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Edible Flowers

There are many plants that produce edible flowers and are safe to eat if they are grown without the use of pesticides.

zucchini blossoms

Photo: WFIU Staff

Zucchini blossoms are among the many edible flowers.

It is tempting for a gardener to pick something edible from the garden (e.g. a cherry tomato), and immediately pop it into his or her mouth. However, it is best not to do this.

One never knows where young children from the neighborhood may be lurking, even if there are none currently residing in the home, and eating things right off a plant sets a dangerous precedent. There are lots of poisonous plants out there. In her book Wicked Plants (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2009), author Amy Stewart makes readers shudder at the large number of them.

However, there are many plants that produce edible flowers and that are safe to eat if they are grown without the use of pesticides. Here are a few of them:

  • Chefs suggest sautéing flowers like squash blossoms and daylily buds.
  • Bergamot, sometimes called bee balm or monarda, makes a delicious tea. Jasmine tea is also popular.
  • The flowers as well as the foliage of herbs such as chives, rosemary and sage are edible. The blooms of calendula, elderberry, English daisy, for-get-me-not and hollyhock are, too.
  • Honeysuckle, lavender, rose and nasturtium both smell and taste good and are often used as garnishes.
  • Yucca, violet, pansy and snapdragon flowers are also safe to eat.
  • Even the succulent portulaca, sometimes called moss rose, can be chewed if you wish to.

Although I love to see a plate garnished with flowers, I am less interested in chomping down on pretty petals than many people are these days. It is hard to admire the visual charms of a flower while one is devouring it!

For a list of edible flowers (and some excellent recipes) consult The Sage Cottage: Herb Garden Cookbook by Dorry Baird Norris published by the Globe Pequot Press, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, 1991, (Page 70).

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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