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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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cress a name derived from a Greek word meaning to creep, and loosely used for a large number of low-growing plants with small leaves, whose common use is in salads, although they may also be cooked. Most of them belong to the same family as the mustards and they are usually more or less pungent in taste; leaves or seeds of some have been used as a peppery condiment.

Some cresses grow in water. The only one of these to be cultivated is described under watercress.

The other main cultivated cress is garden cress,Lepidium sativum, and it is this, with its tiny leaves, which ought to be present in boxes labelled ‘mustard and cress’. It is a native of W. Asia, but its main use is in Europe and N. America.