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Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium, Indian Cress)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Brassicales > Family: Tropaeoleaceae > Genus: Tropaeolum

Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus, growing alongside road in Cape Town.

Native to the Andes in South America, from Bolivia to Colombia. A common weed in Cape Town, in gardens and along roadsides and riverbanks (where else in South Africa?). 

Leaves are sometimes eaten in salad and contain mustard oils which give them a slightly peppery flavour. This flavour is similar to that provided by Watercress leaves (also used in salads) and perhaps it is for this reason that the names of these two species have become confused: whereas the common name for Tropaeolum majus is Nasturtium, the latin name for Watercress was Nasturtium officinale (it is now Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum). 

The Cabbage White Butterfly Pieris brassicae completes its life cycle on both cruciferous plants (Brassicaceae, to which Watercress belongs) and on Nasturtium plants which emphasises the fact that their chemistry is similar. It is also noteworthy that the Brassicaceae and the Tropaeoleaceae fall within the same order Brassicales.

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