Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Sonoran Desert Flora >>> Brassicaceae >>> Nasturtium officinale


Nasturtium officinale
(Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)

Rorippa photo © by Michael Plagens

Close-up of flowers. Rorippa oficinale photo by Mike Plagens

Photographed in Rackensack Canyon, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. April 2008.

ANNUAL: An aquatic annual found growing along mostly semipermanent waterways or close to springs. Plants rarely rise more than 8cm above the water surface.

LEAVES: Leaves are pinnately compound with five or so leaflets. Margins are normally wavy-toothede. Young stems and leaves are edible - waterborne parasites like giardia are a concern however.

RANGE: Introduced and widely cultivated; widespread in wet habitats across North America. Restricted to wet places the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico at springs and along flowing canyon bottoms.

FLOWERS: Many, compact flowers on mostly short spikes. Four white petals.

FRUIT: An oblong capsule with two rows of seeds.


Several Sonoran Desert butterflies have adapted to using this plant as a larval host. These include the Sara Orange-tip (Anthocharis sara) and the Checkered White (Pieris protodice).

Brassicaceae -- Mustard Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009