Plants

Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Tropaeolum majus – Garden Nasturtium – is endemic to the Andes region of South America and is an invasive species in South Africa. The nearly-circular leaves with yellow or orange flowers, depending on the cultivar, are a common sight in damp and shady places, often in urban areas. Despite its common name, this plant is not a true Nasturtium like Watercress (Nasturtium officinale), but the plant is every bit as edible. All of the parts above the ground can be used – its flowers and leaves have a slightly peppery flavour and may be used in salads and stir-fries, or a leaf can be substituted to make unusual dolmades with.

One of the more interesting ways to use Garden Nasturtium is a preserve called Poor Man’s Capers. The green seeds are harvested after the flowering stage, usually in late spring or early summer, and are first boiled, then brined for up to three days to release their bitterness. Once that is done, the “capers” are rinsed and pickled. Click here for the full recipe.

This website takes a sustainable approach to foraging and doesn’t focus on protected or indigenous plants or fungi. Like the other invasive plants on this website, this is a species that should not be cultivated or propagated in South Africa. It’s often illegal to buy, sell or trade in exotic plants.

Learn how to forage with this South African foraging guide, or find out which South African books cover foraging

Other wild edible plants to forage in South Africa