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What are they?

These are tropical, climbing or scrambling plants that are grown as garden ornamentals for their attractive flowers that are produced over a long flowering period. The seeds of some species are sometimes uned in cooking and have a peppery bite to them; it is probably this that has given them the name 'nasturtium' which is confusing since that is the scientific name for water-cress (which has a similar peppery bite). The flowers are bright red, yellow or orange with five petals and five sepals. One or more of the sepals is protracted at the back of the flower into a long spur.

Where are they found?

Most likely to be found as non-persistent garden throw-outs or self-sown plants on rough ground or near allotments or gardens.


To date, only one species has been recorded at large in the East Anglian region and is described below.

Large Nasturtium      Tropaeolum majus

Introduced from South America. Grown as a garden ornamental and occasionally used to provide seeds for culinary use. Flowers July to September or until the first frosts. A scrambling plant which may climb a short way nut is typically seen sprawling over the ground. Flowers may be orange or yellow. The leaves are perfoliate, being attached to their stalks at the centre of the round leaf blade. The whole plant has a sharp, slightly bitter smell and a peppery taste and is a common foodplant of both Large and Small White butterflies.

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Seed capsule