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Edible Landscaping: 23 Flowers You Can Eat

Updated on August 25, 2016
You can eat the buds, petals and seeds of a sunflower.
You can eat the buds, petals and seeds of a sunflower.

Plants You Can Eat

You may be fairly familiar with the concept of edible gardening or landscaping, though I am not referring to planting peppers and tomatoes in raised beds or on hay bales around your home or property. What I mean is planting flowers and other plants in your flower beds that are completely edible and nutritious. Or the eating of plants you may already be growing and not know they are edible!

Opting for alternatives to regular gardening is key to adding additional food for your family in a doomsday or survival scenario, without drawing attention from the unsavory elements running a muck. Plus it is just downright beautiful, since many of the plants you can eat are lovely flowers! Many of the plants you can eat, will also add some lovely vibrant color to your landscape and aid pollinating insects and butterflies! This hub will cover plants that you can eat and the average person will think is just another flower or shrub while they can be a source of nutrients.

Plants that you can eat are form of "wilderness survival garden" if you will, although these plants will be right in your flower beds at arms reach. Leaving those unwanted passers by none the wiser, to the bounty of plants you can eat growing close to your home.

The average person sees flower beds as ornamental focal point to lawns and landscapes, not giving a second thought to if the plants provide nutrients. I decided a few years ago that I no longer wanted to waste my effort and sweat growing anything I could not eat.

Unless you have been enthusiastically researching, anything and everything you can grow and eat, you may very well learn a few interesting things in this hub. I bet, if you have flower beds, odds are you have plants you can eat already growing and do not even know it! Lets get started and find out if you have any nutritious plants growing that you can eat.

There are so many plants you can eat and while I will cover many in this hub, including all varieties in one article will likely have you falling asleep from boredom. That is the last thing I want to do to my readers, I would rather break these up and keep you reading, than loose you halfway through!

Common Edible Plants and Flowers

Most likely if you love flowers, you will have many plants you can eat growing in the flower beds at your home already. If you are a novice or expert prepper or plant lover, this should be great news! This means more food for your family in the event of a catastrophe, or just a beautiful tasty addition to a summer meal.

Here you will discover a list of "common plants you can eat" as I like to call them, the wonderful and beautiful plants you are most likely already growing.

First I will give my advice that remains tried and true throughout my hubs, NEVER eat any plant unless you are 100% sure it is edible! Plants can kill you people, do not mess around! "When in doubt, throw it out!"

With an added note for flowers and shrubs etc, unless being grown organically I do not suggest eating them, you do not want to be ingesting pesticides, bug killers or any chemicals for that matter. I suggest steering clear if you did not grow them yourself! If you have a skin reaction to any plant, even one that is edible, you should never eat it either. Steer clear of anything growing in industrial areas or on roadsides as these have likely had chemical and pesticides used on them.

Now that we got that out of the way, onto the list:

  • Day Lillie's(Hemerocallis species) - great to stuff like squash blossoms, and naturally sweet making a great treat or dessert. Eat these in moderation, otherwise they have a laxative and diuretic effect (good to keep in mind if you get backed up)! Cut the tops away from the bitter white base of the flower. Please take note that many Lillie's are not edible as they contain Alkaloids.
  • Dame's Rocket(Hesperis matronalis) - To avoid bitterness pick these when they are young. The young blossoms have a sweet honey like flavor. The plant and flower are edible although very bitter.
  • Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus)- Commonly known as bachelor buttons. They have a clove like, sweet and spicy flavor, often used as a garnish for other dishes. The bloom is also a natural food dye.
  • English Daisy(Bellis perennis)- These flowers have a bitter taste so use as a garnish, possibly for salads or stir fry.
  • Dandelions(Taraxacum officinalis) - a common weed to most the flower and the greens are edible. Best harvested when the greens are young and the flowers are still buds. Great steamed or added to a spring salad. Petals are delicious sprinkled over rice. In the spring when the shoots are at least 2-3 inches high they can be substituted for asparagus. Dandelion jelly is very common in my area and is made from the petals of this plant.
  • Carnations(Dianthus caryophyllus - or Dianthus) - Used as a secret ingredient in Chartreuse (french liquor) since the 17th century. They are surprising sweet if cut away from the bitter base.
  • Tuberous Begonias (Begonia X tuberosa)- While they have a sour and citrus taste the flowers, leaves and stems are all edible. Stems are often used in place of rhubarb, while the petals are great with salad. Please keep in mind that the stems and flowers contain oxalic acid and you should not consume them if you suffer from kidney stones, gout or rheumatism.
  • Wax Begonias (Begonia cucullata) - Flowers and fleshy leaves are edible raw, or cooked. You will notice a bitter aftertaste, I suggest pairing with another dish as a filler to eliminate the aftertaste.
  • Roses (Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis) - The flavor profile of roses varies with type, soil condition and color. Often sweet with subtle undertones of mint, spice or fruit, such as strawberries or green apples. All roses are edible and the darker the more pronounced the flavor. The use of roses is very common in the culinary world. You can make rose petal scones, jam and tea.
  • Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) - Often bitter and bland in flavor, this would likely be a "last resort" for frequent eating.
  • Tulip (Tulipa) - Often tasting like cucumber, sweet lettuce or peas, the petals are edible. Some people do have a reaction, if you get a rash from touching them, never, ever eat them. Never eat the bulb either.
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annus) - Flavors resemble artichokes when picked at bud stage. Then can be steamed, once allowed to open the petals can be used in salads. We all know the seeds are edible, right?

