Tropaeolum

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Tropaeolum

 

a genus of sometimes tuberous and frequently climbing perennial or annual herbaceous plants of the family Tropaeolaceae. The stems are succulent and branching. The alternate leaves are most often long-petioled, peltate, lobed, or palmatipartite. The axillary, solitary flowers are usually large, bisexual, zygomorphic, and spurred; they are yellow, orange, or red. There are five sepals; the corolla, which usually has five petals, is sometimes bilabiate. The fruit is a schizocarp and consists of three single-seeded carpels.

There are approximately 80 species of Tropaeolum, distributed primarily in South America in forests and thickets from Peru to Colombia and Venezuela, mainly in the Andes. Most species are ornamentals. The best-known annual forms of Tropaeolum are hybrid varieties of the garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and of a number of other species. These hybrids are united under the name of X T. cultorum. Tuberous species are raised in greenhouses; the tubers of some species are edible. The buds and immature fruits can be used like capers.