If you don’t often or never head into the garden looking for flowers to eat, this list is for you!
Remember that not all flowers are edible, as some can be poisonous. Be absolutely sure that a flower is edible, clean and free of things like pesticides or herbicides before consuming it.
Edible Purple Flowers
The allium family of plants, which includes onions, garlic, and chives, is well known for its unique, spicy, eye-watering bulbs. This flavor profile extends into the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plants.
Many species of alliums don’t bloom until the second year after they are planted. These tasty round flowerheads are worth the wait and are perfect for adding an oniony floral flavor to salads, vinegar salad dressings, and homemade butter.
These flowers have a licorice flavor with floral sweetness. They can be enjoyed with poached peaches and cape gooseberries or as an addition to fruit jams.
The flowers of the delicate hosta plant have a mild taste that won’t overwhelm any dish, while adding some beautiful visual appeal. They are especially good when sprinkled on salad, or fried up into fritters.
Do not give your pets hostas, as they are poisonous to cats and dogs. All parts of the plant are edible for humans, but animals can get sick from eating them.
Is there anything lavender can’t be used for? This medicinal herb has a long history of being used in teas, as a scent, and in aromatherapy to calm the mind and fight infection. As it turns out, lavender blossoms also taste pretty good and make a great addition to honey, baked goods, and jams. Lavender flowers have a strong floral taste with undertones of mint and rosemary.
The flowers have a strong fragrance and also a strong flavor. They are very aromatic, with a lemony smell and a slight bitterness. We use them to make lilac honey, but they would also be good in wines, liquors, and desserts.
If your oregano plant is flowering, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The herbs leaves may become milder or even bitter, but the small purple flowers can also be harvested and used in the kitchen.
The flowers of oregano have a gentler flavor than the leaves, often being likened to thyme. This light spiciness and herbal taste is ideal for giving salads a zing during summer.
Although they are not as widely known, pansies are also utilized in savory dishes. Pansies are a popular edible flower due to the variety of colors they come in and their mild, pleasing flavor. The taste of a pansy bloom is similar to that of baby lettuce; it is slightly sweet with hints of wintergreen, perfume, or even bubblegum, depending on the variety. Pansies are most often eaten raw in salads or candied and used in desserts. Pansies are also used in savory dishes, although they are not as widely known for this.
Your thyme plant’s delicate purple blooms might spell the end for your fresh thyme harvest, but that doesn’t mean your plant is useless. These tiny flowers are milder than the leaves and have notes of citrus in addition to earthy mint.
The flowers have a mild flavor, making them a good addition to salads. But they are especially good as a garnish on top of lasagna and alfredo.
Violets are a type of flower that are related to pansies. They can be eaten and are often used as a decoration for food. Violets have a sweet flavor that goes well with light salads and desserts.
Violets that have been coated in sugar make a great addition to cupcakes, cookies, or as a pick-me-up during a long day. Jellies can also be made from these flowers.
Edible Pink Flowers
Not only are begonias aesthetically pleasing, but they can also enhance the flavor of your dish. The addition of the flower petals can turn an ordinary recipe into something extraordinary with a sour flavor similar to that of a lemon.
The flowers from begonia plants can be used in food, but it is not recommended to use flowers that come from begonias that are grown in nurseries. The reason for this is that these flowers are often treated with pesticides that can be harmful.
The petals of carnations have a sweet and slightly spicy taste which makes them ideal for baking and other desserts. They come in a range of colors which makes them ideal for decorating cakes and other sweet dishes.
Most carnations found in stores have been treated with toxic pesticides, so you should only consume those flowers that have been grown organically without sprays.
The hibiscus plant is not only beautiful but also provides a unique flavor to dishes and drinks. The flowers of the plant are tart with a slight sweetness and contain flavors similar to cranberries. Hibiscus can be added to several different types of food, from tacos to cakes, or used to flavor kombucha.
A reason people often prefer fruits to flowers is that fruits provide more food. One flower that is large enough to compete with fruits is the peony. Just one of these huge blooms has enough petals to make an entire dish. And, since they taste somewhat like strawberries or peaches, why not use them in a dish?
The petals can be eaten by steaming them and adding a light coating of sugar, or they can be added to water to make a refreshing beverage.
The Eastern Redbud tree’s buds may look red, but the flowers are actually a very pretty shade of pink. The flowers have a tart, floral flavor that makes them great for adding to jelly or for decorating cakes.
The Western Redbud tree has edible pink flowers which taste somewhat like peas. These flowers make a gorgeous addition to salads.
The intense flavor of rose flowers can be made into a delicious dessert by adding a little sugar.
An elixir made from rose petals, honey, and brandy can be used to treat various conditions like heart palpitations and digestive problems.