These plants you can eat are what you may commonly find growing in most flower beds, depending on regions and growth zones of course. Many of you may find that you already have many plants you can eat growing at home. As always never eat anything if you are unsure of what it is. "When in doubt, throw it out!" Never pick anything to eat from industrial areas or along roadsides, or anywhere that they may come in contact with a pesticide, or other chemical. I know I am repeating myself but I can not stress enough the importance of knowing what you are eating without a shadow of a doubt!

Cornflower, vibrantly beautiful and edible.
Cornflower, vibrantly beautiful and edible.

How does your garden grow?

Are you growing Hollyhock?

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Less Common Edible Plants and Flowers

I may be completely wrong as to who is growing what. I tried to use my experience from my summers working in a greenhouse, to judge the plants you can eat that were most popular. So you may actually be growing some of these as well.

  • Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia - aka T. signata) - Citrus in flavor so it pairs well with salads. This flower also can be used as a substitute for saffron. So it's a frugal friendly flower!
  • Pansy (Viola X wittrockiana) - slightly sweet but grassy flavor. If eating just the petals the flavor is light, consuming the whole flower intensifies the flavor. These are great in soups, garnishes for salad, in fruit salad and desserts.
  • Johnny jump ups Viola tricolor) - Flowers have a mild wintergreen flavor. They pair well with tea, desserts ,soup and salads.
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) - First I want to be clear that the berries are poisonous do not eat them. I remember eating honeysuckle often when I was growing up. They have a sweet honey like flavor to the flower. Only eat the flower!
  • Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)- Very sweet in flavor, good for drinks and desserts.
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) - These are very bland in flavor, I would suggest as using as a filler in soup or other recipe.
  • Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) - Used in China as a tea time delicacy. They are great in salads and drinks.
  • Phlox Perrennial Phlox (Phlox paniculata) - Not Annual! The annual variety is not edible!! This is the taller high growing phlox usually 3-4 feet high. Has a spicy taste.
  • Scented Geranium (Pelargonium species) - First off the Citronelle variety is not edible. The other variety scents will generally correspond with their flavor. Use lemon scented where you would use lemon and apple scented would remind you of crisp apples.
  • Primrose (Primula vulgaris) - Commonly know as Cowslip, with a sweet but bland taste. Flower buds pickle well, you can also ferment them into wine or cook as you would a vegetable.
  • Nasturtiums Tropaeolum majus)- A peppery often sweet and spicy flavor these are great for many dishes! You can pickle seed pods for a frugal alternative to capers. The peppery stalk is great in salad. You can stuff the whole flowers with a savory filling, or use them to garnish cheese, sandwiches or savory dishes. Not a bad plant to have if you forgot to stockpile pepper!

Consider making rose jelly for a delightfully fresh taste.
Consider making rose jelly for a delightfully fresh taste.

Flavors

What flavor do Impatiens have?

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Edible Landscaping and Dietary Changes

It is important to take into consideration the dietary changes involved here. You should never drastically change your eating habits, instead gradually add new unfamiliar items. Only if you are 100% sure they are safe for human consumption! Eating a large quantity of plants can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

You should also remove the stamen prior to consumption as well. The pollen on the stamen can have a negative effect and flare up your allergies. Much more so than just walking outside when the pollen count is up!

I hope that you are intrigued by the possibility of edible landscaping. Many plants offer frugal alternatives to common expensive store bought items like saffron and capers! When you purchase seeds for this coming planting season, stop and think "can I eat that" if so then it is a great buy! While flowers are beautiful to look at, I much prefer knowing I can eat them if I need to!

This can also work double duty with companion gardening. Pairing your fruits and vegitables with edible flowers will increase the amount of food you are growing, and improve the soil conditions. Often meaning little or no work on your part.

Thank you for reading another of my long articles. I welcome any comments and feedback, I appreciate them all good or bad.


Have you eaten uncommon plants before?

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    • profile image

      Whitney Rose Wood 2 years ago

      I used to love eating honeysuckle as a kid. I would never have guessed so many other flowers are edible... especially the dandelions. I think I am going to have to add some honeysuckle to my garden now.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 2 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      Other plant that I think is great to have around are cattails. Add a fish pond with koi and put cattails around it, and you have a complete meal right at your doorstep. Also, bamboo is easy to grow. (So easy you have to keep it contained or it will take over!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Whitney Rose Wood, this is just a small list of edible plants too. There are so many more! O always loved honeysuckle too! Cygnetbrown you are absolutely correct, cattails have a wealth of survivle used and are edible too! Thank you both for taking the time to comment!

