Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Tropical Forests to Twelfth Century >> Tropieolum


species, frequently and flowers

TROPIEOLUM, a genus of annual and perennial herbs of the family Tropaeolacece. The species, of which there are about 45, are natives of South America, particularly Chile and Peru, whence many have been taken to all the warmer parts of the world to be grown in gardens for their odd, conspicuous flowers. They are mostly climbing vines, with alternate, usually simple, peltate leaves, from the axils of which the generally long-peduncled, irregu lar, usually yellow, orange or red, sometimes blue or purple, flowers are produced singly. Several species, especially T. tuberosum, pro duce edible tubers which are used for food in the tropics. The leaves and flowers of a few species are used as salads, for which their peculiar peppery flavor especially fits them. Their young, tender pods are often pickled and in this form are frequently employed as a sub stitute for capers. The species most used in this way are T. majus and T. minus, known as nasturtium, Indian cress and yellow larkspur, names which better fit plants 'of other families.

Another species in popular use is T. Phorum, which, like T. majus, is commonly employed as a climber upon porches, balconies and banks. The canary-bird flower (T. pere grinum) is probably more often grown i in doors than out, in the north, T minus s a dwarf, non-climbing species which blossoms earlier and more profusely than others; it is frequently used in beds and borders. Few plants arc more frequently satisfactory and popular than the nasturtiums. They will thrive in any garden soil if well exposed to the sun, and not allowed to become very dry. Since they are tender to frost they are either sown rather late or are started under glass and transplanted when the weather becomes settled. Especially fine specimens may be propagated by cuttings, and tuberous species should be dug and stored during the winter. The peren nials seem to require richer soil than the annuals.