The garden nasturtiums we grow today descend mainly from 2 species native to
Peru. The first, brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadors in the late 15th to
early 16th century, was Tropaeolum minus, a semi-trailing vine bearing spurred,
lightly scented orange-yellow flowers with dark red spots on the petals and
shield-shaped leaves. According to Jesuit missionaries, the Incas used
nasturtiums as a salad vegetable and as a medicinal herb.