Arugula is a leafy vegetable that is often eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. It has small white flowers with dark centers that can also be used in salads. The leaves of arugula are compound and have a spicy, peppery flavor that gets stronger as the leaves mature.
The artichoke plant is usually grown in the Mediterranean. The edible portion of the artichoke plant is the flower, which is often eaten as a leaf vegetable. The choke or thistle part is generally discarded. The artichoke plant is native to the Mediterranean region.
The broccoli florets are the flower buds of the broccoli plant. As they mature, they will open up into small yellow flowers. These flowers have a mild spiciness to them and are great in salads or stir-fries.
You can eat corn shoots when they look like big blades of grass with a strong, sweet corn flavor. You can use them as a garnish for corn chowder. You can also eat the whole baby corn in the husk, including the silk.
, swelling, itching, burning, and shortness of breath. Mustard (Brassica species) – Young leaves can be steamed, used as a herb, eaten raw, or cooked like spinach. NOTE: Some people are highly allergic to mustard and should start with a small amount. Eating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches, swelling, itching, burning, and shortness of breath.
The vegetable known as okra, which is also known by the names ochro, okoro, quimgombo, quingumbo, ladies fingers, and gumbo, produces a delicious dish when its tender seed pods are stewed or fried.Cooked, it resembles asparagus, but it can also be eaten raw, in a cold salad. The ripe seeds of the okra plant can be dried and powdered for use as a coffee substitute.
The pea blossoms are edible and have a slightly sweet and crunchy taste. The shoots and vine tendrils are also edible and have a delicate, pea-like flavor. Keep in mind that harvesting the blooms will reduce the amount of peas you will get, so you may want to plant extra. Note: Ornamental sweet peas that are used for decoration are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Radish flowers have a spicy, radish-like flavor and come in pink, white, or yellow varieties. They’re best used in salads. Radish shoots are tasty, tender, and bright red or white. They’re great sauteed or in salads.
The Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a beautiful red flower that tastes great and can be used as a decoration for soups and salads.
As bean pods toughen with age, use both young pods and flowers.
Squash blossoms can be eaten and they have a mild flavor of raw squash. To prepare them, wash and trim the stems and remove the stamens. Usually, the blossoms are taken from the male plant, which only provides pollen for the female plant.
IMPORTANT – Some dos and don’ts!
Following are some simple guidelines to keep in mind before you eat any type of flower:
- Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible. If uncertain, consult a good reference book on edible flowers prior to consumption.
- If pesticides are necessary, use only those products labeled for use on edible crops. No flowers are safe to eat unless it was grown organically.
- Wash all flowers thoroughly before you eat them.
- Introduce flowers into your diet in small quantities one species at a time. Too much of a good thing may cause problems for your digestive system.
- Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum.
- Eat only the flower petals for most flowers except pansies violas, and Johnny-jump-ups (in which they add flavor).
- If you have allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may aggravate some allergies.
- Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases, these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops.
- Do not eat flowers picked from the side of the road. Once again, possible herbicide use eliminates these flowers as a possibility for use.
- Just because flowers are served with food served at a restaurant does not mean they are edible. Know your edible flowers – as some chefs do not. It’s easy and very attractive to use flowers for garnish on plates or for decoration, but avoid using non-edible flowers this way. Many people believe that anything on the plate can be eaten. They may not know if the flower is edible or not and may be afraid to ask.
Picking Edible Flowers
The following information is from the book Edible Flowers – From Garden To Palate, by Cathy Wilkinson Barash:
- Remove the stamens and styles from the flowers before eating. The pollen can detract from the flavor of the flower. In addition, the pollen may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Remove the sepals of all flowers except violas, Johnny-jump-ups, and pansies.
- Only the petals of some flowers such as rose, calendula, tulip, chrysanthemum, yucca, and lavender are edible. When using just the petals, separate them from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum. Others, including Johnny-jump-up, violet, runner bean, honeysuckle, and clover can be eaten in their entirety.
- Roses, dianthus, English daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums have a bitter white portion at the base of the petal where it was attached to the flower. Cut the bitter part off the petal before using.
Cleaning Edible Flowers
- Shake each flower to dislodge insects hidden in the petal folds.
- After having removed the stamen, wash the flowers under a fine jet of water or in a strainer placed in a large bowl of water. Drain and allow to dry on absorbent paper. The flowers will retain their odor and color providing they dry quickly and that are not exposed to direct sunlight.
Preserving Edible Flowers
To preserve flowers, put them on moist paper towels and place them together in a container with a tight lid or in plastic wrapping. This way, certain species can be preserved in the refrigerator for some 10 days.
The flowers can be revitalized by floating them on icy water for a few moments; don’t leave too long, or else they will lose some of their flavors.