Creasy Greens (Upland Cress)
Origin: Western Asia & Southern Europe
Improvement status: Cultivated wild material
Seeds per packet: ~400
Germination tested 12/2021: 98%
Life cycle: Biennial or occasionally short-lived perennial
Also called land cress, bitter cress, winter cress, and Belle Isle cress, this cabbage-family biennial (or short-lived perennial) from western Asia and southern Europe has become naturalized around the world. The taste is similar to watercress, but it is much easier to grow (needs no water beyond that which falls from the sky). Long cultivated as a vegetable, it is most well-known these days as a weed, but for many people it is still a treasured heirloom — not least because at various points in history it has been a lifeline. As a critical source of Vitamin C and other nutrients, it has prevented scurvy for untold numbers of people through the years. Stories abound of people in life-threatening situations relying on this plant for vital nutrition, from shipwrecked sailors in Europe to enslaved African people in the US — both while enduring slavery and on the run, living by their wits and foraging for whatever could be found.
Our seeds come from the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance (UCFA), who got them from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE). The name "creasy greens" applies most to this species when it is cooked like collard greens, but that's the name SESE uses for it, so that's the name we're using too. 50% of the cost of every packet sold will be returned to UCFA.