Edible Flowers – Safe to Eat Flowers – Non-toxic Flowers

Edible Flowers

Consider using edible flowers in your next salad. Many flowers are safe to eat and add beauty, color and a unique flavor to the dishes that you prepare with them.

edible flowers - list of edible flowers

How can edible flowers be used in cooking?

They can actually be used several different ways:

  • As floating garnishes for beverages and soups
  • To add a colorful garnish to almost any dish, plate or large tray of food
  • As decorations on a wedding cake
  • As a colorful ingredient to a salad
edible flowers - safe to eat flowers

Edible flowers, such as this snapdragon, can be used to float on top of cool beverages.

Edible flowers are flowers that are safe to eat because they are not toxic (poisonous) to humans.

Edible flowers can be used whole in salads as shown in the picture above. Larger blossoms, such as squash blossoms, can be stuffed and then baked or fried. Larger flowers can be lightly battered and then fried.

Edible flowers can be finely chopped and added to cheese spreads and herb butters, adding a unique flavor and dash of color. They can also be added to crepe, pancake and waffle batters.

How to Preserve Edible Flowers

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Herbs can be preserved in oils beautifully.

They can be preserved by the following techniques:

  • Drying
  • Freezing
  • Steeping in oil to create flower-flavored oils
  • Steeping in vinegar to created flower-flavored vinegars
  • Candying with egg white and sugar

 

List of Edible Flowers

edible flowers growing and using herbs

What is a composite flower? It is “a family of plants with heads composed of many florets, including the aster; daisy; dandelion; goldenrod; marigold; lettuces; ragweed; sunflower; thistle; zinnia,” and others. ONLY THE PETALS OF COMPOSITE FLOWERS ARE EDIBLE. Care must be taken when consuming composite flowers because the pollen on composite flowers is highly allergenic and can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. The should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.

This list should not be considered complete. Any flower that is questionable to consume in larger quantities, or having concerns raised other than the warning about composite flowers, have been purposefully omitted.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a botanist nor an herbalist but has made every effort to provide accurate information through research and double verifying each flower through more than one source (sources provided below). All individuals choosing to eat these flowers or any parts of them or the plants from which they come do so entirely at their own risk. The author cannot be held responsible for any harm or adverse effects or reactions that may be experienced from eating these flowers/plants.

edible flowers -growing and using herbs

Artichoke blossoms – yes it is a flower.

- A -

  • Althea – Marshmallow Plant (Althaea) – leafy flavor
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) – tastes sweet and like licorice
  • Artichoke represents peace in many countries worldwide
  • Arugula (Eruca sativa) – nutty, spicy and peppery flavor

 

- B -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Borage

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – tastes like lemon, mint or basil depending upon variety
  • Beebalm, Bergamot (Monarda didyma) – has a minty, sweet and slightly hot flavor; used to brew a tea flavored similar to Earl Grey Tea
  • Borage (Borago officinalis) – has a light cucumber flavor
  • Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) – faint, mild cucumber flavor

 

- C -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Calendula

  • Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) – spicy flavor
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – petals with white heel removed – tastes spicy, tangy, peppery; referred to as poor man’s saffron, adds a golden hue to foods (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)
  • Carnation or Dianthus (Dianthus caryophyllus) – tastes spicy and peppery
  • Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – faint apple flavor (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)

    edible flowers growing and using herbs

    Chervil

  • Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) – has a leafy herbal flavor
  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus) – herbal flavor; the buds can be pickled (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)
  • Chives, garden or common (Allium schoenoprasum) – light onion flavor
  • Chives, garlic (Allium tuberosum) – garlicky flavor
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium) – pungent, slightly bitter flavor (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)

    edible flowers growing and using herbs

    Cornflower or Bachelor Buttons

  • Clover, red  (Trifolium pratense) – sweet flavor; used to brew tea; the raw flowerheads can be hard to digest.
  • Coriander or Cilantro (Coriander sativum) – some find this herb to have a disagreeable soapy flavor
  • Cornflower or bachelor buttons (Centaurea cyanus) – sweet-spicy with a clove-like flavor (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)

 

- D -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Dandelion

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)  - flowers, petals, and buds; the very young buds fried in butter tastes similar to mushrooms; makes a potent wine (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens) – mild dill flavor

 

- E -

  • Elderflower, American (Sambucus canadensis) – sweet flavor; blossom used in beverages
  • English daisy (Bellis perennis) – petals only; tastes tangy and leafy (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)
edible flowers growing and using herbs

Forget-Me-Not

- F -

  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – sweet licorice flavor
  • Forget-me-not violet (Myosotis scorpioides, Myosotis sylvatica)
  • Fushia (Fuchsia X hybrid) – slightly acidic

 

- G -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Gardenia

  • Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) – light sweet flavor
  • Geranium, scented (Pelargonium sp.) – avoid the citronella variety as it may be harmful; other varieties have varying flavors from lemon to mint
  • Gladiolus (Gladiolus sp.) – similar taste as lettuce (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)

 

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Hibiscus

- H -

  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) – taste is slightly acidic and citrusy; makes a nice beverage when boiled.
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) – very bland flavor

 

- I -

  • Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) very bland flavor

 

- L -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Lilac

  • Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) lemony flavor, usually used in tea
  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) – pungent, lemony, floral flavor
  • Lovage (Levisticum officinale)- celery-type flavor

 

                                                            – M -

  • Mallow, common (Malva sylrestris) – sweet, delicate flavor
  • Marigold, French (Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia) – spicy to bitter taste
  • Mint flower (Mentha sp.) – has a minty flavor

 

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Okra Blossom

- N -

  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) – The buds can be pickled and used like capers. Has a sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor

- O -

  • Okra blossoms (Abelmoschus esculentus) – sweet, nectar-like flavor

    edible flowers growing and using herbs

    Pansy

 

- P -

  • Pansy (Viola × wittrockiana) – has avery mild sweet to tart flavor
  • Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) – flower tastes very similar to the mature fruit.

