Aromatic plants

Plant cress

The watercress plant: general information

Watercress belongs to the Brassicaceae family and is an annual herbaceous plant, which develops with a small bush with a maximum height of 50 cm. Both the long stems and the bright green leaves of the cress plant are consumed; in summer small white flowers sprout on it, while the seeds are dark red. The watercress plant is widespread in all cool climate areas of the northern hemisphere as a spontaneous plant and can be safely cultivated both in pots and in full soil.It has a very high speed of germination: 24 hours at 27 ° C, or 36 hours at 22 ° C and its sprouts, ready in less than a month, can be stored in the refrigerator for about 15 days; it is harvested both during cultivation and in the flowering season, as long as the leaves are at least 5-10 centimeters high.

The watercress plant: cultivation

The watercress plant has a rather short life cycle and can theoretically be sown all year round; however, it is necessary to keep in mind that it needs mild temperatures, or the germination times will get longer. Consequently, the best time will be when the minimum temperatures exceed 12-15 ° C; in order to have a prolonged harvest, it will be better to carry out gradual sowing every 15/20 days; once the cress plant has flowered, after collecting the seeds, remove the old plants and reuse the soil for a new sowing. The soil will be rich, well worked and fertilized and the position will be sunny. Cultivation in pots has no particular contraindications, as long as the container is large enough; in winter, it will be better to place the pot on a windowsill, in a sheltered position.

The cress plant: use in the kitchen

In the kitchen, the leaves of the watercress plant are used, which have a slightly spicy and sour taste and are generally used fresh, whole or in pieces, to flavor salads, sandwiches, sauces, fresh cheeses or vegetable soups, in the latter case adding them at the end of cooking. Furthermore, its taste goes well with some types of fish (salmon, lobster and shrimp), but also with meats and eggs. In Italy, its use is widespread in Romagna cuisine, where it is used, among other things, to fill canapés and the famous wraps. In the kitchen, the sprouts (5/6 cm high seedlings) are also used, which are often eaten as soon as they are picked in salads, alone or with other ingredients (for example, cheese).

Watercress plant: The cress plant: use in herbal medicine

The watercress plant is rich in vitamins B2, A, PP, E, but above all in vitamin C, and in mineral salts (iron, phosphorus, manganese, copper, calcium and sulfur) and, consequently, is a powerful natural antibiotic. , a tonic and a diuretic, thus bringing benefits to those suffering from water retention and hypertension. Furthermore, the high sulfur content makes it ideal for hair care, as it activates the peripheral circulation of the blood and, therefore, exerts a stimulating action on the bulbs and scalp. Finally, it also has digestive and cardiovascular properties.The watercress plant is one of the basic components of Ayurvedic medicine, which gives it healing properties for asthma, cough, sprains (in the form of compresses), skin diseases, dysentery, diarrhea, dyspepsia, leucorrhea and scurvy.

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