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The nasturtium was introduced into Europe by the Dutch conquistadors around 1680, after which it began to make its appearance in monastery gardens. It was held in high esteem as an aromatic and medicinal plant. The spur of the nasturtium flower reminds us of a monk's hood, which suggests that it may have derived its French name from the Capucine monks. According to other sources, it may have been named for its leaves in the form of a shield (peltate), since Tropaeolum may be recognised in the Latin word tropaeum, which means «trophy», and was in primitive times generally «a tree trunk on which the shield and weapons of a defeated enemy were hung as a sign of victory».
Originally from regions between Bolivia, Columbia and Peru, this vigourous annual plant, a climber or a creeper, has alternate leaves with undulating edges of a bright green. Its flowers are large, in the form of a funnel, with long solitary spurs at the branching of the leaves, and their colour ranges from yellow to purple by way of orange. Its fruits are bulbous triple achenes.
FRAGANCE AND FLAVOUR: its scent is spicy, and its subtle taste is reminiscent of Indian spice, despite its Peruvian origin. It leaves a sharp, fresh taste which remains in the mouth for a long time.
USES: Infusions, salads, hair lotion, either alone or with other plant essences.