is rich in vitamin C. It has antibacterial and diuretic properties.

In the garden, the nasturtium brings biodiversity. In addition, it is a plant that attracts both aphids and protects its neighbors. So it's easier to await the arrival of auxiliaries, aphid predators like ladybugs and hoverflies, who will come to balance things out. After a few years of opening the predator / prey cycle, aphids are no longer a problem in the garden.

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