Cress, or Cresses, Sisymbrium L. a genus of plants, consisting of forty-one species, eight of which are natives : the principal of these are :
1. The Nasturtium, or common water-cress, which is found in springs, brooks, and rivulets. It is perennial, and produces white flowers that are in bloom in June or July. The leaves have a moderately pungent taste, and penetrating smell, somewhat similar to, though much weaker than that of mustard-seed. Water-cresses are universally used and eaten as an early and wholesome spring salad. Being an excellent antiscorbutic and stomachic, they are nearly allied to scurvy-grass, but do not possess so great a degree of acrimony. They are also supposed to purify the blood and humours, and to open visceral obstructions.
2. The amphibium, or Radish-Water-cress, growing in watery places, and on the banks of rivers. It is perennial, and produces yellow flowers, which blow from June to August. Its roots may be used as a substitute for common radishes. Sheep and goats do not relish this plant, and it is never touched by cows.
3. The Sophia, or Flix-weed Water-cress, which is found on old walls, and among rubbish. It is annual, and bears yellow flowers, in July, which are succeeded by long, stiff, crooked pods, containing yellow seeds : these remain in their capsules the whole winter, and not only support the small birds during that inclement season, but have occasionally been employed with success, as a vermifuge. The plant is eaten by cows and sheep ; but is not relished either by horses, goats, or hogs.