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Watercress

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer

Watercress was one of the first green vegetables we have evidence of early humans eating.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Watercress
Scientific Name Nasturtium officinale
Season Start Mar
Season End Nov
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Opposite oval  leaves with a smooth or wavy margin and a larger terminal leaf at the end.

Flowers

A small cluster of white cruciform flowers with six yellow stamen which will mature into small seed pods.

Seed Pods

Small green pods looking similar to pea pods.

Stem

Hollow and usually floating although they can be erect or when lying along the ground can develop rootlets at the leaf nodes. The stems are usually green but can be red to purple.

Habitat

Slow moving shallow water, ponds and wet ditches.

Possible Confusion

Fools Watercress, pictured, although a crush and smell of the leaves of Fools Watercress will reveal a strong smell of carrot, it is also edible so confusing the two is not a dangerous mistake to make.
Lesser  Water Parsnip, Berula erecta is more upright, smells of parsnip and has rings around the stems at the leaf nodes but is not poisonous.

Smell

Like cress or a bit peppery.

Taste

Hot and cress like.

Frequency

Fairly common but not as common as Fools Watercress.

Collecting

When collecting Watercress from the wild it must be cooked as out of site upstream there might be sheep and if so there is the potential for liver flukes, which can cause fascioliasis, a nasty liver disease.

Medicinal Uses

Watercress contains iodine and high levels of vitamin K so should be included in your diet although it must be cooked when found in the wild.

COMMENTS

2 comments for Watercress

  1. Brian Jakins says:

    I belong to a fly fishing club in the U.K. and this hot (2018) summer there has been so much watercress on our rivers that trout fishing in August through to October has been almost impossible to carry out. What we are concerned about is if we leave these enormous tranches of watercress in place – will the seedpods germinate and will we get the same profusion of watercress in the same places every year now?

    Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      Hi Brian
      Last summer was quite a bloom due to the weather; I would expect it to continue growing in similar quantities though, more seeds in the right conditions = more plants.
      Eat your way through it 😉

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