Food fads come and go, but one is likely to stand the test of time: flowers you can eat are increasingly making their way onto menus. Though diners may be shocked at the idea of deep-fried daylilies, our ancestors often looked to the flower garden for seasonings and side dishes.
The most common ways to use flowers in cooking are to add them to salads, brew them in tea or to decorate desserts. However, because flowers have such a range of flavors, the only limit is your imagination: chop them up and roll them into savory pasta dough or sprinkle them over a sweet sorbet. You can dip them, dunk them and batter and fry them.
Peruse our guide for helpful information, recipes and essential tips for cooking with flowers.
1. Choose from this list of 96 flowers you can eat
Not all flowers can be eaten. So before you start foraging in the backyard for new foods, read this list of 96 flowers you can eat, which includes information about each plant’s flavor profile, scientific name, common uses and cautions.
Photo by: artesaniaflorae
Scientific Name: Allium spp.
Flavor: spicy onion
Color: pink, purple and white
Description: The allium family, which includes garlic, onions, leeks, chives and several decorative flowers, have been cultivated for decorative and food uses as far back as 1594. The decorative orbs can add a unique touch to a flowerbed and punch of spice to your dinner.
Photo by: Carol Foil
Scientific Name: Sambucus canadensis
Flavor: bland or bitter when raw, but sweet-tart and earthy when cooked
Color: white flowers, black berries
Description: The flat, white flowers of the American Elderberry can be used as the base for a batch of sparkling wine. Elderberry flowers are also popular as fritters or brewed with mint to make a delicious tea.
Photo by: Spark II
Scientific Name: Angelica archangelica
Flavor: juniper berries or celery
Color: pale lavender-blue to deep rose
Description: Angelica has been cultivated for food and medicine since the 10th century. While all parts of the plant can be eaten, it is often grown for its sweetly scented stems and roots. The long bright stems can be candied or used for flavoring liqueurs and other beverages.
Photo by: Kingsbrae Garden
Scientific Name: Agastache foeniculum
Flavor: strong anise, sweet, licorice
Color: lilac, lavender
Description: The soft green leaves can add a touch of flavor as a seasoning or in a salad. Anise hyssop can also be made into tea or potpourri.
Apple or crabapple
Photo by: Alfred Sin
Scientific Name: Malus spp.
Flavor: slightly floral to sour delicate floral flavor
Color: white to pink
Description: Because it is extremely sour, it is rare that crabapples are eaten raw. However, they can be made into a preserve that provides a spicy flavor, or added to ciders. Apple wood is preferred for cooking fires since it burns hot and slow without much flame.
Photo by: Stefano
Scientific Name: Jasminum sambac
Flavor: delicate sweet flavor
Description: Arabian jasmine flowers are typically harvested as buds since open flowers lose their fragrance more quickly. These attractive, sweetly fragrant flowers are commonly used to make jasmine tea. They may also be infused into simple syrup to serve as a base for sorbets and ice creams, or poured over fruit.
Photo by: Miran Rijavec
Scientific Name: Cynara scolymus
Description: The flower bud of an artichoke, prior to blooming, is often eaten boiled or steamed. Some prefer to only eat the heart of an artichoke where others also peel off each leaf, eating the fleshy base. Artichokes can also be made into herbal teas and liqueur.
Photo by: Manuel M. V.
Scientific Name: Eruca vesicaria sativa
Flavor: spicy nutty, spicy, peppery flavor
Color: white to yellow with dark purple streaks
Description: These strong, peppery, leafy greens can be eaten raw, mixed into salads with other greens, or atop a pizza. It is also used cooked, such as adding it into pasta, or cooking it into a sauce to be used as a condiment atop cold meats or fish.
Photo by: Angel Hernansaez
Scientific Name: Gypsophila spp.
Flavor: mild, slightly sweet flavor
Color: white or pink
Description: While baby’s breath is most commonly used to accent flower arrangements, it may also be eaten, used as herbal medicine, or added to soap and shampoo due to its detergent qualities. Species of Gypsophila are used add aroma and crispness to liqueur, cheese and ice cream.
Photo by: TexasEagle
Scientific Name: Centaurea cyanus
Flavor: peppery, clove-like
Color: white, pink, blue
Description: This vibrant flower may be eaten or used as an garnish. With the pistils and stamens removed, the peppery petals are added to salads, or cold or hot soup, providing a flavor that can be sweet to spicy. It can even work in desserts.
Photo by: Brent Miller
Scientific Name: Yucca baccata
Flavor: potato, squash
Color: white with purple shades
Description: The fleshy banana yucca fruit looks like a short, fat, green banana, which is how it got its name. It can be roasted or baked and eaten after removing the seeds, which can also be roasted. The flower petals may also be boiled or cooked into soup, but tend to be bitter if eaten raw.
Photo by: sclereid0309
Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
Flavor: herbal milder than leaves, spicy, lemon or mint
Color: white to pale pink, lavender
Description: Basil is commonly eaten fresh and raw, added at the last minute to cooked recipes since cooking basil can quickly deplete the flavor. The aromatic leaves add a unique, strong flavor to pizzas and salads, and it is also used as one of the main ingredients in pesto sauce.
Photo by: Jan De Graaf
Scientific Name: Phaseolus vulgaris
Flavor: savory, ranging from mild to strong, can be bitter
Color: green, yellow, black, purple
Description: Beans are high in protein and fiber, making them common in cooking around the world. There are several varieties, all of which are eaten cooked. They may be boiled, steamed or fried, and can be eaten alone or cooked into casseroles, soups and stews.
