Flowers have been eaten and used in recipes for centuries. The Romans, Chinese, middle eastern’s and even Indian cultures have been known to use flowers for culinary purposes.

There are some rules and dos and don’ts to eating flowers.
*Make sure before you eat a flower that you have identified it properly and that it is most definitely edible.

*Do not eat any flowers which have been sprayed with insecticides, unless it is an insecticide specifically designed for edible crops. Wash well before use. In general, always wash flowers gently before eating.

*Separate petals from flowers just prior to eating for most edible flowers. Also, remove pistils and stamens from flowers.

*If you are a natural allergy sufferer, be careful when eating flowers as they may aggravate some allergies.

*Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries and garden centres as they have more than likely been sprayed.

*Eat flowers sparingly as over consuming can cause an uncomfortable stomach etc.

Here is a basic list of some flowers which can be eaten and used in cooking

Calendula – The flavour has been described as spicy and peppery and has been likened to saffron. The yellow or orange of the flowers is used to tint soups, scrambled eggs and spreads. Petals are also used in pasta, rice and salads.

Marigolds – Have a similar flavour to Calendula’s and have a slightly citrus flavour.

Carnations & Dianthus – Carnations have sweet petals and are used for desserts and candies. Dianthus flowers have a clove or nutmeg like smell and taste. Common salad ingredient.

Day Lilies – The petals are sweet with a slight vegetable zucchini flavour. Used in salads and do decorate foods. Use in moderation.

Citrus blossoms – The highly scented waxy petals must be eaten sparingly but have a lovely citrusy flavour and are used commonly in the Middle East in pastries and beverages.

Gladiolus – Gladioli flowers have a slight lettuce flavour and can be used sweet or savoury spreads and mousses and the petals can be used in salads.
Viola flowers – These flowers have a mild wintergreen flavour and are used in salads, with cheeses, desserts and drinks.

Pansies – These flowers have a slightly sweet and grassy taste and are used as garnishes, in fruit salads, salads, desserts and in soups.

Roses – The petals taste like a combo of strawberries and green apples. Many culinary products are made with rose petals. Used a lot for desserts etc.

Scented geraniums – The flowers of each variety will correspond with the variety.

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Herbs with edible flowers

There are many herbs whose flowers are edible flowers. For example Alliums (leeks, chives, garlic chives, garlic), basil, borage, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon verbena, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. The flowers of herbs usually taste like the herb but have a milder flavour.

Vegetables with edible flowers

There are many vegetables which also have edible flowers. Some examples. Rocket & wild rocket, broccoli florets, mustard, pea blossoms (NOT SWEET PEAS AS THESE ARE POISONOUS), radishes and squash blossoms which are highly popular with chefs. Younger flowers usually have a better milder flavour.