watercress, hardy perennial European herb (Nasturtium officinale) of the family Cruciferae (or Brassicaceae; mustard family), widely naturalized in North America, found in or around water. Often cultivated commercially for the small, pungent leaflets, it is used as a peppery salad green or garnish. Other plants of the genus are sometimes called watercress and are used similarly. Watercress was formerly used as a domestic remedy and against scurvy. The ornamental plant whose common name is nasturtium is unrelated. Watercress is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Capparales (or Brassicales), family Cruciferae (or Brassicaceae).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants