Type of FlowerTropaeolum:
Tropaeolum commonly known as nasturtium literally "nose-twister" or "nose-tweaker"), is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. It was named by Carl Linnaeus and is the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae. The nasturtiums received their common name because they produce an oil that is similar to that of watercress.
The genus Tropaeolum, native to South and Central America, includes several very popular garden plants, the most commonly grown being T. majus, T. peregrinum and T. speciosum. The hardiest species is T. polyphyllum from Chile, the perennial roots of which can survive underground when air temperatures drop as low as −15°C (5°F).
Plants in this genus have showy, often intensely bright flowers, and rounded, peltate (shield-shaped) leaves with the petiole in the centre. The flowers have five petals (sometimes more), a three-carpelled ovary, and a funnel-shaped nectar tube at the back.
The first nasturtium species was introduced into Europe in the 18th century and was named Tropaeolum minus by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. He chose the genus name because the plant reminded him of 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"). On this the armour and weapons of the vanquished foe were hung. Linnaeus was reminded of this by the plant as the round leaves resembled shields and the flowers, blood-stained helmets.
Nasturtiums were once known commonly as "Indian cresses" because they were introduced from the Americas, known popularly then as the Indies, and used like cress as salad ingredients. The 16th-century herbalist John Gerard called the plant "lark's heel" in his book Of the Historie of Plants. He wrote: "unto the backe part(of the flower) doth hange a taile or spurre, such as hath the larkes heele, called in Latine Consolida regalis.He was referring to the forking larkspur (Consolida regalis) of the buttercup family.
The flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient; it has a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of watercress, and is also used in stir fry. The flowers contain about 130 milligrams (2.0 gr) vitamin C per 100 grams (3.5 oz),about the same amount as is contained in parsley.The unripe seed pods can be harvested and dropped into spiced vinegar to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers.