Edible flowers such as roses can be used fresh or dried. Whether you're nibbling edible petals or cooking up buds, flowers you can eat add fun to any table. They are eye catching, nutritious and delicious. Some restaurants use edible flowers in place of parsley as garnish and they are sold in the produce isle. We also use flowers for essential oils, medicines, dyes, art, decoration, beneficial insects and skincare.
In this post we'll talk about which parts of flowers are edible (such as edible petals), nutrition value, how they taste and how to use them. The top ten list of edible flowers includes those that are most commonly used and easily identified. For the adventurous eaters, we've also added over 60 more flowers you can eat. Just ask if you'd like one featured in a future post!
Some Important Safety Precautions for Using Edible Flowers
- Not every is safe to eat. Make sure you have a positive ID of an edible flower before sampling.
- Don't harvest flowers from roadsides or other contaminated areas such as chemically treated lawns. If an area has heavy animal use, harvest from another area. (Editor's note – I had a reader ask if you can wash off goat pee. I don't recommend trying it.)
- Try a small flower sample before eating a larger quantity. Although rare, allergic reactions are possible.
- Strongly flavored herb flowers are best used sparingly.
Here are our top 10 edible flowers, in no particular order. Enjoy!
Edible Flowers – #1 Sunflowers – genus Helianthus
Edible Parts: Leaves, Roots, Petals and Seeds.
Nutrition: Sunflowers contain Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B3, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Protein, Fiber
Flavor: When the sunflower is in the bud stage, it tastes similar to artichokes. Once the flower opens, the petal flavor is slightly bitter.
How to Eat Sunflowers
Seeds: Sunflower seeds are a healthy source of fats, protein and fiber. Eat them straight or in seed butter, homemade granola, cereals, sprinkled on salads and more.
Sprouts: Eat sunflower sprouts as a micro-green when they are 1-2″ tall. Toss them in a salad, add to a top of a sandwich, or placed on a grilled piece of fish.
Petals: Sunflower petals add amazing color, but can be a tad bitter. Use them sparingly in cooking.
Edible Flowers#2 – Violets – Viola Odorata
Edible Parts: Flowers and Leaves
Nutrition: Violets contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, and Calcium.
Flavor: The flowers have a sweet, perfumed flavor. Leaves are bright and grassy.
How to Eat Violets
Greens: Use violet leaves fresh in salads or cooked like spinach.
Flowers: Use violet flowers fresh to preserve their lovely color and aroma. They can also be made into jellies or candied. Sugared violets make a lovely garnish on top of cakes, muffins or pastries. Get the recipe for violet jelly in Weekly Weeder #23.
Edible Flowers – #3 Dandelions – Taraxacum officinalis
Edible Parts: Leaves, Seeds, Flower and Root.
Nutrition: Dandelions contain Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Copper, Phosphorus, Vitamin K, Vitamin A
“Greens of the humble dandelion provide 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which may be the most important source of any other plant-based food to strengthen bones, but may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuron damage in the brain.”
Flavor: Greens are earthy, nutty and pleasingly bitter. Roots are earthy with rich undertones. The flowers are sweet and crunchy. Dandelion seeds are mildly nutty with a hint of bitterness.
How to Eat Dandelions
Leaves: Dandelion leaves are great in smoothies, salads, sauteed, in pastas, stir-frys, soups and stews
Seeds: Although tough to gather in quantity, the seeds are edible. Nibble them straight out of the garden, or use them to make seed milk.
Flower: Dandelion flowers brighten desserts, pastries, breads, wines, jellies and jams. Dipped in cornmeal and fried, the blossoms taste very similar to mushrooms. We have a recipe for homemade dandelion wine, and cake made with the leftover fruit from the wine on the site.
Root: Dandelion roots are used in tea or roasted to make an herbal coffee substitute.
Edible Flowers #4 – Roses – genus Rosa
Edible Parts: Rose Petals and Rose Hips.
Nutrition: Rose hips are one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C. Rose hips contain the Carotenoids Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Lycopene. Rose petals also contain vitamin C at lower amounts.
Flavor: Roses taste sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. If a rose smells good, it will have a good flavor. If the rose does not have a scent, it will taste like nothing.
How to Use Roses
Rose Hips: Use rose hips to make jam, tea, or candy.
Rose Petals: Use Rose Petals to make rose water or teas. Use them for color on salads and cakes.
Edible Flowers #5 – Hibiscus – Hibiscus sabdariffa
Edible Part: Flower and Root
Nutrition: Hisbiscus is high is Niacin, Fiber, Protein, Amino Acids, Iron, Calcium (source)
Flavor: Cranberry-like flavor with citrus overtones.
How to Use Hibiscus
Use hibiscus in teas, soups, garnishes, water infusions or jelly. Hibiscus flowers may be stuffed like squash blossoms.
Hibiscus Herbal Tea
- 1 Tsp Organic Hibiscus
- 1 Tsp Organic Rosehips
- 1/2 Cinnamon Stick
- 1/2 Tsp of Grated Orange Peel
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over tea. Let steep for 10 mins. Strain and enjoy. Makes 2 cups
“I must have flowers, always, and always.”― Claude Monet
Edible Flowers #6 – Pansy – Viola Tricolor L
Edible Parts: Petals and Sepals
Nutrition: Vitamin C, Flavonoids, Resin, Saponin, Violin, Methyl Salicylate and Mucilage (source)
Flavor: Pansies have a slightly sweet green or grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild. If you eat the whole flower, it tastes more green.
How to Eat Pansies
Use edible pansies in soups, cocktails, desserts, salads or as a garnish.
