Garden cress
One mature Lepidium sativum rosette
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Lepidium
L. sativum
Binomial name
Lepidium sativum
  • Arabis chinensis Rottler ex Wight
  • Cardamon sativum (L.) Fourr.
  • Crucifera nasturtium E.H.L.Krause
  • Lepia sativa (L.) Desv.
  • Lepidium sativum var. spinescens (DC.) Jafri
  • Lepidium spinescens DC.
  • Nasturtium crispum Medik.
  • Nasturtium sativum (L.) Moench
  • Nasturtium spinescens (DC.) Kuntze
  • Thlaspi sativum (L.) Crantz
  • Thlaspidium sativum (L.) Spach

Cress (Lepidium sativum), sometimes referred to as garden cress (or curly cress) to distinguish it from similar plants also referred to as cress (from old Germanic cresso which means sharp, spicy), is a rather fast-growing, edible herb.

Garden cress is genetically related to watercress and mustard, sharing their peppery, tangy flavour and aroma. In some regions, garden cress is known as mustard and cress, garden pepper cress, pepperwort, pepper grass, or poor man's pepper.[2][3]

This annual plant can reach a height of 60 cm (24 in), with many branches on the upper part. The white to pinkish flowers are only 2 mm (116 in) across, clustered in small branched racemes.[4][5]

When consumed raw, cress is a high-nutrient food containing substantial content of vitamins A, C and K and several dietary minerals.

In agriculture

Cultivation of cress is practical both on mass scales and on the individual scale. Garden cress is suitable for hydroponic cultivation and thrives in slightly alkaline water. In many local markets, the demand for hydroponically grown cress can exceed available supply, partially because cress leaves are not suitable for distribution in dried form, so they can only be partially preserved. Consumers commonly acquire cress as seeds or (in Europe) from markets as boxes of young live shoots.[6]

Edible shoots are typically harvested in one to two weeks after planting, when they are 5–13 cm (2–5 in) tall.[7]

Culinary uses

Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavour.[7] It is also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning (haloon).[6] In the United Kingdom, cut cress shoots are commonly used in sandwiches with boiled eggs and mayonnaise.[8][9][10]

Garden cress, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy134 kJ (32 kcal)
5.5 g
Sugars4.4 g
Dietary fiber1.1 g
0.7 g
2.6 g
Vitamin A equiv.
346 μg
4150 μg
12500 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.08 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.26 mg
Niacin (B3)
1 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.247 mg
Vitamin B6
0.247 mg
Folate (B9)
80 μg
Vitamin C
69 mg
Vitamin E
0.7 mg
Vitamin K
541.9 μg
81 mg
1.3 mg
38 mg
0.553 mg
76 mg
606 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water89.4 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.


Raw cress is 89% water, 6% carbohydrates (including 1% dietary fiber), 3% protein and less than 1% fat (table). In a 100-gram (3+12-ounce) reference quantity, raw cress supplies 134 kilojoules (32 kilocalories) of food energy and numerous nutrients in significant content, including vitamin K (516% of the Daily Value, DV), vitamin C (83% DV) and vitamin A (43% DV). Among dietary minerals, manganese levels are high (26% DV) while several others, including potassium and magnesium, are in moderate content (table).

Other uses

The seeds of garden cress

Garden cress, known as chandrashoor, and the seeds, known as aaliv or aleev in Marathi, or halloon[11] in India, are commonly used in the system of Ayurveda.[12] It is also known as asario in India[13] and the Middle East where it is prized as a medicinal herb, called habbat al hamra (literally red seeds) in Arabic.[14] In the Arabian Peninsula, the seeds are traditionally mixed with custard to make a hot drink.[15]

L. sativum is often used in experiments to teach biology to students in schools; the plant grows readily on damp paper or cotton, and its fast germination and development time makes it useful in demonstrating plant growth.[16]

Further information: Garden cress oil


See also


  1. ^ "Lepidium sativum L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  2. ^ Cassidy, Frederic Gomes and Hall, Joan Houston. Dictionary of American regional English, Harvard University Press, 2002. Page 97. ISBN 0-674-00884-7, ISBN 978-0-674-00884-7
  3. ^ Staub, Jack E, Buchert, Ellen. 75 Exceptional Herbs for Your Garden Published by Gibbs Smith, 2008. ISBN 1-4236-0251-X, 9781423602514
  4. ^ Vegetables of Canada. Published by NRC Research Press. ISBN 0-660-19503-8, ISBN 978-0-660-19503-2
  5. ^ Boswell, John T. and Sowerby, James. English Botany: Or, Coloured Figures of British Plants. Robert Hardwicke, 1863. Page 215.
  6. ^ a b Vegetables of Canada. NRC Research Press. ISBN 0-660-19503-8, ISBN 978-0-660-19503-2
  7. ^ a b Hirsch, David P.. The Moosewood Restaurant kitchen garden: creative gardening for the adventurous cook. Ten Speed Press, 2020. ISBN 1-58008-666-7, ISBN 978-1-58008-666-0
  8. ^ "Homegrown Egg & Cress Sandwich". Prestige. Meyer Corporation. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  9. ^ "Tesco Egg & Cress Sandwich". Tesco. Tesco. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  10. ^ Cloake, Felicity. "How to make the perfect egg mayonnaise sandwich". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  11. ^ "ORGANIC INDIA, Organic Herbs - Garden Cress". Archived from the original on 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
  12. ^ The Wealth of Indian Raw Materials. New Delhi: Publication and information Directorate. 1979. pp. CSIR Vol 9, Page 71–72.
  13. ^ mahendra. "Asario Seeds Suppliers". krishna india. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  14. ^ "Traditional cookery, craft lessons from Emirati housewives". The National. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  15. ^ "Haba Al Hamra Drink with Custard". Taste of Emarat. 2015-11-01. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  16. ^ "Using Cress in the Lab". Retrieved 2021-02-27.