1. (Science: botany) A genus of cruciferous plants, having white or yellowish flowers, including several species of cress. They are found chiefly in wet or damp grounds, and have a pungent biting taste.
2. (Science: botany) Any plant of the genus Tropaeolum, geraniaceous herbs, having mostly climbing stems, peltate leaves, and spurred flowers, and including the common indian cress (Tropaeolum majus), the canary-bird flower (T. Peregrinum), and about thirty more species, all natives of south America. The whole plant has a warm pungent flavor, and the fleshy fruits are used as a substitute for capers, while the leaves and flowers are sometimes used in salads.
Origin: L. Nasturtium, for nasitortium, fr. Nasus nose – torquere, tortum, to twist, torture, in allusion to the causing one to make a wry face by its pungent taste. See Nose of the face, and Torture.