As I was jogging through the Berkeley marina yesterday, I realized I left a roadside edible out of last week’s post! How could I forget the bright and peppery nasturtium? It’s pretty much everyone’s favorite edible flower, an easy garnish to dress up your salad.
The leaves are good too, but quite spicy. I just learned that the flowers I know as nasturtium are from Tropaeolum genus (this one is most likely T. majus), but are named for the Nasturtium genus that includes watercress, because they produce a similar peppery-flavored oil.
Nasturtiums are native to Central and South America, but grow easily here. They’re popular not just because they’re pretty and hardy, but also because they deter many types of insect pest, and can act as a “trap crop” for pests (specifically aphids) that would have a more devastating effect on other crops. Pretty and selfless!