    • Matt Easterbrook5 profile image

      Matthew A Easterbrook 2 years ago from Oregon

      Very educationsl hub Cynthia. I was in the Marines and I found your hub to be very informative. I knew about a lot of plants, but you listed a few I never knew I could eat. Yes it is good to be prepared for an emergency at all times.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Thank you Matt! There are so many plants I am finding that I never new I could eat, researching pays off! I am sure being in the Marines, you could teach us all a lot about survival skills! I hope you are having a great day!

    • Matt Easterbrook5 profile image

      Matthew A Easterbrook 2 years ago from Oregon

      The Marines do focus a lot on survival skills and I have used them my entire life. Thank you Cynthia and today is a great day.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      This is a clever take on an alternate way to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. I like the idea of growing your own food without appearing to do so. And with all the nice detail you gave a person could attempt what you are talking about. I voted this one up.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      This is a clever take on an alternate way to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. I like the idea of growing your own food without appearing to do so. And with all the nice detail you gave a person could attempt what you are talking about. I voted this one up.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      What an interesting hub. I grow most of those flowers around my house and yard, but never realized that you can eat them. I love the picture with the field of sunflowers. I always wanted a field like that. I grew sunflowers a couple of times, but the birds always found them before I could harvest them. Great hub, I voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      poetryman6969 I thoughf it was important to let people know what they could garnish those Zombie dishes with! Thanks for the vote!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Rachel L Alba, thank you so much for the vote and feedback! Through research I found that I too am growing many edible flowers! So many flowers I never thought about eating before! I can't wait to finish the next article! I also have issues with birds on the farm. I just decided to beat them to it and feed them. A bit of an expense but it beats them eating all my crops!

    • Marina7 profile image

      Marina 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

      Those light pink flowers look like Rose of Sharon but it does not look like a hedge. I wish I had some hollyhock seeds. I did read another hub that said that some weeds are also useful and beneficial in antibacterial properties.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Marina7 you are absolutely correct, many "weeds" are medicinal and edible. Plantain (the weed, not the banana like fruit) has a wealth of medicinal purposes and antibacterial functions. I may focus on "weeds" in my next article. There are so many edible and useful plants!

    • Marina7 profile image

      Marina 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

      Yes Cynthia and I was amazed that some of the weeds I had pulled are so antibacterial. I look forward to your new article.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      This is an interesting hub. I noticed there's no information on the wax begonias, since it was left blank or unfinished. Great stuff here on edible plants as in plants and weeds. Voted up!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Kristen Howe, thank you for noticing I totally missed it! I will get it fixed ASAP! I appreciate you letting me know! Thank you so much for voting it up too!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      No problems. You're welcome. I just thought it was odd or an oversight. Anytime.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      It was an oversight, I remember having to pause while writing. I am not sure how I managed to not finish and moved on to the next one, but I fixed it! Thanks again!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      My pleasure. I'm glad I caught that and you got it fixed.

    • Matt Easterbrook5 profile image

      Matthew A Easterbrook 2 years ago from Oregon

      Keep up the excellent writing. Great topic and well researched.

    • profile image

      Pamela 2 years ago

      I didn't realizes you could eat quite a few of these flowers. Several of the plants that you mentioned also can be used medicinally ~ Dandelions, Calendula (marigolds family),Primrose.... so double the duty. This is what I am looking toward this growing season. Plants with more than one use. I look forward to future articles.

    • mysweetlittle6 profile image

      M. Winters 2 years ago from United States

      What an interesting hub. I did not know all those flowers were edible. I knew some of them were. But I would have never guessed on a couple of them. Very good to know!

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Thank you Matt! It is amazing the amount of edible plants there are. We were once a society of hunters and foraging as a lifestyle. Crazy how something so simple has changed over time.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
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      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Pamela, I am also really exciyed for gtowing season to start. I imagine feasting on a salad of flowers at some point this summer.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
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      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      mysweetlittle6, this article only covers a small portion of the edible plants available. I am glad you enjoyed it. I hope to publish more articles in the future covering many more edible plants.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 2 years ago

      Really stunning photos. I have a nice flower garden but I guess I'm more interested in looking at the flowers than eating them. Nice to know though that much of what I have is edible. The deer eat enough. I guess I'll leave the rest for viewing.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      The deer here eat my apples and luckily leave my flowers alone! These flowers are stunning on cakes too :)!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very useful hub! Thank you for sharing all the information about edible plants as well as all the precautions. I learned a lot from reading your article. I had to smile when I reached the nasturtium section of the hub. My father loved growing these in our garden when I was a child. He introduced me to the idea that ornamental plants like nasturtium could be edible.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 2 years ago from Newton, West Virginia

      AliciaC Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed my hub! I love sharing information that people may not be aware of!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Cynthia,

      Absolutely marvelous hub. Artwork and all. Especially the art. Wish I had your art source. Great topic. Actually flowers are my weakness. It was with my dad. He loved roses. So do I. I would vote you a 10 if you had a voting slot.

      Keep up the great work.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Hoover 15 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Thank you kenneth avery, I love plants, especially dual purpose ones I can eat! I can't take credit for the art, I use pixabay.com it offers free photos for public domain use, or there are some photos you can pay for. I hope you are as excited for planting season as I am!

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