To Linnaeus, the venerable giver of plant names, the broad circular leaves suggested battle-shields and the the flowers reminded him of helmets stained with blood. From the Latin for trophy, Tropaeolum, the plant derived its name. Its resemblace to the peppery taste and flavor of watercress, which actually belongs to the genus Nasturtium, Latin for pungency, led to its other name—Indian cress.
If you observe the sinuous stems, translucent with sap, and the way they branch out to support leaves of varying sizes, some quite enormous, you will notice the veins forming harlequin patterns. The buds show up with a little spur, curling like a comma. And then they unfurl, slowly, tantalizingly, opening to reveal dark guiding tracks on two petals leading to nectar sacs while the three remaing serve as a landing pad for a visiting bee. When the petals eventually wither and drop, a seed remains—pale green, ridged, globular. Continue for larger image “Tropaeolum Majus” »