University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
year, when ordering your seeds from the catalogs, check out the
varieties. You can have an attractive
flower garden and eat from it too, adding some excitement to your
flavors, and impressing your meal guests.
concept of eating flowers is not new. Flower cookery has been
traced back to
Roman times and was especially popular in the Victorian era.
restaurant chefs and innovative home cooks garnish their entrees
blossoms for a touch of elegance. While
salads and garnishes on plates are the most common uses, steep
some in warm
water to use this in recipes. Others can
be used to flavor stews, drinks, and confections.
very important point that you need to remember is that not every
edible. In fact, sampling some flowers can make you very, very
sick, so do your
research first. Some can eat certain
flowers, others may be allergic to them.
Or a few flowers may be fine, too many may cause gastric upset or
purchasing flower seeds, make sure the listing in the seed catalog
the variety as an edible flower. The
most important point is, when growing them, never use any
pesticides on plants
you plant to use for their flowers.
edible flower that everyone is familiar
with is the sunflower. Choose a mammoth or giant variety. You can
seeds after the petals drop, cure them, then eat them raw or
oven-roasted. There are many other
possibilities for edible flowers.
Jump Ups are a tender perennial with tiny, pansy-like flowers in
mauve, yellow and white. Blossoms have a mild wintergreen flavor
and can be
used in salads, to decorate cakes, or served with soft cheese.
This plant will
do well in sun or shade and grows to a height of six to eight
begonias are an annual in cold climates, grown from a tuber that
indoors similar to a dahlia. Flowers
have a sour citrus taste, the petals often used in salads and as a
garnish. The stems even can be used like rhubarb. Avoid this
plant though if you have gout,
kidney stones, rheumatism or similar problems, as it contains
is another annual that has been widely used, growing one to two
foot high with
yellow to gold or orange daisy-like flowers.
This has been called “poor man’s saffron”, as it can be used
with a similar sharp taste. The petals
give a yellow tint to soups, pasta, rice, or herbal butters.
is a low-growing annual, originally from Peru, which became
popular during the
reign of Louis XIV who grew them in the palace flower beds.
Blossoms taste like
watercress with a slightly sweet flavor. You have several edible
choose from, most of which grow best in full sun or light shade.
lemon or tangerine varieties of signet marigolds. Blossoms have a
and can be used to perk up vegetables, pasta, and salads.
Marigolds are easy to
grow and like full sun.
hyssop, an attractive perennial, bears deep lilac-colored flower
bloom profusely for several months. The blossoms make attractive
garnishes and are often used in Chinese-style dishes. The leaves
can be used
for a naturally sweet tea or sugar to make candies. Both flowers
have a delicate anise or licorice flavor. Some people say the
them of root beer.
is an annual ornamental with clusters of one-half inch sky-blue
bees find particularly attractive. Borage blossoms have a light
and can be added to salads, fruit
cups, or frozen in ice cubes for cold drinks. Some add them to
beverages like white wine,
or to brandy and sherry for a punch. Plants
grow two to three feet tall.
can seed itself around profusely, so beware.
This herb has attractive lavender-pink blossoms that make a
addition to salads, egg dishes, and potatoes. Both blossoms and
dark green leaves (or "stems") have a subtle onion flavor. This
perennial plant likes full sun and can grow to one foot.
with edible blossoms are runner beans (garnish soups and salads)
(eat as a vegetable, or fill with a stuffing). The yellow flowers
add a mild spicy flavor to salads or stir fry.
Or sample the tiny flowers of arugula and herbs such as chamomile,
oregano, dill, garlic chives, thyme, rosemary, mint, or savory.
Lavender flowers have many uses in cooking,
such as in bread, sorbet, cookies, stews, and to flavor beef and
pork. It is elegant added to champagne or chocolate
are many other potential flowers you may find in catalogs. Also
consider cornflower (sweet to spicy, use
as a garnish), dame’s rocket (related to mustard, it adds a bitter
salads), impatiens and peony (both with sweet flavor when added to
drinks), or primrose (also called cowslip, the flowers add a sweet