Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking

Growing Edible Flowers in Your Garden (page 3 of 3)

by Charlie Nardozzi

A Few Tasty Tree and Shrub Flowers

Yes, even trees and shrubs produce edible flowers. Here are a few of the best.

  • Apple (Malus) has white to pink colored flowers with a floral to slightly sour taste.
  • Elderberry (Sambucus) has white, sweet tasting flowers.
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) has orange, red or purplish red colored flowers with cranberry and citrus overtones that’s slightly acidic.
  • Linden (Tilia) has white to yellow colored flowers with a honey-like flavor.
  • Lilac (Syringa) has fragrant white, pink, purple or lilac colored flowers with a slightly bitter, lemony flavor.
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera) features white, yellow, pink or red honey flavored flowers.
  • Plum (Prunus) pink to white colored flowers with a mild flavor like flower nectar.
  • Rose (Rosa) has white, pink, yellow, red or orange with a highly perfumed, sweet to bitter flavor.

Some Flowers to Avoid

While eating flowers is fun and flavorful, be careful. There are a number of poisonous plants containing substances that can cause symptoms such as upset stomachs, rashes and headaches. And even edible flowers should be eaten in moderation. You can have too much of a good thing.

Some common landscape and flowering plants that you should avoid eating the blooms include: clematis, hydrangea, sweet peas, azalea, daffodils, daphne, lily-of-the-valley, fox-glove, bleeding hearts, rhododendron, wisteria, oleander, lupine, hyacinth, four-o'clock, calla lily and castor bean. This is by no means an exhaustive list of non-edible flowers and you should thoroughly research any flower before munching away.

How to Gather Edible Flowers

Like any fruit or vegetable, when and how you harvest can influence the quality of the food. Harvesting should occur early or late in the day, when the blossoms are coolest. Sugars and volatile oils -- the basis for aroma and flavor -- are highest before heat and photosynthesis converts them into starch.

Flowers should be picked and placed in a shaded basket without crushing. Most blossoms should be harvested at or near opening. Cull blemished blossoms. Gently clean off any dirt or bugs and store clean blossoms in a hard container in the refrigerator to prevent crushing.

Before using, gently wash the flowers and remove the stamens and styles (insides of the flower) before eating. Flower pollen can detract from the flavor and some people are allergic to it.

Not all parts of all flowers are edible. While flowers such as violas, violets, scarlet runner beans, honeysuckle, and clover are entirely edible, for some flowers, such as rose, calendula, tulip, chrysanthemum, yucca, and lavender, only the petals are edible. Pluck the petals of these flowers for use in salads and cooking. For most flowers, except violas and pansies, the sepals (parts below the petals) are not tasty and should be removed before eating. Some flowers such as roses, dianthus, English daisies, signet marigolds, and chrysanthemums have a bitter white portion at the base of the petals where it was attached to the flower that should be removed.

With a little effort, you can harvest beautiful, delicious flowers as you pick other herbs and vegetables to dazzle your friends and family at dinner time.

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