Sunday, September 8, 2013

Edible Flowers

There are so many uses for flowers. Whether you place a bunch in a vase, stick them in your hair, ask for forgiveness when you mess up or carry them down the isle at your wedding--they have become a part of our lives whether we realize it or not. 

They are beauty, they are love, they make you smile.

But....did you know that they can also be used in you favorite recipe. I mean, whether you realize it or not you season your food with herbs every day--basil, you drink them--chamomile, eat them--arugula and even place them on the bottoms of your babies--calendula.

Let's take it a step further... Below is a list of the common and botanical name of edible flowers and their uses. Follow the link for each so you can take a look at what each looks like.

Common Name        Botanical Name 

Angelica Angelica archangelica May be skin allergen to some individuals. Good with fish and the stems are especially popular candied. Tastes like: celery-flavored. 

Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Tastes like: sweet, anise-like, licorice

Apple Malus species Eat in moderation; may contain cyanide precursors. Tastes like: delicate floral flavor

Arugula Eruca vesicaria Tastes like: nutty, spicy, peppery flavor

Basil Ocimum basilicum Tastes like: different varieties have different milder

flavors of the corresponding leaves. Tastes like: lemon, mint.

Bee Balm Monarda species Also known as bergamot, it is used to make a tea with a flavor similar to Earl Grey Tea. 

Borage Borago officinalis Taste like: light cucumber flavor. 

Burnet Sanguisorba minor Tastes like: faint cucumber flavor, very mild.

Calendula* Calendula officinalis Tastes like: poor man's saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery, adds a golden hue to foods.

Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus) Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like.

Chamomile* Chamaemelum nobile Tastes like: faint apple flavor, good as a tea.

Chicory* Cichorium intybus Buds can be pickled.

Chives: Garden Allium schoenoprasum Tastes like: mild onion flavor.

Chives: Garlic Allium tuberosum Tastes like: garlicky flavor.

Chrysanthemum: Garland* Chrysanthemum coronarium Tastes like: slight to bitter flavor, pungent.

Citrus: Lemon Citrus limon Tastes like: waxy, pronounced flavor, use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters.

Clover Trifolium species Raw flowerheads can be difficult to digest.

Coriander Coriander sativum Pungent. A prime ingredient in salsa and many Spanish and Asian dishes. Tastes like: Some palates detect a disagreeable soapy flavor while others adore it. 

Cornflower* Centaurea cynaus (aka Bachelor's Buttons) Tastes like: sweet to spicy, clove-like.

Dandelion* Taraxacum officinalis Tastes like: very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.

Day Lily Hemerocallis species Many Lilies (Lillium species) contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Daylillies may act as a laxative. Tastes like: sweet, crunchy, like a crisp lettuce leaf, faintly like chestnuts or beans.

Dill Anthum graveolens 

English Daisy* Bellis perennis Tastes like: tangy, leafy.

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Tastes like: sweet, licorice flavor. 

Fuchsia Fuchsia X hybrida Tastes like: slightly acidic.

Gardenia Gardenia jasminoides Tastes like: light, sweet flavor.

Gladiolus* Gladiolus spp Tastes like: similar to lettuce.

Hibiscus Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Tastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage.

Hollyhock Alcea rosea Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor.

Honeysuckle Japanese Lonicera japonica Berries are highly poisonous. Do not eat them!

Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis Should be avoided by pregnant women and by those with hypertension and epilepsy.

Impatiens Impatiens wallerana Tastes like: very bland, nondescript flavor.

Jasmine Arabian Jasminum sambac Tastes like: delicate sweet flavor, used for teas.

Johnny-Jump-Up Viola tricolor Contains saponins and may be toxic in large amounts. Tastes like: sweet to bland flavor.

Lavender Lavendula species Lavender oil may be poisenous. Tastes like: floral, slightly perfumey flavor.

Lemon Verbena Aloysia triphylla Tastes like: lemony flavor, usually steeped for tea.

Lilac Syringa vulgaris Tastes like: lemony, floral, pungent.

Mallow Common Malva sylrestris Tastes like: sweet, delicate flavor.

Marigold Signet Tagetes tenuifolia (aka T. signata) Tastes like: spicy to bitter.

Marjoram Origanum majorana.

Mint Mentha species.

Mustard Brassica species Eating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches.

Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus Buds are often pickled and used like capers. Tastes like: sweet, mildly pungent, peppery flavor.

Okra Abelmoschus aesculentus
(Hibiscus esculentus) Tastes like: similar to squash blossoms.

Pansy Viola X wittrockiana Tastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor.

Pea Pisum species Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous.

Pineapple Guava Feijoa sellowiana Tastes like: similar to the ripe fruit of the plant, flavorful.

Primrose Primula vulgaris Birdseye Primrose (P. farinosa) causes contact dermatitis. Tastes like: bland to sweet flavor.

Radish Raphanus sativus Tastes like: milder, sweeter version of the more familiar radish heat.

Redbud Cercis canadensis Tastes like: mildly sweet.

Rose Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis Tastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter, 
white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible.

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Tastes like: pine-like, sweet, savory. 

Runner Bean Phaseolus coccineus Tastes like: nectar, bean-like.

Safflower* Carthamus tinctorius Another "poor man's saffron" without the pungent aroma or strong flavor of the real thing.

Sage Salvia officinalis Sage should not be eaten in large amounts over a long period of time. Tastes like: varies by type. 

Savory Summer Satureja hortensis.

Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus Tastes like: bland to bitter flavor.

Society Garlic Tulbaghia violacea Tastes like: a very mild garlic flavor.

Squash Blossom Cucurbita pepo species (aka Zucchini Blossom) Tastes like: sweet, nectar flavor. 

Sunflower* Helianthus annus Tastes like: leafy, slightly bitter. Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Tastes like: lemon, adds a nice light scent.

Tuberous Begonia Begonia X tuberosa ONLY HYBRIDs are edible. The flowers and stems contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidneystones, or rheumatism. Further, the flower should be eaten in strick moderation. Tastes like: crisp, sour, lemony.

Violet Viola species Tastes like: sweet, nectar.

(Banana) Yucca Yucca baccata Flowers (petals only) and fruit are edible. Other parts contain saponin, which is poisonous. Large amounts may be harmful. Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor Tastes like: crunchy, fresh flavor.

Flowers to Avoid Some flowers in particular to be avoided. This is not a complete list: azalea, crocus, daffodil, foxglove, oleander, rhododendron, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily of the valley, and wisteria. See a more complete list.

*Only the petals of these composite flowers are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic and may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hay fever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergies to ingesting any flowers at all.

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Disclaimer: The author and Home Cooking Guide have thoroughly researched all the aforementioned edible flowers. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. Neither the authors or Home Cooking can be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers.

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