Cress (Lepidium sativum)

Cress (Lepidium sativum)
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Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) is a fast-growing, edible plant botanically related to watercress and mustard and sharing their peppery, tangy flavor and aroma. In some regions garden cress is known as garden pepper cress, pepper grass or pepperwort.

Garden cress is a perennial plant, and an important green vegetable consumed by human beings, most typically as a garnish or as a leaf vegetable. Garden cress is found to contain significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. The garden cress produces an orange flower suitable for decorative use and also produces fruits which, when immature, are very much like caper berries. Garden cress is also used as a medicine in India in the system of ayurveda. It is used to prevent postnatal complications; the seeds of this plant perform as an abarsipent when boiled with milk.

Agriculturally, cress are considered among the most important species of the genus of the family of mustards. Cultivation of garden cress is practical on both mass scales and on the individual scale. Garden cress is suitable for hydroponic cultivation and thrives in water that is slightly alkaline. In many local markets the demand for hydroponically-grown cress far exceeds available supply. This is due in part to the fact that cress leaves are unsuitable for distribution in dried form, and thus can only marginally be preserved. Unmolested garden cress can grow to a height of two feet with minimal maintenance in a garden, however, the edible shoots are typically harvested just a week after germination.

Cress is commonly used in English sandwiches such as egg and cress sandwiches (made with shelled and crushed boiled eggs, mayonnaise, salt and some cress cuttings. Cress can be purchased live in most UK supermarkets.