Cynthia is a foodie who enjoys cooking and testing out new kitchen tools and storage solutions.
Which Flowers Are Edible?
If you have flower beds, I bet you have plants growing that you can eat! Let's get started and find out if you have any nutritious plants growing that you can eat.
Opting for alternatives to regular gardening is key to adding additional food for your family in a doomsday or survival scenario. Plus, these flowers are just downright beautiful! Many of the plants you can eat will also add some lovely vibrant color to your landscape and aid pollinating insects and butterflies!
The average person sees flower beds as an ornamental focal point to lawns and landscapes, not giving a second thought to whether or not the plants provide nutrients. I decided a few years ago that I no longer wanted to waste my time growing anything I could not eat. Read on to learn more about which edible plants I grow and how I use them.
23 Flowers You Can Eat
2. Dame's Rocket
4. English Daisy
Dianthus caryophyllus, or Dianthus
7. Tuberous Begonias
Begonia X tuberosa
8. Wax Begonias
Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis
Tagetes tenuifolia—aka T. signata
Viola X wittrockiana
15. Johnny Jump Ups
20. Phlox Perrennial Phlox (the non-annual variety)
21. Scented Geranium
A Word of Caution
Never eat any plant unless you are 100% sure it is edible! Plants can kill you people, do not mess around! When in doubt, throw it out!
Unless they are grown organically, I do not suggest eating flowers or shrubs, you do not want to be ingesting pesticides, bug killers, or any chemicals for that matter. I suggest steering clear if you did not grow them yourself! If you have a skin reaction to any plant, even one that is edible, you should never eat it. Steer clear of anything growing in industrial areas or on roadsides, as these have likely had chemicals and pesticides used on them.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list!
1. Daylily (Hemerocallis)
Native to: Asia, primarily eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan
Notes on Daylily:
- They're like squash blossoms.
- They're naturally sweet, making for a great treat or dessert.
- Eat these in moderation, otherwise they have a laxative and diuretic effect. (Good to keep in mind if you get backed up!)
- Before eating them, cut the tops away from the bitter white base of the flower. (Please take note that many Lillie's are not edible as they contain Alkaloids.)
2. Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Native to: Eurasia
Notes on Dame's Rocket:
- To avoid bitterness, pick these when they are young.
- The young blossoms have a sweet honey like flavor.
- The plant and flower are edible, although very bitter.
3. Cornflower (Centaurea cynaus)
Native to: Europe's more temperate regions.
Notes on Cornflower:
- Commonly known as bachelor buttons.
- They have a clove like, sweet and spicy flavor, often used as a garnish for other dishes.
- The bloom is also a natural food dye.
4. English Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Native to: Europe
Notes on English Daisy:
- These flowers have a bitter taste, so make sure to use them as a garnish.
- They go well with salads or stir-fry.
5. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)
Native to: North America
Notes on Dandelions:
- It's a common weed.
- The flower and the greens are edible.
- It's best harvested when the greens are young and the flowers are still buds.
- They're great steamed or added to a spring salad.
- Their petals are delicious sprinkled over rice.
- In the spring, when the shoots are at least two to three inches high, they can be substituted for asparagus.
- Dandelion jelly is very common in my area and is made from the petals of this plant.
6. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus, or Dianthus)
Native to: Mediterranean countries of Croatia, Greece, Italy (including Sicily and Sardinia), and Spain
Notes on Carnations:
- It's been used as a secret ingredient in Chartreuse (french liquor) since the 17th century.
- They are surprising sweet, if cut away from the bitter base.
7. Tuberous Begonias (Begonia X tuberosa)
Native to: Central and South America
Notes on Tuberous Begonias:
- While they have a sour and citrus taste, the flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible.
- Stems are often used in place of rhubarb.
- The petals are great with salad.
- Please keep in mind that the stems and flowers contain oxalic acid and you should not consume them if you suffer from kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism.
8. Wax Begonias (Begonia cucullata)
Native to: South America
Notes on Wax Begonias:
- Flowers and fleshy leaves are edible raw, or cooked.
- You will notice a bitter aftertaste, I suggest pairing with another dish as a filler to eliminate the aftertaste.
9. Roses (Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis)
Native to: Rosa rugosa is native to eastern Asia, in northeastern China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Siberia, where it grows on beach coasts, often on sand dunes. R. gallica officinalis is native to Europe.
Notes on Roses:
- The flavor profile of roses varies with type, soil condition, and color.
- They are often sweet with subtle undertones of mint, spice, or fruit (such as strawberries or green apples).
- All roses are edible, and the darker they are, the more pronounced their flavor.
- The use of roses is very common in the culinary world.
- You can make rose petal scones, jam, and tea.
10. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Native to: The Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern France, and east to Turkey and Syria
Notes on Snapdragon:
- They are often bitter and bland in flavor.
- This would likely be a "last resort" for frequent eating.
11. Tulip (Tulipa)
Native to: Southern Europe all the way to Central Asia
Notes on Tulip:
- The petals are edible, and often taste like cucumber, sweet lettuce, or peas.
- Some people do have a negative reaction to eating these—if you get a rash from touching them, never, ever eat them.
- Never eat the bulb either.
12. Sunflower (Helianthus annus)
Native to: North America
Notes on Sunflower:
- When picked at bud stage, their flavor resemble artichokes.
- They can be steamed to open the petals, then be used in salads. And, as we all know, the seeds are edible too?
13. Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia, aka T. signata)
Native to: Mexico as well as Central America, Colombia, and Peru
Notes on Marigolds:
- It has a citrus flavor to it.
- It pairs well with salads.
- This flower also can be used as a substitute for saffron. So, it's a frugal-friendly flower!
14. Pansy (Viola X wittrockiana)
Native to: Temperate Northern Hemisphere and are also distributed in Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes in South America
Notes on Pansy:
- It has a slightly sweet, but grassy flavor.
- If you're eating just the petals, the flavor is light. But, if you're consuming the whole flower, the flavor intensifies.
- These are great in soups and as garnishes for leafy salads, fruit salads, and desserts.
15. Wild Pansy/Johnny Jump Ups (Viola tricolor)
Native to: Spain and the Pyrennes Mountains
Notes on Johnny Jump Ups:
- Flowers have a mild wintergreen flavor.
- They pair well with tea, desserts, soup, and salads.
16. Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Native to: Temperate zones of both hemispheres, but they also grow in the Himalayas, southern Asia, and North Africa
Notes on Honeysuckle:
- First, I want to be clear that the berries are poisonous do not eat them!
- I remember eating honeysuckle often when I was growing up. They have a sweet honey-like flavor to the flower. Only eat the flower!
17. Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
Native to: The tropics of Asia
Notes on Impatiens:
- Very sweet in flavor.
- It's good for drinks and desserts.
18. Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
Native to: Asia and Europe
Notes on Hollyhock:
- These are very bland in flavor.
- I would suggest using it as a filler in soup or other recipes.
19. Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
Native to: Asia, Europe, and western North America
Notes on Peony:
- It's often used in China as a tea time delicacy.
- They are great in salads and drinks.
20. Phlox Perrennial Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Native to: New York to Iowa, south to Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas
Notes on Perrennial Phlox:
- The annual variety is not edible! This is the taller high growing phlox (usually three to four feet high).
- It has a spicy taste.
21. Scented Geranium (Pelargonium)
Native to: Geranium is a genus of 422 species of flowering annual, biennial, and perennial plants that are commonly known as geraniums or cranesbills. They are found throughout the temperate regions of the world and the mountains of the tropics, but mostly in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region.
Notes on Scented Geraniums:
- First off, the citronelle variety is not edible.
- For the other varieties, their scents will generally correspond with their flavors.
22. Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Native to: Western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and parts of southwest Asia
Notes on Primrose:
- Commonly know as cowslip, this flower has a sweet, but bland, taste.
- Flower buds pickle well, you can also ferment them into wine or cook them as you would a vegetable.
23. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
Native to: Mexico, Central America, and northern South America
Notes on Nasturtiums:
- This has a peppery, often sweet and spicy, flavor.
- These are great for many dishes!
- You can pickle the seed pods for a frugal alternative to capers.
- The peppery stalk is great in salad.
- You can stuff the whole flowers with a savory filling, or use them to garnish cheese, sandwiches, or savory dishes.
- It's not a bad plant to have if you forgot to stockpile pepper!
Edible Landscaping and Dietary Changes
It is important to take into consideration the dietary changes involved here. You should never drastically change your eating habits. Instead, gradually add new unfamiliar items, but only if you are 100% sure they are safe for human consumption! Eating a large quantity of plants can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
You should also remove the stamen prior to consumption as well. The pollen on the stamen can have a negative effect and flare up your allergies. Much more so than just walking outside when the pollen count is up!
I hope that you are intrigued by the possibility of edible landscaping. Many plants offer frugal alternatives to common expensive store bought items like saffron and capers! When you purchase seeds for this coming planting season, stop and think, can I eat that? If so, then it is a great buy! While flowers are beautiful to look at, I much prefer knowing I can eat them if I need to!
This can also work double duty with companion gardening. Pairing your fruits and vegetables with edible flowers will increase the amount of food you are growing, and improve the soil conditions (requiring little or no work on your part).
Thank you for reading my article. I welcome any comments and feedback, I appreciate them all (good or bad).