Edible Flowers #7 – Nasturtium – Tropaeolum majus
Edible Parts: Young Leaves, Flowers and Buds
Nutrition: Vitamin C, Iron, Phenols, Glucosinolates, Mustard Oil, Flavonoids, Carotenoids.
Flavor: A sweet essence from the nectar, followed by a bold peppery tang.
How to Eat Nasturtiums
Leaves: Make a pesto with young leaves or toss in a salad.
Buds: Use nasturtium buds in vinegar infusions, salads, cocktails. Pickled seed pods are less expensive substitute for capers.
Flowers: Use entire flowers to garnish platters, salads, cheese toppings, open-faced sandwiches, and savory appetizers.
Edible Flowers #8 – Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
Edible Parts: Leaves and Flowers. Stems can be used in cooking prep and flavoring.
Nutrition: Vitamin A, Calcium, Phytochemicals, Limonene and Antioxidants.
Flavor: Sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes.
How To Eat Lavender
Leaves: Finely mince lavender leaves and sprinkle on savory foods for flavor.
Flowers: Try lavender flowers in desserts, jams, cocktails, drinks, breads, meat dishes, garnishes, cheeses.
Stems: The stems of sturdy lavender varieties make great kebab skewers for grilling.
Lavender Fields Forever Recipe
This is a wonderful refreshing adult beverage with floral tones. The beautiful lavender is sure to wow your guest.
- 1 ounce of lemon vodka
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce Lavender Syrup (simple syrup infused with 1 tsp of lavender)
- 1 drop purple food color
- fresh lavender sprig
- 1 Tbsp Culinary grade dried lavender flowers
- Lemon Slice
Fill a glass with ice. Pour the vodka, lemon juice and Lavender Syrup. Stir thoroughly. Roll the lemon slice in lavender and garnish glass.
Edible Flower #9 – Squash Blossoms – Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita Maxima, Cucurbita moschata
Edible Part: All Squash Blossoms
Flavor: Squash blossoms have a mild vegetable flavor-similar to zucchini or yellow squash
Nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron
How to Eat Squash Blossoms
You can eat squash blossoms: fried, baked, stuffed, in soups, on salads, in pastas, and in casserole dishes.
Edible Flowers # 10 – Calendula – Calendula officinalis
Edible parts: Petals
Nutrition/Compounds: Sterols, Calendic Acid, Lionleic Acid, Carotenoids, Flavonids, Trirerpenes, and Oleanolic Acid
Flavor: Light, citrus flavor. Flavors range from spicy to bitter, tangy to peppery.
How to Eat Marigolds
Marigolds are sometimes called “poor mans saffron”. Use marigold petal in cakes, pastries, salads, salad dressings, cocktails, custards, and sauces.
More Flowers You Can Eat
The following edible flowers are featured in The Edible Flower Cookbook” by Adrienne Crowhurst. This book was published all the way back in 1973, so the copies in circulation are showing their age, but it's a gem. Flowers that are featured in the Weekly Weeder series are linked below.
- Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
- Golden Alexanders (Ziziz aurea)
- Apple Blossoms (Malus species)
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Betony (Stachys palustris)
- Borage (Borage officinalis)
- Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
- Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
- Carnation (Dianthus species)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- Cattail (Typha latifolia)
- Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
- Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum species)
- Clary (Salvia sclarea)
- Clover (Red Clover)
- Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
- Costmary (Chrysanthemum balsmita)
- Cowslip (Primula veris)
- Daisy (Bellis perennis)
- Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva)
- Elder (Sambucus nigra)
- Gladiolus (Gladiolus species)
- Goat's Beard (Tragpogon pratensis)
- Goldenrod (Solidago species)
- Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
- Grape Hyacinth (Muscari atlanticum or Muscari botryoides)
- Hawthorne (Crataegus species)
- Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
- Hollyhock (Althea rosea)
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera species)
- Hop (Humulus lupulos)
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
- Jasmine (Jasminum species)
- Jonquil (Narcissus jonquilla)
- Lemon Blossom (Citrus limonum)
- Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
- Linden (Tilia american)
- Locust (robina pseudoacacia)
- Marsh Marigold (Caltha palutris)
- Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
- Melilot (Melilotus alba)
- Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
- Milkweed (Ascleias syriaca)
- Mimosa (Mimosa pudica)
- Motherwort ( Leonurus cardiaca)
- Mullien (Verbascum thapsiforme)
- Mustard (Brassica species)
- Orange Blossom (Citrus species)
- Passionflower (Passiflora coerulea)
- Peony (Paeoniaceae species)
- Plum Blossoms (Prunus species)
- Poppies (Papover species)
- Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
- Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
- Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
- Saffron (Crocus sativus)
- Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana)
- St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
- Thistle (Circium species)
- Thyme (Thymus species)
- Tulip (Tulipa species)
- Verbena (Verbena species)
- Woodruff (Asperula odorata)
- Wormwodd (Artemesia absinthium)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)
Share Your Edible Flower Recipes
Do you have a favorite recipe using edible flowers you'd like to share or questions about a specific edible flower? Leave a comment and let us know.
You may also enjoy:
- Companion Plants for the Garden
- Small Garden, Big Yields
- Tomato Flowers But No Fruit, or No Tomato Flowers – 9 Troubleshooting Tips
As always, social media shares appreciated if you enjoy the post!
This post is by Amber Bradshaw of My Homestead Life. Amber is a environmentalist, garden and outdoor enthusiast. She is a wife, mother of three and owns a contracting business with her husband. Amber strives to get back into nature with a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle that fits a busy schedule and a tight budget.
She lives on the east coast with her family on a little over 1/4 acre and encourages others to do big things with small spaces.
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