A List of Edible Flowers and Ten Rules for Eating Them

Yes, Sunflowers Are An Edible Flower!


Anise Hyssop (F)                          Agastache foeniculum
Basil (F)(C)                                  Ocimum basilicum
Bee Balm (F)                                Monarda didyma
Borage (E-)*                                Borago officinalis
Calendula (P)(C)                          Calendula officinalis
Chamomile (Annual) (P)(C)          Matricaria recutita
Chives (F)(C)                               Allium schoenoprasum
Garlic Chives (F)(C)                     Allium tuberosum
Dianthus (P)(W)(C)                      Dianthus spp.
Dandelion (E-)**                         Taraxacum officinale
Daylily (E-)(B)                             Hemerocallis spp.
Eastern Redbud (E)(B)                Cercis canadenis
English Daisy (P)(C)                    Bellis perennis
  Oxeye Daisy (P)(C)                   Leucanthemum vulgaris or  
                                                    Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
Johnny-Jump-Ups (E)(C)             Violia tricolor
Lavender (English) (F)(C)             Lavandula angustifolia, any angustifolia variety,
                                                      especially 'Munstead' or 'Hidcote'
Lilacs (F)                                      Syringa vulgaris
Marigold (Signet) (P)(C)              Tagetes tenuifolia 'Lemon Gem' or 'Tangerine Gem'
Mint (F)(C)                                  Mentha x piperita (Peppermint) or
                                                    Mentha spicata (Spearmint)
Nasturtium (E)(P)(C)                    Tropaeolum majus
Pansies (E)(P)(C)                         Viola x wittrockiana
Peas (Vegetable) (E)                     Pisum sativum
Roses (P)(W)                               Rosa gallica, R. moschata, R. centifolia
                                                    & R. damascena
Rosemary (E)(C)                          Rosmarinus officinalis
Sage (F)                                       Salvia officinalis,
Pineapple Sage (F)                       Salvia elegans
Scented Geraniums (E)(C)            Pelargonium spp.
                                                      (lemon or rose scented leaves)
Squash Blossoms (E-)                  Cucurbita spp.
Sunflower (P)(B)                          Helianthus annuus
Thyme (F)(C)                               Thymus spp.
Violets (P)(E)                               Viola odorata
Yucca (P)(W)                               Yucca spp

(B) Buds can be eaten; (C) Can be grown in containers; (E) Entire flower can be eaten; (E-) Entire flower minus stamens, styles or sepals; (F) Florets can be eaten; (P) Petals can be eaten; (W) Remove white part at base of petal before eating.  It may be bitter.  *Borage flowers should be avoided by pregnant and lactating women, as more than eight to ten flowers can cause milk to flow.  **Avoid if allergic to latex.
Sources:  "Edible Flowers:  From Garden to Palate" by Cathy Wilkinson Barash & "the Edible Flower Garden" by Rosalind Creasy & "Flowers in the Kitchen" by Susan Belsinger.

 I will get my comments on my list of favorite edible flowers, but in the meantime, here from Mother Earth Living are two links from one of my favorite author of edible flowers, Cathy Barash talking about her Guide to Eating Flowers and within that article is her List of Edible Flowers.  I like her book because she talks about both edible and inedible flowers.  Here are those ten points:


1.     Eat flowers only when you are positive they are edible.  Please learn the botanical names of plants.        No matter where you are in the world and if you don't speak the language, you will know what the plant is (if it's properly tagged) and if you don't think it is properly tagged, I wouldn't buy and eat it.)

2.     Just because it is served with food does not mean a flower is edible.  There are a lot of restaurants that use flowers for decoration, but don't necessarily have an idea whether it is edible.  Some flowers served may be edible, but not tasty.

3.     Eat only flowers that have been grown organically (not sprayed).  I would not go midnight shopping to the neighbors to try their new rose, unless you know that it has not be sprayed or drenched in chemicals.

