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Flowers That We Can Eat

Updated on January 29, 2014

Flower Note

Flowers to be eaten should be fresh, never taken from an arrangement from a flower shop.
Flowers to be eaten should be fresh, never taken from an arrangement from a flower shop.

Edible Flowers

Many gardeners are not aware of the number of flowers we grow that are edible. I had very little idea as well, until I read Lois Hole’s book. I have tried some of them, and was pleasantly surprised at the flavour.

My favourite one has to be the Nasturtium. It has an almost peppery taste, which is more pronounced in the unopened flower buds. It is a very easy flower to grow and its large seeds make it a nice candidate for a child’s garden. All parts of the nasturtium are edible...personally I like the flower buds the best.

Marigolds are another flower that can be eaten. Pot marigold, English marigold and signet marigold are the best ones for eating, as they have a milder flavour. African and French marigolds are quite bitter. The young leaves can be boiled or steamed as a green vegetable. I have tried marigolds, but did make the mistake of taking a bite of the center. A word of advice...eat only the petals as the center tends to be bitter.

The pansy is a pretty flower, with a slight Wintergreen taste. The entire flower can be eaten, but never eat the seeds, rhizomes or roots. They are also ideal for a child’s garden as they are easy to grow and children like the ‘faces’ they have.

As everyone knows, sunflowers are also on this list. Along with the seeds, the petals and flower buds can also be eaten. If using the flower buds, choose a multi-stemmed variety as opposed to a single-stem. If using for the seeds, choose a single-stemmed variety and do not harvest any petals form the flower heads.

Also, as many people know, the dandelion is also an edible flower. I can remember going out into the yard as a child and picking young leaves for a salad. They were very tasty with a little oil and vinegar. I sometimes made the mistake of getting the bigger leaves...they are a little more bitter. The leaves can also be boiled like spinach. The roots can be dried and ground up as a coffee substitute, although I have never personally tried this. It is very tempting though, because dandelions are plentiful around here in the spring and summer. Young flower buds are high in protein, and can be stir-fried.

Chickweed can be added to salads or steamed and served as a leafy vegetable. Chickweed is also one of those plentiful ‘weeds’ that we battle all summer long. It spreads rapidly, and likes cool moist areas and will tolerate shade. It makes a very nice potted plant if kept confined. It is one of those plants that could be kept on a bright windowsill all winter long.

Honeysuckle has aromatic flowers that taste great in fruit salads. They can also be boiled to make syrup. It blooms all season long, so the flowers can be enjoyed by you and hummingbirds alike.

These are just a few of the flowers that can be eaten. Some of them go great together with herbs and mixed in with other foods. For more information on the above mentioned flowers, I suggest Lois Hole's book on Herbs and Edible Flowers.

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    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      Very useful article. Good to know - thanks!

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you @CrisSp! I personally haven't tried the honeysuckle, but it does sound interesting.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Interesting! I knew about dandelions. In fact, I even had a hub about it but not about these flowers that you've mentioned here.

      Honeysuckle in fruit salads? Why not?

      Great hub. Thanks for sharing. Voting up and passing along.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you @Cogerson! I have never seen edible flowers in a grocery store before, at least not around here. Many people do not even consider flowers as an addition to salads or dishes (nasturtiums, for example).

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      A very interesting hub. In a previous life I worked in an upscale grocery chain....our goal in the produce department was to have the most variety of all stores... The companies goal when opening up new stores was to have over 1000 different varieties of produce. To reach that goal....we would have to order many edible flowers....I kept thinking about that as I was reading your hub.....voted up and very interesting.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      @mailxpress - the nasturtiums are my favorite; they have a bit of a peppery flavor so will add some zip to salads. The flower buds are the best, IMO. Thank you for reading & commenting! Have a great day!

    • mailxpress profile image

      Michelle Cesare 5 years ago from New York

      I enjoy eating salads a lot. I bet many of the flower leave would be a good addition to a salad.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      When I first learned about some of them I was surprised as well. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I had no idea so many flowers were edible, honeysuckle was a big surprise, thank you for sharing.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you Thelma! My favorite are the nasturtiums and mine aren't growing good at all this summer. :(

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 6 years ago from Germany

      Very informative hub! It is good to know that I can eat some flowers that are growing in my garden. Thanks for sharing.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Pamela,

      The leaves (dandelion) are best when young; they tend to get bitter after awhile. Thank you for reading!

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 6 years ago from Oklahoma

      I've grown marigolds for years but never ate one. I'll have to try it.

      They are actually a weed but dandelions are edible too.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Just an update for anyone interested in the Nettles...there was a great article in a Garden's West magazine I read while waiting to see my doctor today. I believe it was the March 2008 issue...if anyone has that issue and its not there, please feel free to correct me. Thanks!

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 7 years ago

      yes it was soup they said you could make it in to now you mention it I can remember being told that. Thank you for replying, do n't think I am going to be making it soon though.

    • brsmom68 profile image
      Author

      Diane Ziomek 7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      2uesday...I just had a look in my book, and young nettles can be cooked like spinach or pureed for soup. Only use the very young leaves, as the older ones can contain high levels of oxalic acid.

      Thank you both for stopping by!

    • profile image

      joyceann0129 7 years ago

      nice hub^^tnx 4 sharing^^

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 7 years ago

      I had not realised so many of these were edible. I was told you could eat nettles but I cannot remember what you make them into. I have an abundance of them but they have never tempted me. An interesting read.