Water Cress

Never saw water cress brought up in this forum before but we harvest it wild in the summer since i was a small child in pure cold water spring waters. They dont have springs like that in Kansas and few places do now. If you grow cress in still water there are flukes that grow with it that will make your organs look like swiss cheese and eventually kill you. Same goes for your animals. If you have cress like this from some backwoods spring or grown inside under careful conditions its very delicious. You might just find it best to get it from the store. Its very smooth and delicious like lettuce but has just a bit of pepper to it. Skeptical about the flukes? Here is a link CDC - Liver Flukes to tell you about them but just for the record this batch came from the store. Clearly those of you who are hydroponic growers this is a green i would jump on. Im not sure about aquaponics but as long as the fish were grown in an isolated system i would think you would be ok.


We ate cress in NW Arkansas and SW Missouri in the 50’s, and I’ve had it once in Montana, but I avoid it now for the reasons you state (giardia rather than flukes, though). Good stuff. It’s a mustard, ain’t it?


Had no idea on the flukes and giardia. I was looking at growing some in a kiddie pool this year will pass after reading this.

1 Like

@marknmt No its a vegetable of its own. Yes arkansas and southern missouri might be some of the last places to eat it and not die from the cress in the United States. You could die from the water moccasins and copperheads that covet those same spots. They were all around me last time making a clear statement that though i gathered cress in that spot 40 years maybe i was not fast enough to continue to do so.
@Leif79 that was the reason why im posting is some of this knowledge needs shared. Im afraid those of us who eat it have preserved our ancient spots and not divulged or ever brought up its existence or anything at all about it. Some relatives said people moved into their area and watched locals gathering poke greens and died from it because they did not know how to process it. Similarly people do not know the dangers or goodness of this green. Hydroponic farms could make a fortune from this green in comparison to lettuce so if you think about it its kind of a win win situation if growers are aware of it now. The wild cress was always a treat to our family and the family member most likely to survive tjat wild country would go get it. The hills protecting our main patch are near straight drops of limestone now covered with multiflora roses and copperheads. There is a thick leaf cover full of seed ticks and copperheads. Wild bear , panthers and wild hogs though rare do live there and we have seen them. Thinking of gathering cress in that spring at the bottom surrounded by poisonous snakes and other hostile things made me laugh when i picked up those bundles 2 for $1.


Water cress is probably the easiest thing to grow hydroponically, it grows like a weed and propagates itself readily.

There is also a thing called upland cress I believe, that can be grown in soil. Not exactly an alternative to water cress, but worth trying.

1 Like

How can you tell the difference in cress? The soil variety might be just what we need. Water cress grows on top of water but this came with roots so i assumed they grew it hydroponically but using some dirt medium. I told my mom i found it odd as did she and she replied it must be domesticated some beyond what we have seen. Perhaps this is upland cress. That rootball threw me. We both ate it and the taste was very similar to wild cress but tasted tame.

@Leif79, if you can grow your own (and don’t have sheep or cattle or beaver about the kiddie pool) then the flukes and giardia won’t be an issue for you. Go for it- but don’t let the critturs in your irrigation system!

@clarkinks No, it is a “mustard”, just not the kind that gets ground for mustard! Watercress - Wikipedia Watercress. Think radish, that kind of thing.

1 Like

I see a member of the family not it is the same …that makes sense.

1 Like

I remember cottonmouths (water mocassins) and copperheads. Did my best not to cross them, especially mocassins. My dad said they were so mean they’d try to lure you into the water!

1 Like

They will indeed people dont know them like i do and it sounds like you do as well @marknmt
Your people must be from that area to know that much. Arkansas is a wild place straight up and down, poverty, and about a million ways to get killed. We never seem to get killed though. Cottonmouth are highly aggressive in that area because they are not used to seeing people. Lets say i did not stay long. They tolerate my presence for a time. Oklahoma (dry) and Missouri are mildly different from Arkansas. Missouri has water and cress (plenty of both like arkansas). Nebraska and Colorado and Wyoming you trade water and cottonmouth for drought and rattlers. Finally you wind up in Texas and you find all of the above there and you run into gulf water to keep you from going any further. The kansas river goes to the missouri and that goes to the mississippi which takes all those cottonmouth down stream into the gulf but most of you know that. The arkansas big and little are hardly worth mentioning anymore. My point is a couple of states only had a cress population that was ever safe and its all but dissapeared and whats left except for in one spot i know of isnt safe. Much of missouri has pollution now particullarly close to saint louis.

I was born in Eureka Springs in 1950, left AR in 1968 and settled in here. I never felt at risk there, wandered around the Ozarks, dodged snakes a few times but went everywhere! Once or as kids we got a little lost but eventually came out where we needed to be.

We grew up watching for snakes, but the truth is the snakes just don’t want to be surprised. If you’re clumsy enough (i.e., make lots of noise!) most of the time you won’t see snakes! What really worried Dad was caves and rivers. There you can get turned around.

Up here people worry about grizzlies and maybe cougars, but you have to work pretty hard to find a grizzly; cougars, could be. But my main bugaboo would be moose. Cantankerous, big, unpredictable and powerful as all get out. I always carry pepper spray now, and I’m thinking about selling my hunting rifle and just carrying a pistol. Oh, and now we have wolves. Never encountered one (have heard them and seen sign) but I would like to be prepared for them. Very neat animals, just don’t want to be dinner for 'em!


