Watercress is a low growing perennial to 50cm. It may be used as a garnish, in salads and sandwiches, added to herb butters, dressings, fish sauces, casseroles, soups, and are also made into teas.
The leaves have a mustardy bite that makes them compliment strongly flavoured meats such as game. The leaves are most commonly served raw as a garnish to eggs or meat, or as part of a salad with orange segments. Watercress also makes a pleasingly peppery soup that is as good hot as it is chilled.
Can be grown in garden soil provided it is given plenty of water and will crop from early summer till winter. You can also grow it in a container stood in a saucer of water.
SOW: September to March (Sow in a punnet of quality compost and submerge the punnet into water half way up)
Ancient Romans thought eating it would cure mental illness. Twelfth-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen thought eating it steamed and drinking the water would cure jaundice or fever. Watercress was eaten by Native Americans. Some Native Americans used it to treat kidney illnesses and constipation, and it was thought by some to be an aphrodisiac. Early African Americans used the plant as an abortifacient; it was believed to cause sterility as well.