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Alternative to Watercress

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2010

I’ve recently seen a green called upland cress for sale at my supermarket. Is it the same as watercress?

Upland cress is a close relative of watercress and goes by many names, including American cress, early yellow rocket, and land cress. Although watercress is a semi-aquatic plant that grows along riverbanks and lakes and in hydroponic gardens, upland cress makes its home in dry soil.

Like watercress, upland cress is commonly used in salads or as a garnish on sandwiches, but it holds up better than its frailer cousin, which wilts easily. When we tasted upland cress, we thought its flavor somewhat resembled that of watercress but had more in common with the peppery bite of arugula. If you’re looking for a less perishable substitute for watercress (or a green with the sharp taste of arugula), upland cress is an excellent choice.


Unlike delicate watercress, which bruises easily and is quick to wilt, upland cress retains its crisp texture for some time once dressed.