Small nasturtium (Tropaeolum minus)

The nasturtium (Tropaeolum ) are the only plant genus of the family of the Capuchins Kress plants ( Tropaeolaceae ) within the order of Kreuzblütlerartigen ( Brassicales ). Medicinal Plant of the Year 2013 is the Great nasturtium.


There are climbing up crawling, juicy, one-to perennial herbaceous plants. The stems are prostrate or climbing. Some species form root nodules (example: mashua ). Climbing species have touch-sensitive, twining petioles. The mostly alternate, sometimes in the lower part against permanent leaves are stalked. The leaf blade is peltate, palmately divided, deeply lobed to pinnate. Stipules are present or absent.

The usually solitary in the leaf axils flowers are conspicuously colored, mostly large, hermaphrodite, zygomorphic and spurred. The calyx consists of five sepals, of which form three grown together a long nectar spur. The corolla is composed of five free, usually nailed petals, the two upper smaller than the lower. Per flower, there are eight free, fertile stamens. Three carpels are fused into a superior ovaries. The style ends in a three-lobed stigma or three scars. Pollination is mostly by insects ( entomophily ).

There shall be gap fruits that fall into three nutlets or drupes. The embryo is straight with thick, fleshy cotyledons ( cotyledons ) and without endosperm.

The wettability of the sheet surface is small. Water trickles into droplets on how it can be also observed in lotus flowers, and does, on the surface of particles of dirt with (lotus effect).


Initially, they are in South America and Central America home, there mainly in the mountains of Mexico to central Chile and Argentina. As an ornamental plant, some species are now widespread in temperate zone worldwide.


The pungent taste of the plant, which is caused by the glucosinolates contained therein, gave cress her name, derived from the Old High German word Cresso, sharp '. The genus Tropaeolum name derives from the Greek term Tropaion, who described an ancient symbol of victory, a scaffold, which was hung with weapons of defeated opponents. Carl Linnaeus remembered the shape of the leaves on a plate and the flowers on a helmet.


Characteristic of the family are glucosinolates and Myrosinzellen, erucasäurehaltige seed oils and Oxalatstoffwechsel that matches the cruciferous plants with the.

About eight species are cultivated as ornamental plants, one species is grown for food purposes:

  • Large nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus L.). Ornamental plant. Benzyl the nature is antibacterial, so medicinal use. Also suitable for human consumption: young leaves as a seasoning ingredient for salads, flowers as edible decoration, closed buds and immature seeds pickled in vinegar and brine as a substitute for capers.
  • Canary nasturtium (Tropaeolum peregrinum L.). Annual climbing plant, used as an ornamental plant.
  • Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum Ruiz & Pav ). Tuber is used in South America as a food.


The former monotypic genus Magallana Cav., Named in Patagonia at home and after Magellan, and the genus Trophaeastrum Sparre are now incorporated into this family. The family consists then today only in the genus Tropaeolum with about 90 species (selection):

  • Tropaeolum ciliatum Ruiz & Pav; Home: Chile
  • Large nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus L.); nowhere known wild, probably from South America comes
  • Small nasturtium (Tropaeolum minus L.); Home: Ecuador, Peru
  • Tropaeolum moritzianumKlotzsch
  • Tropaeolum Peltophorum Benth.; Home: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
  • Canary nasturtium (Tropaeolum peregrinum L.); Home: Peru
  • Tropaeolum polyphyllum Cav.; Home: Argentina, Chile
  • Tropaeolum smithii DC.; Home: Andes of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru
  • Tropaeolum speciosum Poepp. & Endl. ; Home: Chile
  • Tropaeolum tricolor Sweet
  • Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum Ruiz & Pav ); Home: Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru


  • The Tropaeolaceae family in APWebsite (English)
  • Description of the family of Tropaeolaceae at DELTA. (English)
  • Description in the Western Australian flora. (English)