Guess it depends where you are in Arkansas lol. I think they had less wild hogs back then but they always had a lot of poisonous snakes. My aunt by a marriage stepped on a dirt ball in the creek and a bunch of baby cottonmouths shot their heads up as she walked on them. My grandma walked through the water. The snakes are the most dangerous and cotton mouth are highly territorial in some cases and others not at all. There is a natural rock water slide in missouri and i slid many time past cottonmouths there and they were not aggressive. Where i pick cress even copperhead are aggressive. The entire areas there are a honey comb of underground caves and rivers, huge holes in the ground etc. Its very dangerous. Limestone your walking on is being eaten out from underground by the rivers. The watercress is delicious. @marknmt you were likely accustomed to the ticks, snakes etc and so it was just home. In kansas i had a woman who is a friend ask me to carry her back because she was unable to handle the heat , others find the -20 temps at times and wind to be unbearable but Montana is much colder. Texas is much hotter its just what people grow up around.

1 Like

Very good information came from this discussion. Upland cress sounds very interesting indeed https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/difference-between-upland-cress-baby-watercress-article
" The Most Nutrient-Dense Vegetable, Now More Delicious
Watercress is high in nutrients, big on flavor…and sort of a slog to prep. Luckily, there are other ways to get hooked on cress—none of which involves those tough, woody stems.

May 17, 2016

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Alex Brannian, Food Styling by Ali Nardi

*We’re spending 30 days digging into groceries—how to shop for them, where to shop for them, and what to do when the lady in front of you has more than 12 items in her basket.
There are so many reasons to love watercress, not the least of which is how good for you it is. (According to the CDC, it’s the most nutrient-dense vegetable you can eat.)

Despite all of its wonderfulness, mature watercress has thick, woody stems that aren’t yummy or even easy to eat, and that make the greens a bit annoying to prep. So when faced with the choice, I used to buy baby arugula instead.


How to Peel a Dozen Eggs in 104 Seconds

But this winter I noticed a couple alternatives in grocery stores: bagged baby watercress and upland cress. Both were in the specialty produce section, hidden away from the rest of the salad greens, but once I knew where to find them, I was hooked.

Image may contain Plant Food Produce Vegetable and Arugula

Photo by B&W Quality Growers

B&W Quality Growers started harvesting and selling the baby variety of watercress this year, after hearing from chefs and consumers that mature watercress is difficult to prepare. Their new product has less stem, and the stems it does have are tender and easy to eat. It’s the only baby watercress sold in grocery stores right now, and they’re able to offer it year-round across the country thanks to a system farms in eight states with different climates. I find the baby watercress to be super flavorful and fresh, and I’ve been using it in all the same ways I’ve used mature watercress: in a salad with warm mustard dressing, and even in my morning smoothies.

As for upland cress, it isn’t actually watercress at all, but rather a watercress look-alike. Usually sold with the roots still attached, upland cress has the same flavor and nutrient density as watercress, but its stems and leaves are thinner and more tender, like baby watercress.

Brian Cook, the VP of marketing and sales over at Hollandia produce, the biggest producer of upland cress in the states, helps sort out the difference between the two cresses: “While they both stem from the nutrient rich Brassica family, watercress and upland cress are from a different genus, or family of plants. Watercress is from the genus Nasturtium. Upland Cress, on the other hand, is from the genus Barbarea.”

Photo by Hollandia Produce

When you buy upland cress that’s attached to the roots, you shouldn’t cut it off the roots until just before you’re ready to use it. It’ll keep longer in the fridge (up to a week) but you can also keep it out on the counter—either way, check the roots after a few days and add a splash of water if they’re drying out. Cook advises against removing it from it’s packaging: “A lot of research and innovation goes into the packaging we use for our products. It is best to keep them in the same packaging and seal them appropriately” to ensure freshness.

Snipping upland cress off the roots into my salad bowl is about as close to gardening as I get these days, so I actually relish the experience. And I’d much rather be snipping off roots than tough, woody stems."


You mention sheep, cattle, and beaver I don’t have any livestock in an urban area thought about poultry they wont contaminate the water will they?

1 Like

Maybe flukes are why I don’t have as much energy anymore? (I was thinking it was getting old!)

Seriously, good topic. And good greens.

Limestone (high pH) and cold water produce the best results, but I’ve grown and eaten it from backyard waterfeature…having just washed it thoroughly (actually usually cooking it with dandelions, mustard and other pot herbs…including poke in season).

And, the upland cress is great too…and easier to harvest than swimming with snakes!

1 Like

Don’t know. If you find out please tell me!

1 Like

Read up on the fluke infection if you have reason to be concerned Liver Fluke: Treatment and How to Spot Symptoms


In Northern Michigan we have tons of watercress growing in just about every small stream everywhere and no dangerous snakes. I eat it whenever camping up north. I love watercress.


Sounds like paradise in the north. I did not know any such places still exist

1 Like

We have it in a lot of springs in the Ozarks. I’ve never encountered any snake that I would consider aggressive. I’ve been around snakes and captured them my whole life and never had one come after me, they will defend themselves if stepped on or cornered but none of them ever went out of their way to attack. You must have some different snakes all together.