What are Edible Flowers?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Edible flowers are, quite simply, flowers that can be consumed by human beings. Most flowers should not be eaten by humans, but there are some that can be added to dishes. Most commonly edible flowers are added as garnishes to entrees and desserts. In some cases they are incorporated into a dish as an ingredient. Some flowers that are favorites for bouquets also happen to be edible. Examples, include roses, violets, and marigolds. Other edible flowers include nasturtiums, bean blossoms, and miniature pansies.

Hibiscus flowers are commonly enjoyed in teas.
Hibiscus flowers are commonly enjoyed in teas.

When cooking with edible flowers, it is key to make sure that the flowers are actually the edible variety. Although the plant kingdom is large and widely varied, there are some species that closely resemble one another. Just as it is always important to make sure that mushrooms are edible before ingesting them — especially if the mushrooms have been collected in the wild — it is very important to make sure that edible flowers are in fact edible before cooking with them or using them as garnishes.

Verbena, or vervain, can be used to make a relaxing tea.
Verbena, or vervain, can be used to make a relaxing tea.

There are a number of helpful books and articles online that can help to identify edible flowers from non-edible varieties. Another way to make sure that flowers are edible is to purchase them from a florist. Another option is to purchase them from a specialty green grocer who sells edible flowers. Recipes that call for these kinds of flowers often give hints on where to find the flowers and how to identify the edible varieties from the inedible varieties.

Marigolds are edible flowers.
Marigolds are edible flowers.

There are a few edible flowers that are regularly used to make herbal teas. One of the most common flowers used in tea is chamomile. Chamomile flowers are harvest and dried before being used to make tea or tea blends. It is a caffeine-free drink that many people find helps them to relax and to fall asleep at night. Other flowers used in teas include lemon verbena and hibiscus.

Chamomile flowers are dried and can be used alone or with other herbs in tea.
Chamomile flowers are dried and can be used alone or with other herbs in tea.

Some edible flowers are actually made out of fruit. It has become popular in recent years to create baskets of fruit that are cut and displayed in such a way that they resemble baskets of flowers. Melon, for example, may be cut into the shape of a daisy. A strawberry or grape may be used to mimic the center of a flower. Although these are not actually flowers that happen to be edible, they are often marketed as edible flower baskets.

Roses are an edible flower.
Roses are an edible flower.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon995074

Oh heck yes. You can make really good dandelion wine with dandelions. Just make sure you let it age at least six months. Otherwise, it's just gross. I just finished the last bottle I made in '92, and I don't even like wine, but dandelion wine is just fantastic.

QuirkyMango

@Diwrecktor- I wonder what they taste like, too. I've never tried eating flowers, or dandelions. Maybe someone will come along to comment who has actually tried eating flowers and let us know.

Diwrecktor

I have never tried eating flowers, but I've heard even some plants we consider weeds, like dandelions can be eaten or made into tea or something.

I may be willing to try it if I knew exactly which flowers you can eat, and if there are any benefits to doing so. I can't imagine that they taste so good people want to eat them.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: