Yes, flowers can be eaten! They can also be candied, frozen into ice rings, made into jelly and jams, and made into flower waters! It’s true, that it is not for the ordinary, but it is fun for that special event or celebration party! I will start this section with a variety of things you can do with particuliar flowers, and then follow with a list of flowers than can be devoured!
Let’s start with a summer salad! It’s the easiest way to introduce flower cookery to those weary eyed people who now think you are totaly looney! (and still love ya anyway!). Take a mixture of TENDER lettuce leaves, and about 3 dozen or so NASTURTIUM flower heads. Now handle these gently for they do bruise easily. If at all possible, don’t wash the flowers because of this.
Take balsamic vinegar and good seasonings Italian dressing mix (you know, the one that’s been around forever in a little package) and prepare according to directions. Just before serving, add dressing, toss a little and serve! The nasturtiums have a peppery taste and are a real treat! You can also stuff these flowers with a cream cheese dip.
Add chopped lemon pepper (to your taste), chopped chives, and perhaps a little chopped lemon basil to a package of cream cheese and let set for a couple of hours until totaly soft and herbs are “blended” in. Fill flower heads, being a gentle as possible. Refrigerate, served chilled. You can also stuff day-lilies, and squash blossoms in this manner.
The orange ones that are abundant along sides of roads are a good variety-although don’t use the ones along the side of the road for they are to dirty, plus you can not be sure they have NOT BEEN SPRAYED!! Another dressing you can use for this salad is a rose vinaigrette. Take 1 cup of rose wine vinegar (continue for directions on this), 1 cup sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4 pink roses, and roses for decoration.
You can collect and dry the following flowers to use as a wonderful tisane: Rose petals, white jasmine, monarda, lime, marigold, and camomile. Mix together and use about 1 tablespoon per cup of tea.
Pickle Clover: Use red and white clover blossoms, white vinegar and honey. Alternate the different clover blossoms in a wide mouth quart jar. Fill jar with vinegar. Then pour out vinegar and measure. For each 1/2 cup of vinegar, add 1 tablespoon honey. Pour this over clover and let set for a week before using. It makes a nice garnish for vege’s and fish, and serve them for hors d’oeuvres.
To make flower vinegars: (start with a chive vinegar-it’s the easiest to use and to make for the begginers!) Take flowers from any of the following: chives, marjoram, nasturtium, oregano, dill, garlic, lemon-pepper, most all herb flowers, and basicly the choice is yours to sample with.
Take a handful of clean, dried not wet, flowers and add to a jar of 5% acidity vinegar. Let set for at least 3 days if not more. Take out old flowers and add fresh prior to serving vinegar. You need not add anything to these vinegars to boost flavor–serve them as they are so the full flavor may be enjoyed.
LILAC TEA SANDWICHES: Take 1/2 cup lilac flowers broken up and nix with 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. Spread this on a dark bread of your choice-remove crusts. Add a couple of fresh sprigs on the side for decoration. You can use peonies, marigolds, pinks (dianthus), carnations, roses, and lavendar flowers instead of lilac if you like!
How about LAVENDER! Add dried or fresh flowers to the next batch of sugar cookies you make for something wonderful! Serve this as dessert to a lunch where you have served lavender tuna! Marinade tuna steaks in lavender flowers, fennel flowers, and ground pepper. Grill tuna medium rare, serve with flower salad…yum-yum! Finish this off with lavender and orange sorbet: take a quart of orange juice, sweeten with sugar and add 1 tablespoon lavender flowers. Simmer this together for 15 minutes, let cool, freeze till almost solid, serve with lavender sprig on top!
Make teas from honeysuckle, hibiscus, jasmine, rose, or dianthus. Or make your own blend!
Serve your next supper as this: Serve a calendula cheese ball with crackers. Mix sweet red pepper, calendula flowers, cream cheese, black pepper, and chopped fine carrot together and roll into ball. Enjoy this while cooking up strips of beef and onion, add a cup or so of water, use your favorite flavorings for beef, thicken juice with cornstarch, and serve in a bed of yellow chrysanthemum flower petals! Beautiful! Serve this with a burgandy wine with floating borage petals. Finish this dish off with anise hyssop flower butter cookies. Make you favorite butter cookie recipe and add anise hyssop flowers-about 2 tabls. per recipe.
I could go on and on with flower recipes, but I really just can’t write them all! There are a few good books out there, one of my favorites being: Edible flowers from garden to palate by Cathy Wilkinson Barash and another very old one: Flower Cookery-The Art of Cooking with Flowers by Mary MacNicol. A couple of things I have done myself is candy flowers: I have taken violets and brushed a mixture of beaten egg whites on the petals. Then sprinkle refined sugar on the flowers. Let this air dry for a couple of days, and I have fozen mine, a friend let hers keep in a tupperware saver to be used for topping cupcakes and cakes and cookies.
