Monday, January 28, 2013

Edible Flowers Back Story and Additional Choices of Edible Flowers!

'Frans Hal' Daylily
First of all the List of Edible Flowers that I gave you yesterday is certainly not complete nor the latest word on which flowers to eat.  I first started doing talks about edible flowers in the early 2000's.  I really didn't know too much.  I was learning as I went.  Honestly I am still learning.

Because I was connected to master gardening and extension, I needed to make the wisest decision about which flowers to talk about.  This first edible flowers fest I spoke at had about 200 people or more, young and old.  Because I was interested in herbs, we decided to lean the list toward the herbal side.  I had tulips on the list and then when I read in Cathy Barash's book that people had reactions that could cause numbness, I made the decision to take them off the list.  Also a lot of people talked about snapdragons as being an edible flower.  Again, I had to lean on another edible flowers author Rosalind Creasy who wrote in an Organic Gardening article that she could find no historic evidence that snapdragons were edible.  In the end we leaned toward tasty and mostly herbal flowers for my list and flowers that didn't have too many side effects!  Moderation in all things, including edible flowers.

Yesterday when I published my edible flowers list, Wildcraft Diva gave me some additional flowers to consider, including courgette or zucchini flowers (Cucurbita pepo) and I made a mistake that I will correct.  Because all Cucurbita are edible, I put the spp. after the species name, but I forgot the pepo.

She then mentioned elderflower (Sambucus nigra) the 2013 Herb of the Year.  What I wanted to say is that I didn't put Elderflower on this list because you have to be careful when using elderflower or elderberry (Sambucus canadensis or nigra).  The berries and flowers should never be eaten raw from the plant.  Always cook the berries.  Here is my friend, Jim Long's blog on the Herb of the Year - 2013 Elderberry .  I think it may give you some additional information and recipes.  Thanks Jim!

Now about the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) flowers.  I found a very nice and local blog called Food Under Foot.  They talked about eating black locust flowers in this blog post called Wild Edible Walk, In Pictures.  I also just found The 3 Foragers blogsite and a post about Black Locust Flowers with recipes.    I also discovered that black locust is listed in my favorite edible flowers book by Cathy Barash as poisonous.  Parts of the tree are toxic and it talks about eating the flowers when they are young.  If this is an unfamiliar tree to you, I would do a lot of research before I would eat the flowers and be very comfortable.  I found this fact sheet from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  There are people eating black locust flowers and surviving.

The Wildcraft Diva also said the red clover (Trifolium pratense) was an edible flower eaten by the Italians.  In her book, Edible Flowers From Garden to Palate, Cathy Barash said that raw clover flowers are not easily digestible in any quantity, but their sweet crunch adds a nice addition to salad.  The flowers can be dried and then brewed into tea.  She also says that clover can cause a skin rash in some sensitive people.  That would be me, unfortunately.

The Wildcraft Diva talked about the mallow (Malva sylvestris, Malva moschata, Malva alcea) as edible flowers.  I found this website called that may shed some light on the edible mallow varieties.  In Denise Schreiber's book she talks about Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus rosa-sinensus or China rose, Chinese hibiscus, Rose-of-China, Chinese rose or Hawaiian hibiscus and Hibiscus sabdariffa or Roselle.  She mentions that Roselle may have a diuretic effect so it should be eaten in small amounts.
So maybe you can see what I mean about learning the botanical names, but even then there may be other varieties that are more edible or available than others.  I have given links in the Diva's choices to various seed and plant links that appear to be European.  We are on different continents and so different varieties are going to be used.

I'm glad the Wildcraft Diva started a conversation.  Thanks WD!  I think I'm going to keep my original list as is and give a link to this post at the end of my list and will continue to add links to additional posts as the conversation goes forward.  It is a temperature rising kind of day.  We're going to be 60 tomorrow.  Ridiculous, but colder by the end of the week.  Can't say stay warm, because we are already there!  Talk to you later.


wildcraft diva said...

Gosh, you have been busy. Italians eat lots of things that they don't eat in the UK.
Courgette flowers are a very common addition to the table in Summer. Elderflower and Black Locust are quite common fried in a type of tempura(Yum). Mallow and Red Clover is less common, although Mallow Tea (Malva Sylvestris) is very common (even from my local, small super market. Here is a list of flowers on an Italian blog(some in latin ,but Italian names are similar)if you are interested(from a garden centre that specialises in edible plants).
The writer says she has only included plants she feels sure about or likes the taste of.
Evey region is also a bit different. I am very much a learner, but I find the subject facinating. Also because there are dffering views, different parts,times and reports of toxity!! I agree always research local plants(expert) and eat a small amount of a new ingredient.

lemonverbenalady said...

Well, WD, I wanted to make sure that I found out for you and me what was what. Thanks for your additional info. I'll check it out. xxoo LVL

Comfrey Cottages said...

Mmmmm black locust flowers are delicious! Yea for WD chiming in xx

lemonverbenalady said...

I love that you put this list up. I think I may give a few of these a try. on A List of Edible Flowers and The Ten Rules for Eating Them!

Charlotte Snyder

lemonverbenalady said...

Yes, my book said black locust flowers are poisonous! Think what I have been missing. Thanks for coming by, Leslie, as always, HS! xxoo LVL

Charlotte, I tried to delete your extra comment and just about deleted everything. Yikes! So I copied your comment and pasted it in. Thanks, I hope you enjoy some of my picks. xxoo LVL

Sharon Lovejoy said...

When I owned Heart's Ease we used to collect, cook, and prepare from a long list of edible flowers, both from my garden and from the fields. I made a few mistakes! I caught one of my employees picking sweet peas for a salad, NO NO!

I've never eaten snapdragons, well, I tasted them and they didn't do anything for me. So even though a flower might be edible, why waste your time on something tasteless?

Re clover: Native American Salinan, Esalen, Pomo, Yokuts, Chumash, and many more, savored new clover. It figured prominently in their diets. They ate them fresh or steam, or dried and stored for making soups.

This is one of my favorite topics. Cathy was a speaker at one of my classes. I think she showed us flowers from A to Z. Wonderful.

Sending love,


lemonverbenalady said...

Thanks for your memories, dear Sharon! Yes, I share your sentiments. Why eat something that has no taste? Yes, clover would be a native plant. It is all fascinating, isn't it? Thanks for your comment as always, dear! xxoo LVL