Yes, flowers can be
eaten! They can 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!
Start with a summer salad! It's the easiest way to introduce flower cookery to those weary
eyed people who now think you are totally loony!
Along with herbs, grow some edible flowers,
including pansies and chive blossoms.
Edible flowers are a tasty addition to salads and baked goods. Some blooms taste like
vegetables, others have a sweet, licorice flavor.
- APPLE (Malus sp.)--Apple
blossoms have a mildly sweet, floral flavor. These trees grow wild in some parts of the
Northeast. If you eat blossoms from cultivated apples, make sure they havent been
sprayed yet. They also work well as a pretty pink and white garnish.
- BEE BALM (Monarda didyma)--Bee Balm is a
hardy perennial. The red flowers have a minty flavor, as Monarda is a member of the mint
family. Anyone who has grown Bee Balm knows that it is very easy to grow and can become
somewhat invasive in a spot it likes.
- CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis)--Calendula
is a lovely, self-seeding annual. The deep yellow or orange petals add a beautiful touch
to a green salad and can also be used as a garnish. Calendula has a slightly bitter
flavor, and it best used with tangier greens.
- CHICORY (Cichorium intybus)--Chicory is a
common roadside weed with beautiful periwinkle blue flowers in midsummer. Many people who
lived through the Depression remember making a coffee substitute out of Chicory. Make sure
you don't pick flowers on heavily traveled roads because of the pollution absorbed by the
plant. Chicory has a pleasant, mild-bitter taste that has been compared to endive.
- CHAMOMILE (Chamaemelum nobile)--English
Chamomile is a hardy perennial that prefers moist soil and full sun. The flowers are small
and daisy-like and have a sweet, apple-like flavor. CAUTION: Ragweed sufferers may also be
allergic to Chamomile. It contains thuaone and should be eaten in moderation.
- DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)--Yes,
this is the common weed. If the yellow flowers are picked young, they have a sweet,
honey-like flavor. Mature flowers are bitter. Do not eat Dandelions from lawns that have
been sprayed! If in doubt, ask or just dont eat them. As you know, Dandelions will
grow just about anywhere
- DAYLILY (Hemerocallis fulva)--Daylilies,
which are hardy, indestructible perennials, have lovely blossoms in many shades. Their
flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Some people think that different
colored blossoms have different flavors. They make a nice garnish and may be stuffed for
hors-deuvres or made into fritters.
- DIANTHUS (Dianthus sp.)--Dianthus, or
pinks as they are sometimes called, are annuals or hardy perennials that prefer sandier
soils and full sun. The spicy, clove-like flavor is more intense in some species. D.
caryophyllus, a tender perennial grown usually as an annual, is reported to have great
flavor. Always remove the white-colored base of the petal, as it may be bitter.
- ELDERBERRY (Sambucus canadensis)--Elderberry
is a large shrub or small tree that grows wild in many parts of the Northeast. The
blossoms are a creamy color and have a sweet flavor. The fruit is used to make wine.
CAUTION: All other parts of this plant are poisonous! Do not even eat the stems of the
- LAVENDER (Lavendula sp.)--Lavender is a
beautiful and wonderful smelling perennial or small shrub depending on where you live. The
flowers are lavender, of course, and have a perfumed flavor. The flavor may be very
intense, so use them sparingly. Lavender prefers a light, well-drained soil and full sun.
- LILAC (Syringa vulgaris)--The common
Lilac, a familiar shrub sometimes seen growing next to abandoned farmhouses (and in yards
everywhere) is remarkably hardy and easy to grow. An added bonus is the beautiful purple
or white "lilac-scented" flowers in late May and June. The flowers, which have a
delicate floral flavor, make a beautiful garnish or can be added to vanilla frozen yogurt
for a treat.
- MINT (Mentha sp.)--Mints are
clean-smelling, hardy perennials. Members of the mint family are characterized by their
square stems. The flavor of the flowers is minty, with different overtones depending on
the variety. Other members of the mint family with edible flowers are Bee Balm (mentioned
above) and Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis).
- ROSE (Rosa sp.)--Roses can be shrubs or
climbers. Some are hardy, some are not. They all prefer rich soil and full sun (except for
a few species that will grow in some shade) The beautiful, perfumed flowers, which come in
shades of pink, red, yellow, or white, have a perfumed flavor. It is important to remove
the sour petal base.
- SCENTED GERANIUM (Pelargonium sp.)--This
is a tender perennial usually grown for its scented leaves. Scented geraniums come in many
"flavors," ranging from rose to nutmeg to lemon and mint. The flowers may be
white, pink, red, or purple and resemble the flowers of the annual ivy-leaved Pelargonium.
The flower flavor generally corresponds to the variety. For example, a lemon-scented
geranium would have lemon-scented flowers.
- SQUASH BLOSSOMS (Cucrbita pepo sp.)--The
blossoms of the annual squash plant are a vibrant yellow color and possess a mild
vegetable flavor. They prefer soil enriched with organic matter and full sun. Squash
blossoms, like daylilies, may be stuffed or made into fritters.
- SWEET WOODRUFF (Galium odoratum)--Sweet
Woodruff is a spreading, groundcover perennial with pretty, star-shaped white flowers in
early May. The flower flavor is sweet and grassy with a hint of vanilla. Sweet Woodruff
prefers partial to full shade and rich soil.
By Rebecca Slater, student
University of Vermont
Contact: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
Please, NEVER eat
any plant you can't positively identify!
Note: Flowers from a
florist have been sprayed with chemicals. Use reasonable caution.