Tropaeolum Day

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan

Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist, physician, zoologist, and all-around remarkable genius, was famous for naming every plant he met in Latin. In his book, Species Plantarum, he bestowed the name “tropaeolum” on one of my favourite flowers, the nasturtium.

I have yet to gain a full understanding of the classification of plants that has a specific jargon that includes words such as species, genera, binomial. So I will continue using the common name of nasturtium – meaning “nose-twister” or “nose-tweaker in Latin, which came because these plants produce an oil similar to that of watercress.

Carl Linnaeus would be quite surprised how people have taken his designation, “Tropaeolum” and created names such as Apricot Twist, Empress of India, Jewel of Africa, Moonlight, Peach Melba, Day & Night, Salmon Baby, Strawberries & Cream and the list goes on…

Nasturtiums are extraordinary. This is the time of year when Vancouver urban gardens are resplendent with this vibrant, edible plant. Yes, edible with vitamin C and lutein in every flower! So enjoy them in salads and stir fries. Even the unripe seeds pods can be harvested and used in spiced vinegar.

They are a combination of beauty and strength, given their herbal medicinal qualities: antiseptic and expectorant. It seems nasturtiums bring relief to those with chest colds and encourage our bodies to formulate new blood cells.

I have designated today to be “Tropaeolum Day.”

So let’s celebrate!!!