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(Nasturtium family)


92 species in two genera are found from Mexico to temperate South America. All parts of the plant contain "mustard oil" as in Cruciferae (Willis 1973).

[Summary yet to be added]


90 species are found from Mexico to temperate South America. About 14 species are known in horticulture. The pickled seeds are used as a condiment having a mustard-like taste. The common name is from the Latin nasi tortium (distortion of the nose) referring to the pungent quality of the plant.

Tropaeolum majus
Garden Nasturtium

The plant has rubefacient properties (Burkill 1935). The plant contains a thioglucoside, glucotropaeolin (Kjaer 1963).

White (1887) reported two female patients in whom the plant repeatedly produced dermatitis. In the first case both hands were affected. In the second case, the right hand in which she carried the plants was affected and the left hand which had been gloved was unaffected. Contact sensitivity to mustard oil is noted under Raphanus, (fam. Cruciferae).


  • Burkill IH (1935) A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, Vols 1 & 2. London: Crown Agents [doi] [WorldCat] [url] [url-2]
  • Kjaer, A. (1963) The distribution of sulphur compounds. In: Chemical Plant Taxonomy. ed. Swain, T. London. Academic Press. p. 453.
  • Willis JC (1973) A Dictionary of the Flowering Plants and Ferns, 8th edn. (Revised by Airy Shaw HK). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press [WorldCat]

Richard J. Schmidt

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