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Black Velvet NasturtiumTropaeolum minus
Black Nasturtium
The blossoms, leaves and buds of this Fire herb are edible and have a peppery taste. The blooms have a soft sweet scent up close and attract hummingbirds. This magick herb is often associated with Ostara. It's a native of Peru that was brought back to Europe by the Conquistadors in the late 15th-early 16th century.  The Incas ate it as a salad vegetable, and in South America it was used to treat wounds. The Sun King was so taken with these plants that he had them displayed in his garden (and perhaps that's why some consider this a Sun herb).  The Renaissance herbalist John Gerard considered nasturtium to be a kind of cress, but it is actually not related to cress (Nasturtium officinale). Nasturtiums are a Colonial plant - they've grown in the US since at least 1759. The flowers were a favorite of the Victorians, and in the language of flowers, they stand for patriotism and fatherly love. Nasturtium is good for ritual work requiring an increase of energy or for rites meant to burn away aspects of the self. This is also a nice plant for cottage gardens. Top

Nasturtium is antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial due to the mustard oils in the plant. Chewing the leaves is a good way to disinfect one's mouth.  The leaves are also very tasty in potato salad or egg salad and on cream cheese sandwiches. They're a means for boosting appetite and stimulating digestion. The flowers are less peppery; they contain a lot of vitamin C and make an excellent flavoring (and coloring) for vinegar and are beautiful in a delicate tossed salad. This might be a Fire plant, but the leaves seem Moon-like. To Linnaeus, the 18th-century naturalist who developed the system of plant names commonly used in the West today, the leaves looked like shields, and so he gave the plant the name Tropaeolum, from tropaeum, shield-like. Nasturtium is a good plant for children to grow (along with sunflowers), because the seeds are big and they are reliable growers. The plant is also known as Capucine cress (the the flower shapes, which are thought to resemble the hoods of Capucine monks), Indian cress. This is one of the first plants that Harold, founder of Alchemy Works, ever grew and it remains a favorite. Top

Nasturtium FairyHow to grow: After danger of frost is past, soak seeds in tepid water overnight and plant them outside in well drained soil or in a pot about 1/2" deep (up to the first joint of your pointer finger). This plant like soil on the sandy side and not too rich. Plant in full sun where the summers are not too hot; otherwise, grow in morning sun. Harold grew these in an urn on the east side of his old house (in upstate NY) and got flowers but would have gotten more in a sunnier area. We grew them in a planter on our south-facing front balcony (in Rhode Island) a few years back and had plenty of blooms. Don't fertilize, or you will have many leaves but few flowers, but keep them well watered so they do not get too hot. Some people have good luck using nasturtiums to trap bugs away from vegetables or other crops. If you notice that the leaves are looking wilty, check the undersides for tiny aphids. (Aphids loved eating ours!) If you see them, wash them off with soapy water or insecticidal soap like Safer. This plant is an annual. Collect seeds and save them in a cool, dry place to plant next year.

This is a non-vining variety that gets 12"/30cm tall and that blooms from June to October. The young flowers are a dark Victorian brown; the older flowers are almost black. General growing info. Top

Tropaeolum minus
Black Nasturtium
12 seeds $3.75

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Celebrating Ostara
Elemental Magic
Fire Herb 

Victorian Favorite
Other black flowers

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