Water-cress

©Northeast Wildlife

Water-cress

Scientific name: Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum
Water-cress has become so popular as a salad addition that it is now cultivated on a wide scale. In the wild, it grows in shallow, fast-flowing streams and is an indicator of clean water.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 60cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Water-cress is an evergreen aquatic plant that grows in thick drifts in shallow, clear water (especially fast-flowing streams) all around the UK. Its leaves float on the surface of the water and it flowers from May to October. Traditionally hand-picked from the wild as a useful salad addition, it became popular in the 18th century and is now cultivated on a commercial scale.

How to identify

Water-cress has hollow stems and green, divided leaves with rounded leaflets that float on the surface of the water. Small, white-and-green flowers appear in clusters.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but scarcer in North Scotland.

Did you know?

Finding Water-cress growing in a stream is a sign of clean water as it does not tolerate pollution. However, if you wish to pick it wild, make sure it is well-washed before you add it to your salad. The leaves are a good source of vitamin C and this plant is the source of a number of medicines.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.