Sunday, 23 July 2017

Land cress



Land cress (Barbarea vulgaris or Barbarea verna) is a wonderful peppery green. It is easy to cultivate - low maintenance and abundant.  Great in pots too.

It's a herb that thrives in cool, moist soil and partial shade and it only takes a few weeks before you can start eating the side leaves.

It is similar in flavour to garden cress (Lepidium sativum) and watercress (Nasturium officianale) - an aquatic plant found near springs and slow-moving streams. 

About land cress

Land cress is a native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Land cress has been cultivated as a leaf vegetable in England since the 17th century. 

In temperate climates it can be grown almost all year round - except in the really cold winters. Here in the subtropics, it's a winter only green. It will bolt to seed quickly as soon as it warms up - but then I can eat the flowers and collect the seeds.

Land cress is also known as ... American cress, bank cress, black wood cress, Belle Isle cress, Bermuda cress, early yellowrocket, early wintercress, scurvy cress, creasy greens, and upland cress

'Barbarea', a genus of plants also know as winter cress or yellow rocket, is a collection of about 22 species of flowering plants in the Brassica family. 

The genus name ‘Barbarea' is derived from the early Greek Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen and miners. This plant was used to soothe the wounds caused by explosions. ‘Vulgaris' is a Latin adjective meaning common.

Because land cress is closer to its wilder cousins in the brassica family, it has fewer pest problems. It has natural insect resistance and Gardening Australia presenter, Jerry Coleby-Williams, tells of how his nanna used it in her "Dig for Victory" gardens in England as a valuable companion plant keeping caterpillars away from cabbages.  https://jerry-coleby-williams.net/2014/11/01/nannys-cabbage-companion-confirmed-caterpillar-killer-by-university-of-queensland/


Health benefits of land cress

Deep green land cress is a very healthy plant to eat. It has twice the vitamin A as broccoli, and tree times the vitamin C found in oranges. It also contains vitamins B and E, iron and calcium.

Eating land cress

Land cress has a  peppery spinach kale like flavour. They can be cooked or eaten raw in salads. Like all brassicas, the yellow flowers are edible too.

The leaves of land cress are great in salad and sandwiches. Use it like a spicy spinach and make soup, pasta sauce, add it to curries, stews and thinks like spanakopita. I like to add it to my winter pesto too.

The seeds can be sprouted and added to a salad too.

Do you have a favourite recipe with land cress?

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1 comment:

  1. Not something I've heard of before. Looked it up and apparently it's native to Eurasia and North America. Not aware of it here in the UK though, maybe it's not grown as much as it was in the 'Dig for Victory' days! Thanks for the post, will investigate.

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