By: Elna Botes van Schalkwyk
Number One Flower Eating Rule! Before you eat ANY flower, please read this tip!
You must KNOW what you're eating. This seems basic, but it's amazing how many people will eat anything. You simply MUST know what you're eating. Identifythe flower you plan to eat. NEVER guess if it's edible or not. KNOW if it's edible. Many flowers are toxic, some are fatal if eaten!
Edible vs. Flavorful:
Understand that just because a flower may be edible, it may not be something you'd like on your salad. African marigolds are edible but you wouldn't want them on a salad! The same goes for fuschia blossoms, lovely, but awful. Use small quantities of any blossoms you end up using. A few petals of chive blossoms is great, but the entire flower would be grimace-inducingto try to eat at once! A sliver of a red tulip petal is delicious (tastes like a raw pea) and just lovely on a salad plate, but an entire flower? Yuck! Unless you want to taste an overwhelming pea flavor. Usually smaller is better.
- Angelica/Angelica archangelicaMay be skin allergen to some individuals. Good with fish and the stems are especially popular candied. Tastes like: celery-flavored.
- Anise HyssopAgastache foeniculumTastes like: sweet, anise-like, licorice
- AppleMalus speciesEat in moderation; may contain cyanide precursors. Tastes like: delicate floral flavor
- ArugulaEruca vesicariaTastes like: nutty, spicy, peppery flavor
- BasilOcimum basilicumTastes like: different varieties have different milder flavors of the corresponding leaves. Tastes like: lemon, mint.
- Bee BalmMonarda speciesUsed in place of bergamot to make a tea with a flavor similar to Earl Grey Tea.
- BorageBorago officinalisTaste like: light cucumber flavor.
- BurnetSanguisorba minorTastes like: faint cucumber flavor, very mild.
- CalendulaCalendula officinalisTastes like: poor man's saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods.
- CarnationDianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus)Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like
- ChamomileChamaemelum nobileTastes like: faint apple flavor, good as a tea.
- Chives: GardenAllium schoenoprasumTastes like: mild onion flavor.
- Chives: GarlicAllium tuberosumTastes like: garlicky flavor
- Chrysanthemum: GarlandChrysanthemum coronariumTastes like: slight to bitter flavor, pungent.
- Citrus: LemonCitrus limonTastes like: waxy, pronounced flavor, use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters.
- CloverTrifolium speciesRaw flowerheads can be difficult to digest.
- CorianderCoriander sativumPungent. A prime ingredient in salsa and many Latino and Oriental dishes.Tastes like: Some palates detect a disagreeable soapy flavor while others adore it.
- CornflowerCentaurea cynaus (aka Bachelor's Buttons)Tastes like: sweet to spicy, clove-like.
- DandelionTaraxacum officinalisTastes like: very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.
- Day LilyHemerocallis speciesMany Lilies (Lillium species) contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Daylillies may act as a laxative. Tastes like: sweet, crunchy, like a crisp lettuce leaf, faintly like chestnuts or beans.
- DillEnglish DaisyBellis perennisTastes like: tangy, leafy.
- FennelFoeniculum vulgareTastes like: sweet, licorice flavor.
- FuchsiaFuchsia X hybridaTastes like: slightly acidic.
- GardeniaGardenia jasminoidesTastes like: light, sweet flavor.
- GladiolusGladiolus sppTastes like: similar to lettuce.
- HibiscusHibiscus rosa-sinensisTastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage.
- HollyhockAlcea rosea
Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor.
JapaneseLonicera japonicaBerries are highly poisonous. Do not eat them!
- HyssopHyssopus officinalisShould be avoided by pregnant women and by those with hypertension and epilepsy.
- ImpatiensImpatiens walleranaTastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor.
- Jasmine: ArabianJasminum sambacTastes like: delicate sweet flavor, used for teas.
- LavenderLavendula speciesLavender oil may be poisenous. Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumey flavor.
- Lemon VerbenaAloysia triphyllaTastes like: lemony flavor, usually steeped for tea.
- LilacSyringa vulgarisTastes like: lemony, floral, pungent.
- Mallow: CommonMalva sylrestrisTastes like: sweet, delicate flavor.
- Marigold: SignetTagetes tenuifolia (aka T. signata)Tastes like: spicy to bitter.
- MarjoramOriganum majorana
- MintMentha species
- MustardBrassica speciesEating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches.
- NasturtiumTropaeolum majusBuds are often pickled and used like capers.
Tastes like: sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor.
- OkraAbelmoschus aesculentus (Hibiscus esculentus)Tastes like: similar to squash blossoms.
- PansyViola X wittrockianaTastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor.
- PeaPisum speciesFlowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.
- Pineapple GuavaFeijoa sellowianaTastes like: similar to the ripe fruit of the plant, flavorful.
- PrimrosePrimula vulgarisBirdseye Primrose (P. farinosa) causes contact dermatitis.
Tastes like: bland to sweet flavor.
- RadishRaphanus sativusTastes like: milder, sweeter version of the more familiar radish heat.
- RedbudCercis canadensisTastes like: mildly sweet.
- RoseRosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalisTastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible (see Rose Hips Recipes).
- RosemaryRosmarinus officinalisTastes like: pine-like, sweet, savory.
- Runner BeanPhaseolus coccineusTastes like: nectar, bean-like.
- SafflowerCarthamus tinctoriusAnother "poor man's saffron" without the pungent aroma or strong flavor of the real thing.
- SageSalvia officinalisSage should not be eaten in large amounts over a long period of time.
Tastes like: varies by type.
- Scented GeraniumPelargonium speciesCitronella variety may not be edible.
Tastes like: varies with differing varieties from lemon to mint.
- SnapdragonAntirrhinum majusTastes like: bland to bitter flavor.
- Society GarlicTulbaghia violaceaTastes like: a very mild garlic flavor.
- Squash BlossomCucurbita pepo species (aka Zucchini Blossom)Tastes like: sweet, nectar flavor.
- SunflowerHelianthus annusTastes like: leafy, slightly bitter. Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.
- ThymeThymus vulgarisTastes like: lemon, adds a nice light scent.
- Tuberous BegoniaBegonia X tuberosaONLY HYBRIDs are edible. The flowers and stems contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidneystones, or rheumatism. Further, the flower should be eaten in strick moderation. Tastes like: crisp, sour, lemony.
- Violet.Viola speciesTastes like: sweet, nectar.
- (Banana) YuccaYucca baccataFlowers (petals only) and fruit are edible. Other parts contain saponin, which is poisonous. Large amounts may be harmful. Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor.
Flowers to Avoid:
Some flowers in particular to be avoided (but not a complete list) are: azalea, crocus, daffodil, foxglove, oleander, rhododendron, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily of the valley, and wisteria.