Edible Flowers

Dan General, Specialty Crops, This Land of Ours

DandelionMany flowers around you are actually edible and some of them very tasty. Cathy’s intro: Flowers that you can grow and also eat. That story’s ahead on This Land of Ours.

Edible Flowers

From: Modern Farmer

Not Just Pretty to Look At: Try These 10 Edible Flowers

Dandelion Preserves edible flowers

Dandelion Preserves

Eating flowers seems almost heretical. If plants could talk, wouldn’t they say, you can look, even sniff, but please don’t wolf down my pretty petals? The dainty apple flower, after all, is what gives way to the fruit, and thus the seed, ensuring the cycle of life continues. Do you dare give into the temptation to pluck it for food?

Many a chef certainly has. But most folks have no idea of the vast array of flowers that are edible. Apple blossoms impart a delicate floral flavor to fruit salads, along with a heavenly aroma. With many herbs, the flowers taste just like the leaf—chive flowers are a colorful way to infuse salad dressing with a garlic flavor.

Other flowers are technically edible, but unpleasantly acrid—chrysanthemums, for example. One reference describes the flavor of wax begonias as slightly bitter with “a hint of swamp.”

Exercise caution when using flowers in the kitchen, though: many are poisonous. Those daffodils in your perennial border could cause nausea, diarrhea, itchiness, stupor, convulsions, or even death, depending on how much you eat. Though in almost all cases it’s not just the flower that’s poisonous, it’s the entire plant. Here is a list of common poisonous plants whose flowers you don’t want to harvest for the kitchen. And below is a list of safe-to-consume flowers that we think you’ll enjoy, with a few thoughts on how to grow and use them.

Calendula – Annual/All Zones

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

These cheery flowers have a fairly neutral, nondescript flavor and are used to brighten up both salads and sweets. Pastry chefs sometimes use them to make floral designs on cheesecakes and other goodies. The petals hold their golden-orange color when cooked, so some chefs use them as a saffron substitute.

Calendula is easy to grow from seed, and often reseeds itself in the garden each year without any effort on the part of the gardener. Needs full sun and regular water.

Daylily – Zones 3 to 9



Most types of lilies are mildly toxic when consumed, but not daylilies. (Though botanically speaking, daylilies are not a true lily.) Daylily blossoms are meatier than most flower petals, with a succulent texture and a mildly sweet taste like romaine lettuce. Chop them up and add them to salads, but be sure to sample the flavor first, as some daylily varieties taste better than others. Try stuffing them with herbed cheese or dipping the unopened flower buds in batter and frying them up as an hors d’oeuvre.

Daylilies, which are generally sold as a potted plant, are easy to grow in sun or part sun, as long as you provide ample moisture. In rich soil they spread to form extensive colonies.

Dandelion – Zones 3 to 9


Dandelions in the meadow.

Adventurous foodies relish the bitter flavor of dandelion greens in salads and soups. But few realize the flowers are also edible. Use dandelion flowers exactly as you would calendula, a close botanical relative. The flavor is sweeter if picked immediately after the flowers open.

Dandelions can be found growing as a weed almost everywhere, in lawns and in cracks in the sidewalk, though you can purchase seeds if you want to establish a bed for culinary use. Needs full sun and is drought tolerant once established.

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