4.     Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers (because they may have been sprayed).     I always say if you get roses from your significant other from a florist, make them into potpourri.  If you buy an annual or perennial that has an edible flower and they have been sprayed with chemicals wait for as long to eat them as possible once they are planted in a container or your garden.  If it is an annual clip off a couple of cycles of blooms before you eat the flowers.  If it is a perennial plant, you can wait until the following season to eat the flowers, if you are concerned.

5.     If you have hay fever, asthma or allergies, do not eat flowers.  I did talk to an allergist and they told me as long as you just eat the petals and none of the pollen, you should be fine.

6.    Do not eat flowers picked from the side of a road.  They have been contaminated by car emissions.      There are lots of daylilies and chicory that grow along the roadside.  Please don't eat those.

7.    Remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating.  Eat only the petals.  You may have to use tweezers to get the job done.

8.    Not all flowers are edible.  Some are poisonous.  Invest in a book on poisonous plants.

9.    There are many varieties of any one flower.  Flowers taste different when grown in different locations. This is regarding the species that are all edible, like the dianthus, daylily or rose to name a few.  You may have to try multiple varieties to find the tasty flowers.  Lilacs are another flower that are edible, but they have grassy, metallic and floral tastes.  You are really going to have to work to find the tasty ones.  Also different soils in your garden affect the taste of a flower.

10.  Introduce flowers into your diet the way you would new foods to a baby--one at a time in small quantities.  You want to introduce flowers into your diet and your family's diet gradually (children under 4 should not eat flowers and then plan parties to introduce them to your friends.  They will be glad you use edible flowers in small ways and not overwhelm them.
Source:  "Edible Flowers:  From Garden to Palate" by Cathy Wilkinson Barash with additional comments in blue by Lemon Verbena Lady.

Bibliography of Edible Flower Books and Other Herbal Books:

Barash, Cathy Wilkinson, Edible Flowers:  From Garden to Palate.  Golden:  Fulcrum Publishing, 1995.  (This is probably the most complete book.  It has good information concerning edible vs. inedible flowers and great recipes.)

Belsinger, Susan, Flowers in the Kitchen.  Loveland:  Interweave Press, 1991.  (This book concentrates on edible flowers.  There is a very good list of 50 edible flowers and a plan for a garden.  Great recipes.)

Coombes, Allen J., Dictionary of Plant Names.  Portland:  Timber Press, 1999.  (If you want to learn botanical names, this is one of the best sources.)

Creasy, Rosalind, the Edible Flower Garden.  Boston:  Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., 1999.  (This is a good beginner book.  Sound information on edibles vs. inedibles.  Simple but good recipes.)

Hopkinson, Patricia, Miske, Diane, Parsons, Jerry and Shimizu, Holly, Herb Gardening.  New York:  Pantheon Books, 1994.  (This is the American Garden Guides Series of books; and I think it is a very complete herb book.)

McVicar, Jekka, Good Enough to Eat.  London:  Kyle Cathie Limited, 1997.  (This is by my English friend and author and will give you a different perspective on edibles.  This is a picture across from the Acknowledgments page that contains foxgloves in it.  They are not an edible flower.)

Peterson, Lee Allen, A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977.  (This is a good field trip book.  There are updated versions available.)

Schreiber, Denise, Eat Your Roses.  Pittsburgh:  St. Lynn's Press, 2011.  (This book is by my friend who started an Edible Flowers Fest many years ago.  She has a lot of experience in cooking with edible flowers and good information about both edible and inedible flowers and delicious recipes.  This is the most current book available.)

Turner, Nancy J. and Szczawinski, Adam F., Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America.  Portland:  Timber Press, 1991 (This book has very good color photos and information.)

Not Recommended at This Time

Jacobs, Miriam, Cooking with Edible Flowers.  Pownal:  Storey Communications, 1999.  (This small booklet while very affordable talks about sweet pea flowers (Lathyrus odoratus) as being an edible flower. Took my opinion with backup material to Storey and they chose to continue publishing this booklet as is.  Please do not eat sweet pea flowers.)

© 2013 Nancy Heraud

A link to Edible Flowers Back Story and Additional Choices of Edible Flowers. 

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