 

- R -

  • Radish (Raphanus sativus) – sweeter,milder version of the radish root.

    edible flowers growing and using herbs

    Eastern Redbud

  • Redbud (Cercis canadensis) – has a mildly sweet flavor
  • Rose (Rosa rugosa, Rosa gallica officinalis) – the petals have a sweet, aromatic flavor; stronger fragranced petals produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion at the base of the petals.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – sweet, pine-like flavor

 

- S -

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Summer Savory

  • Savory, summer (Satureja hortensis)
  • Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) – poor man’s saffron but doesn’t have the pungent aroma or strong flavor or real saffron.  (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) – bland to bitter flavor
  • Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) – has a very mild garlicky flavor

    edible flowers growing and using herbs

    Lightly battered squash blossoms can also be stuffed before frying.

  • Squash blossoms (Cucurbita pepo) – sweet nectar-like flavor
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) – buds and petals only – has a slightly bitter leafy flavor. Lighlty steaming the petals can lessen the bitter taste. The unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes. (Only the petals are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic. Can cause severe reactions to sensitive individuals. Should not be consumed by individuals who suffer from asthma or hayfever.)

 

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Common Violet

- T -

  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – lemony flavor

 

- V -

  • Violet, common (Viola odorata) – sweet nectar-like flavor

 

 

Risks When Eating Flowers

When choosing to eat flowers, some precautions need to be taken. Some flowers are

poisonous. Others are safe to eat ONLY after prepared a certain way. Randomly sampling flowers can make you very sick. It is best to be sure that the flower you are eating is safe to eat.

Things to take into consideration:

edible flowers - safe flowers to eat

Buy your edible flowers just like you would any other fresh herb.

  • When gathering flowers to consume, be certain you can identify them correctly. You don’t want to gather poisonous flowers thinking they are safe. Eat only the parts of the flowers that you know are safe.
  • Composite flowers containing pollen can be bad for certain individuals because of the pollen those flowers contain. Caution should be taken, and then only the petals of those flowers should be consumed.
  • Be watchful for allergic reactions and/or sensitivities when consuming them, especially the first time. The pollen in the flower can be especially prone to causing allergic reactions.
  • Know that the flowers you are gathering have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides making them unsafe to eat. Pesticides or any other chemicals should never be used on any part of the plant from which you intend to eat the flowers/blossoms. This would include systemic type chemicals that would be watered into the surrounding area that can be pulled into the plant through the roots.
  • Never harvest flowers growing beside the road. It is likely they have been sprayed with some type of chemicals, or are pollution ridden from the exhaust of the traffic.

    edible plants gowing and using herbs

    Although edible, the raw flowerheads of the red clover can cause digestive difficulties.

  • Make sure to thoroughly wash and inspect the flowers you intend to eat. Dirty, damaged or insect-ridden flowers may not be safe to eat.
  • Use all flowers in moderation to avoid any complications, such as digestive difficulties. It’s recommended that you introduce flowers into your diet one and a small portions.
  • Note: just because a flower is safe to eat does not mean that any other part of that plant are safe to eat.
  • Do not eat flowers obtained from florists, nurseries or garden centers. It is likely that pesticides or other unsafe products have been used on them.

 

edible flowers growing and using herbs

Broccoli and cauliflower are immature florets that are routinely consumed. The matured broccoli flower pictured above is also edible.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a botanist nor an herbalist but has made every effort to provide accurate information through research and double verifying each flower through more than one source (sources provided below). All individuals choosing to eat these flowers or any parts of them or the plants from which they come do so entirely at their own risk. The author cannot be held responsible for any harm or adverse effects or reactions that may be experienced from eating these flowers/plants.

 

Want to read more on the subject of edible flowers. Check out these reference sites:

Photo Credits:  Photo 1 (adapted, Vegetables’gargouillou), Photo 2 (floating snapdragon), Photo 3 (herbed oil), Photo 4 (artichoke), Photo 5 (borage), Photo 6 (calendula), Photo 7 (chervil),  Photo 8 (cornflower), Photo 9 (dandelion), Photo 10 (forget-me-not), Photo 11 (gardenia), Photo 12 (hibiscus), Photo 13 (lilac), Photo 14 (okra), Photo 15 (pansy),  Photo 16 (Eastern redbud), Photo 17 (summer savory), Photo 18 (fried squash blossom), Photo 19 (common violet), Photo 20 (container edible flowers), Photo 21 (red clover), Photo 22 (broccoli0


Comments

Edible Flowers – Safe to Eat Flowers – Non-toxic Flowers — 2 Comments

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