Another thing I enjoy is making flower sugar. Take lavender or rose and add to a cup of sugar. Let set for three or four days and your sugar is ready for sprinkling on sugar cookies or used in teas. I once did wedding punch ice molds by freezing flowers in a PALE CLEAR JUICE-we used lemonade. Take peonies, roses, and pinks, and layer them in a ice mold, or jello mold. Add just a little juice and freeze, then add more juice and freeze. Then finish the mold off in juice and freeze. Loosen mold under warm water when you’re ready to use in your punch. You may also add fresh flowers to punch for extra decorations. Also, try adding chopped flowers to your morning scrambled eggs for a delightful way to start the day!
These are a few more edible flowers that perhaps you can substitute into some of the above ideas! Here are a few other ideas to use with some of those flowers that will sure to impress anyone!
- Tulips with pistils removed filled with chicken salad! Yucca flowers with the hearts removed for they are bitter.
- Wisteria( ***the purple flower portion of the wisteria is the -ONLY- part that’s edible***. Not the leaves, vines, roots, and ESPECIALLY not the seeds.) for wine and preserves and fritters and honey.
- Verbena for fruit cups and wine.
- Peach blossom vinegar can be made by placing 1 ounce of blossoms into a pint of warmed vinegar and let set for about 15 days. Use this in your next dressing!
- Lime flowers (linden tree)can be made into a tea, or infused into honey is wonderful!
- Snapdragons in applesauce with raisens.
- Saffron mixed in butter served on toast.
- Poppies, plums and primrose and pansies.
- Orchids if you dare!
- Gladiolus tossed in a salad or omelette. Scented geranium flowers in almost everything!
- Cowslips, (okay, I don’t know what this one is!) But, I’ll look it up to see..
Let me hear your experiences via e-mail, if any of you who read this have eaten any flowers lately! Have fun! And keep your flowers clean and unsprayed if you tend to nibble at them!
Thanks to Kathie Schmidt
|Common Name||Botanical Name||Comments|
|Angelica||Angelica archangelica||May be skin allergen to some individuals. Good with fish and the stems are especially popular candied. Tastes like: celery-flavored. More info here.|
|Anise Hyssop||Agastache foeniculum||Tastes like: sweet, anise-like, licorice|
|Apple||Malus species||Eat in moderation; may contain cyanide precursors. Tastes like: delicate floral flavor|
|Arugula||Eruca vesicaria||Tastes like: nutty, spicy, peppery flavor|
|Basil||Ocimum basilicum||Tastes like: different varieties have different milder flavors of the corresponding leaves. Tastes like: lemon, mint. More info here.|
|Bee Balm||Monarda species||Used in place of bergamot to make a tea with a flavor similar to Earl Grey Tea. More info here.|
|Borage||Borago officinalis||Taste like: light cucumber flavor. More info here.|
|Burnet||Sanguisorba minor||Tastes like: faint cucumber flavor, very mild. More info here.|
|Calendula*||Calendula officinalis||Tastes like: poor man’s saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods|
|Carnation||Dianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus)||Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like|
|Chamomile*||Chamaemelum nobile||Tastes like: faint apple flavor, good as a tea|
|Chicory*||Cichorium intybus||Buds can be pickled.|
|Chives: Garden||Allium schoenoprasum||Tastes like: mild onion flavor. More info here.|
|Chives: Garlic||Allium tuberosum||Tastes like: garlicky flavor|
|Chrysanthemum: Garland*||Chrysanthemum coronarium||Tastes like: slight to bitter flavor, pungent|
|Citrus: Lemon||Citrus limon||Tastes like: waxy, pronounced flavor, use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters|
|Clover||Trifolium species||Raw flowerheads can be difficult to digest.|
|Coriander||Coriander sativum||More info here.|
|Cornflower*||Centaurea cynaus (aka Bachelor’s Buttons)||Tastes like: sweet to spicy, clove-like|
|Dandelion*||Taraxacum officinalis||Tastes like: very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.|
|Day Lily||Hemerocallis species||Many 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|
|Dill||Anthum graveolens||More info here.|
|English Daisy*||Bellis perennis||Tastes like: tangy, leafy|
|Fennel||Foeniculum vulgare||Tastes like: sweet, licorice flavor. More info here.|
|Fuchsia||Fuchsia X hybrida||Tastes like: slightly acidic|
|Gardenia||Gardenia jasminoides||Tastes like: light, sweet flavor|
|Gladiolus*||Gladiolus spp||Tastes like: similar to lettuce|
|Hibiscus||Hibiscus rosa-sinensis||Tastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage|
|Hollyhock||Alcea rosea||Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor|
|Honeysuckle: Japanese||Lonicera japonica||Berries are highly poisonous. Do not eat them!|
|Hyssop||Hyssopus officinalis||Should be avoided by pregnant women and by those with hypertension and epilepsy.|
|Impatiens||Impatiens wallerana||Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor|
|Jasmine: Arabian||Jasminum sambac||Tastes like: delicate sweet flavor, used for teas.|
|Johnny-Jump-Up||Viola tricolor||Contains saponins and may be toxic in large amounts. Tastes like: sweet to bland flavor|
|Lavender||Lavendula species||Lavender oil may be poisenous. More Info. Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumey flavor|
|Lemon Verbena||Aloysia triphylla||Tastes like: lemony flavor, usually steeped for tea|
|Lilac||Syringa vulgaris||Tastes like: lemony, floral, pungent|
|Mallow: Common||Malva sylrestris||Tastes like: sweet, delicate flavor|
|Marigold: Signet||Tagetes tenuifolia (aka T. signata)||Tastes like: spicy to bitter|
|Marjoram||Origanum majorana||More info here.|
|Mint||Mentha species||More info here.|
|Mustard||Brassica species||Eating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches. More info here.|
|Nasturium||Tropaeolum majus||Buds are often pickled and used like capers. Tastes like: sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor|
|Tastes like: similar to squash blossoms|
|Pansy||Viola X wittrockiana||Tastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor|
|Pea||Pisum species||Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.|
|Pineapple Guava||Feijoa sellowiana||Tastes like: similar to the ripe fruit of the plant, flavorful|
|Primrose||Primula vulgaris||Birdseye Primrose (P. farinosa) causes contact dermatitis. Tastes like: bland to sweet flavor|
|Radish||Raphanus sativus||Tastes like: milder, sweeter version of the more familiar radish heat|
|Redbud||Cercis canadensis||Tastes like: mildly sweet|
|Rose||Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis||Tastes 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).|
|Rosemary||Rosmarinus officinalis||Tastes like: pine-like, sweet, savory. More info here|
|Runner Bean||Phaseolus coccineus||Tastes like: nectar, bean-like|
|Safflower*||Carthamus tinctorius||Another “poor man’s saffron” without the pungent aroma or strong flavor of the real thing|
|Sage||Salvia officinalis||Sage should not be eaten in large amounts over a long period of time. Tastes like: varies by type. More info here.|
|Savory: Summer||Satureja hortensis||More info here.|
|Scented Geranium||Pelargonium species||Citronella variety may not be edible. Tastes like: varies with differing varieties from lemon to mint. More info here.|
|Snapdragon||Antirrhinum majus||Tastes like: bland to bitter flavor|
|Society Garlic||Tulbaghia violacea||Tastes like: a very mild garlic flavor|
|Squash Blossom||Cucurbita pepo species (aka Zucchini Blossom)||Tastes like: sweet, nectar flavor. More info here.|
|Sunflower*||Helianthus annus||Tastes like: leafy, slightly bitter. Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.|
|Thyme||Thymus vulgaris||Tastes like: lemon, adds a nice light scent. More info here.|
|Tuberous Begonia||Begonia X tuberosa||ONLY 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 species||Tastes like: sweet, nectar|
|Yucca||Yucca species||Only the petals are edible. Other parts contain saponin, which is poisonous. Large amounts may be harmful. Tastes like: cruncy, 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, poinsettia|
Even Plants Can Be Poisonous
Learn the names of your plants and label them. Below is a list of some of the more common indoor and outdoor plants that you may have in you home. This list is definitely not a complete list. If you have a plant around your home that is not on the list, you may call the Poison Center to find out how poisonous it may be. You must know either the common name or the botanical name in order for the Poison Center to determine if it is poisonous. It is not possible to do plant or berry identifications over the phone, so check with a nursery for identification of all unknown plants. Carefully supervise children playing near poisonous plants. Call immediately if a child samples a mushroom or possibly poisonous plant.
Click on one of the banners above to see a list of plants in the group.
To view a photograph of a specific type of plant click on the name of the plant in the list. Please note some plants have two photos.
|Common Name||Botanical Name|
|African violet||Saintpaulia ionantha|
|Christmas cactus||Schlumbergera Bridgesii|
* (may cause irritation only)
|Spider plant||Chlorophytum comosum|
|Swedish ivy||Plectranthus australia|
|Wandering Jew||Tradescantia fluminesis|
|Wild strawberry||Fragaria virginiensis|
|Common Name||Botanical Name|
|Castor bean||Ricinis communis|
|Deadly nightshade||Atropa belladonna|
|Elephant Ear||Colocasia esculenta|
|Fruit pits and seeds||contain: cyanogenic glycosides|
|Jerusalem cherry||Solanum pseudocapsicum|
|Jimson weed||Datura stramonium|
|Mountain laurel||Kalmia iatifolia|
Any amount of any wild mushroom is considered to be very dangerous. Please call the Poison Center immediately if anyone ingests any part of a mushroom picked from a yard or the woods. If you have any pieces of the actual mushroom that was eaten you will be asked to save it in a brown paper bag. Many mushrooms can look identical but be very different.
Remember the phrase:
There are bold mushroom hunters and there are old mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. — A wise person