is a fast-growing, edible member of the family
Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae), or the mustard family.
Watercress was formerly assigned the systematic name Nasturtium
officinale (though it is unrelated to the Nasturtium
flowers of family Tropaeolaceae). However it is now
classified as Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum.
Watercress is botanically related to the garden cress and
to mustard plants, from which these cress obtain their
peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. Watercress produces
small, white and green flowers in horizontal clusters.
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Watercress is a
semi-aquatic perennial, and is one of the oldest known
green vegetables consumed by human beings. Watercress is
found to contain significant amounts of iron, calcium and
folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. In some
regions watercress is known as a weed, in other regions as
an aquatic vegetable or herb. Where watercress is grown in
the presence of animal waste, it is a known haven for
parasites such as the liver fluke.
Cultivation of watercress
is practical on both mass scales and on the individual
scale. Being semi-aquatic, watercress is well-suited to hydroponics
cultivation and thrives in water that is slightly
alkaline. In many local markets the demand for
hydroponically-grown watercress far exceeds available
supply. This is due in part to the fact that cress leaves
are unsuitable for distribution in dried form, and thus
can only marginally be preserved. Unmolested watercress
can grow to a height of two feet, however, the edible
shoots are typically harvested just days after
Benefits of Consuming
Many benefits of eating
watercress are claimed. Watercress is claimed to be a mild
stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a
diuretic, an expectorant and a digestive.