Cress, the name given to several plants of the mustard family. All of them have green leaves used in salads and as garnishes. Watercress is related to the nasturtium. It grows wild in cool, shallow water in Europe and in many parts of the United States, and is also cultivated. The rounded, bright-green leaves grow on long stalks.
Garden cress is a hardy annual with a sharp flavor. It is popular as a garnish. Upland, or winter, cress is a weedy, rather bitter herb found in most of North America. It is related to early cress, which has a much better flavor. Rock cresses are frequently grown for ornament in rock gardens.
Cresses belong to the family Cruciferae. Watercress is Nasturtium officinale: garden cress, Lepidium sativum; upland cress, Barbarea vulgaris; early cress, B. verna. Rock cresses make up the genus Arabis.