Herb: Cress

Latin name: Lepidium sativum

Family: Cruciferae

Medicinal use of Cress:

The leaves are antiscorbutic, diuretic and stimulant. The plant is administered in cases of asthma, cough with expectoration and bleeding piles. The root is used in the treatment of secondary syphilis and tenesmus. The seeds are galactogogue. They have been boiled with milk and used to procure an abortion, they have been applied as a poultice to pains and hurts and have also been used as an aperient.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Cress:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. A hot cress-like flavour, it makes an excellent addition (in small quantities) to the salad bowl. An analysis is available. Root is used as a condiment. A hot pungent flavour, but the root is rather small and woody. The fresh or dried seedpods can be used as a pungent seasoning. The seed can be sprouted in relatively low light until the shoots are a few centimetres long and then be used in salads. They take about 7 days to be ready and have a pleasantly hot flavour. An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed yields up to 58% of an edible oil that can also be used for lighting.

Propagation of Cress:

Seed - if you want a succession of young leaves then it is possible to sow the seed in situ every 3 weeks in succession from early spring to early autumn. Germination is very rapid, usually taking place in less than a week. When sowing seed for use in mustard and cress, the seed is soaked for about 12 hours in warm water and then placed in a humid position. Traditionally, it is sown in a tray on a thin layer of soil, or on some moist blotting paper, and the tray is placed in a warm dark place for a few days to encourage rapid and rather etiolated growth. The seedlings can then be placed in a lighter position for a couple more days to turn green before being eaten. The cress seed should be sown about 3 - 4 days before the mustard for them both to be ready at the same time.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Lepidium sativum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.