Flowers You Can Eat :List of 21 Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are flowers that can be consumed. Many edible flowers are high in vitamin A and  vitamin C and some essential nutrients. Flowers may be eaten as vegetables as a main part of a meal, or may be used as herbs [1-4]. The edible flowers have gained popularity as an important ingredient to provide unique flavors, textures and colors and decoration to a dish.

Edible flowers range in taste from sweet, fruity, nutty, sour, spicy, peppery and pungent.

Continue reading below to know tips on how to grow and harvest edible flowers and a list of fastest growing edible flowers and how to use them. Also know some words of caution form eating flowers and a list of common house plants that are toxic which you must not eat.

For centuries, flowers have been in use in Asian, Middle Eastern and European cuisines as herbs or part of main meal [1]. For example, the use of rosewater in India is quite common.
Other example is saffron, which is used worldwide in many things ranging from cheeses, confectioneries to curries, desserts, soups, baked goods, meat dishes and so on.

Some tips for growing and preparing your edible flowers are given below.

Points To Note before Eating Flowers : Some words of caution

  1. If you have allergies, hay-fever or asthma, be careful in consuming flowers.
  2. Note that not every flower is edible. Eat flowers that are known to be edible. Do not eat unknown flowers, they may be poisonous.  You may grow them yourself from seed or buy organically grown plants.
  3. Use flowers that are free of insects and diseases.
  4. Choose flowers which have not been sprayed with pesticides, insecticide, fungicide or herbicide. Wash the flowers thoroughly with salted water to get to rid of tiny insects before using them. Be careful about eating flowers if you have not grown them in your garden.
  5. Before starting eating flowers, you should test by consuming only a small quantity. If you feel symptoms of upset stomach or other symptoms, stop eating that flower, you may be allergic to that flower.
  6. Only eat flowers in small quantities.
  7. Some flowers are safe to eat only in small amounts. Apple flowers contain cyanide precursors, while borage and daylily flowers are diuretics.

Storage of Edible Flowers

It is best to use edible flowers within a few hours. However, if you need to store, wrap the flowers in damp kitchen paper towel and enclosed it in a ziplock bag. Store  in your fridge's crisper section.
Morning and evening are the best time to pick flowers from the plant.

How to Use Edible Flowers

  1. Use edible flowers that are specifically grown for eating. You can find edible flowers in your local garden shop. They can be eaten as part of a main dish and can be incorporated into salads, beverages, dressings, vinegar and marinades.
  2. Note that some flowers are highly poisonous so it is important to ensure that they are safe to consume. If in doubt, consult a horticulturalist at your local nursery.
  3. Most edible flowers are eaten raw. Fresh flowers soon after they have opened will taste good. Avoid unopened, wilted or faded flowers.
  4. For the flowers having too many pollen, first remove the stamens and pistil and then brush the excess pollen from the petals. Remove the petals and discard the bitter tasting white or non-colored portions.
  5. Generally, petals are good to eat, stems and pistils may have a bitter taste. Add flower petals just before serving the salad so that they remain firm.
  6. Some flowers, like banana flowers are cooked before use, while Violas and zucchinis can be eaten whole.
  7. You can freeze flowers in ice cubes or float them on drinks.
  8. You can use flowers in a variety of ways. You may use edible flowers in salads, teas,  cordials, jams, tarts and deserts, crepes, cake decorating, garnishing and dressings, rice-paper rolls, stuffing, freezing in ice-cubes, etc.

Edible Flowers List

Following is a list of some edible flowers [3].

Picture of Marigold
Marigold

Picture of Picture of Marigold
Mint

Rose
Rose

Saffron flower
Saffron flower

Picture of Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums

1. Artichokes

Artichokes are eaten while they are still in bud form. You can roast, grill, steam or marinate.

2. Banana Flower

Banana flowers contain vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. The inner petals or bracts of the banana flower are the edible parts. The banana flowers are used for making vegetable curries, also in soup, stews and salads. It can be served with dips.

3. Borage (Borago officinalis)

The sky blue star-like flowers of borage has a light cucumber taste. The flower petals can be added in  salads and ice-cubes. The borage plants are annual plants, flowering in summer require full-sun or part shade.

4. Calendula

The petals taste slightly peppery. Separate the petals from the flower head and sprinkle the petals into salads or other dishes. I can be used in place of saffron to colour rice.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile flowers have a flavor similar to an apple. It is said to be anti-inflammatory.
The chamomiletea has calming effects. It can be used in salads, soups, cakes, puddings and bread. Avoid chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed.

6. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum flowers, specially white and yellow flowers areboiled to a tea in China, like chamomile flowers. They are said to be high in anti-oxidants, and possess anti-inflammatory properties. In Korea, chrysanthemum flowers are used to flavor a rice wine.

7. Daisy

The petals of daisy flowers are used to garnish many dishes like sandwiches, soups and salads.

8. Geranium

Geraniums have a sour citrus flavour, they are great for summer cordials and ice-cubes. The red and pink geraniums add color to your dish. They flower mainly in Spring and Summer, and some for the whole year.

9. Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are sweet and used in salads, and making hibiscus tea. They are believed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.4.Hibiscus
Hibiscus flowers are sweet and used in salads, and making hibiscus tea. They are believed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

10. Jasmine

Jasmine flowers are used in teas. Note that all jasmine species, except Jasminum sambac are poisonous.

11. Lavender

This lavender is a fragrant flower. It has intense sweet perfumed flavor. It is used not only to flavor ice creams and yogurts, but also  cakes, biscuits, custard, jam, jelly, sorbet, etc. Lavender oil may be poisonous.

12. Marigolds

Their leaves have a citrus taste and saffron-like flavor. The flowers of signet marigolds like Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem can be used in stews, stir-fries, rice, salad, soup, pasta, etc.  Can be used in tea. Marigolds can be used to add color to your cooking.
Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem have the best flavor. White base of the petal is bitter, remove it.  May be harmful if eaten in large amounts.

13. Mint

All flowers of the mint family are edible. Try drinking hot or cold mint tea. Also used in beverages, jellies, candies, syrups, ice creams, etc.

14. Nasturtium

Nasturtium flowers have a peppery flavour and are sweet. They can be used as a salad. The entire nasturtium flowers or their petals can be steamed or fried like zucchini flowers. The colorful nasturtium plants flower in Summer and Autumn without much care. They are among the fastest growing flowers.

15. Pansies

Pansies are some of the most colorful edible flowers having a mild sweet grassy flavor. Use pansies for garnishing your salads, soups and desserts like cakes. You can decorate your dish with pansies instead of cherries. Can be eaten whole width crackers with cheese.

Pansies are high in potassium, so beneficial for heart, kidney, blood pressure.

16. Rose

Rose flowers contain a number of vitamins and phenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed in India that rose petals have cooling effect on the body. You can include raw rose petals for garnishing desserts and in cold drinks. They are also used in syrups, vinegar and jams. The use of rose water is quite common in Indian desserts. Rose petals are used for making herbal tea.

17. Rosemary

This is a herb plant whose flowers have a mild taste than its leaves. It is used fro garnishing.

18. Saffron

Saffron is the costliest herb of the world. Ut us used in confectioneries, curries, desserts, soups, baked goods, meat dishes, etc.
You can also pick the flowers in the morning as soon as they open and harvest the stigmas (saffron threads) using tweezers.

19. Sunflowers

 The petals of sunflower flowers have a bitter-sweet flavor, which are eaten raw in salads, while sunflower heads are steamed.

20. Violas

Violas flower don't have a strong taste, their petals can be used in salads or as a garnish or for cake decoration or freeze in ice cubes.

21. Zucchini

Zucchini flowers can be fried and stuffed to make vegetable curries.

Edible Flower Growing Tips

  1. Edible flowers do not need any special care, they are grown in the same manner as normal flowers are grown. They need well-draining soil and most of them thrive in lot of sunshine.
  2. Grow organically. Do not use any chemical pest sprays in growing these flowersStart with a nutrient rich soil so taht you do not need any chemical fertilizer.
  3. Stop feeding animal manure a few months before you harvest flowers.

List of Common Toxic Plants

Following is a list of some common garden plants with toxic flowers or parts [3, 5].
Azaleas
Bleeding heart
Calla lily
Castor bean
Daffodil
Flowering tobacco
Foxglove
Hyacinth
Jasmine - Day blooming and Night blooming)
Lily of the Valley
Oleander
Poinsettias
Poppy
Rhododendrons
Sweet pea (seeds)

References

 1. Ginny Coyle,  Edible Flowers. University of Minnesota Extension Service.
 2. Cyndi Lauderdale and Lucy Bradley, Choosing and Using Edible Flowers, NC State Expension Publication, Oct 20, 2014
3. Newman, S. E. and A. S. O'Connor. Edible Flowers. Colorado State University Extension. 2013,
4. Barash, C. W. Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate. Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 1993.
5. Lampe, Kenneth F., AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, 1985. American Medical Association