Photo by: Scott Smithson
Scientific Name: Monarda didyma
Flavor: minty, sweet, hot tea-like, more aromatic than leaves
Color: red, pink, white, lavender
Description: The flavor of the leaves and buds of bee balm is somewhat bitter, but tastes like a mix of spearmint and peppermint with oregano. Historically, it has been used medicinally by Native Americans to treat infections and minor wounds due to its antiseptic properties.
Photo by: TC Davis
Scientific Name: Robinia pseudoacacia
Flavor: sweet, pea-like
Description: In late spring, black locust trees produce white flower clusters that resemble pea blossoms. Though most parts of the tree are toxic, the flowers with their sweet, fresh pea flavor are eaten raw by themselves or added into salads.
Photo by: Ferran Turmo Gort
Scientific Name: Borago officinalis
Flavor: herbal cucumber
Color: blue, purple to lavender
Description: Borage is eaten as a fresh vegetable or dried herb. The cucumber-like flavor lends the vegetable to be added to salads or used as a garnish. The flower, which is one of the few food substances that is truly blue in color, is also eaten for it’s honey-like taste, or used to garnish desserts.
Photo by: Harry Rose
Scientific Name: Brassica spp.
Color: blue-green buds and yellow flowers
Description: Broccoli first made its way to the United States by Italian immigrants and did not become widely known until the 1920s. It is high in dietary fiber and is eaten both raw and cooked. The flower heads are most commonly eaten, but the thick stalks can also be eaten.
Photo by: Dluogs
Scientific Name: Poterium sanguisorba
Description: Burnet leaves have a light cucumber flavor and are used in salads, dressings and as a garnish. It has also been used as a tea to relieve diarrhea. Typically, the leaves are used when they are young because they become bitter as they age.
Photo by: Nuuuuuuuuuuul
Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
Flavor: slightly bitter tangy and peppery
Color: yellow, orange, gold
Description: The yellow petals can be added fresh to salads and has been traditionally used in soups and stews, explaining the “pot marigold” nickname. They have also been used as yellow dye to color cheese and dye fabrics. Calendula oil is used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Photo by: Douglas Sprott
Scientific Name: Dianthus caryophyllus
Flavor: spicy, peppery, clove-like
Color: bright pinkish-purple, red, white, yellow, green
Description: Carnations are perennial plants with sweetly scented flowers whose petals can be eaten or used to make tea. They are also the traditional first wedding anniversary flower.
Photo by: Bambo
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea
Flavor: sweet, almost nutty
Color: white buds
Description: This cruciferous vegetable is low in fat and high in fiber and antioxidants, making it a nutritious addition to any diet. Once the leaves and stalks are removed, cauliflower’s florets are eaten raw or cooked. It’s recommended not to overcook cauliflower as it can become mushy and lose its flavor.
Photo by: Virginia Sanderson
Scientific Name: Chamaemelum noblis
Flavor: sweet apple
Color: white petals with a yellow center
Description: Most commonly recognized in teas, chamomile is often used as an herb to invoke sleep. The flowers may be eaten alone or tossed into a salad. As an added benefit, they can help calm nerves and ease stomach problems.
Photo by: Charles Wohlers
Scientific Name: Anthriscus cerefolium
Flavor: herbal parsley-like, hint of citrus, tarragon, anise
Description: This delicate herb’s faint licorice or aniseed flavor is commonly used in cooking to season poultry, seafood, soups and sauces. The chervil flower can easily lose its flavor by drying or with too much heat, which is why it is added at the end of cooking, or used raw.
Photo by: Alain C.
Scientific Name: Cichorium intybus
Flavor: herbal mild-bitter similar to endive
Description: Nearly all parts of the chicory plant can be used. The blossoms and leaves of chicory can be added raw to salads and the roots can be made into a coffee substitute. Boiling the leaves is recommended to alleviate some of the bitterness.
Photo by: Kai Yan
Scientific Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Flavor: mild, tart, citrus
Color: usually red with orange tips, but numerous varieties are available in white, yeloow, orange and pink
Description: These bright flowers are used in salads in the Pacific Islands. They can be eaten raw or cooked to add a tropical flourish to any recipe.
Photo by: Christian RH
Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum
Flavor: onion, strong
Description: Chive flowers are a delicate, beautiful way to add an onion flavor to any dish. The blossoms may be added raw to a green salad, as a garnish, or mixed with a soft cheese. They are also eaten cooked into soups and cream-based sauces.
Photo by: Joe deSousa
Scientific Name: Dendranthema x grandiflorum
Flavor: varieties differ, strong to bitter, tangy
Color: red, yellow, pink, orange, purple, white
Description: All chrysanthemums can be eaten and their flavors range from tangy to peppery to bitter. Only the petals should be eaten, and they should be blanched prior to sprinkling over a salad or cooked into a stir-fry. The petals can also be made into tea or wine.
Photo by: Luis Parravicini
Scientific Name: Coriandrum sativum
Color: white, pale pink
Description: The wispy, white flowers of a cilantro plant should be eaten raw because the flavor quickly fades when they are cooked. They are added to salads, bean dishes or cold vegetable dishes. Prior to flowering, the leaves are favored for Latin and Asian cuisines.
Photo by: Mike Souza
Scientific Name: Citrus
Flavor: sweet, citrus
Description: Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly scented. They should only be used sparingly in dishes because their fragrance can be overpowering. Citrus flowers are often used in Mediterranean cooking, made into liqueur, tea and candied.
Photo by: Hiroyuki Takeda
Scientific Name: Trifolium spp.
Color: white, pink, red
Description: Clover blossoms are flavorful and sweet and high in protein. They may be eaten fresh or pan roasted or made into tea. They should be eaten when very fresh or completely dried because moldy or old blossoms can act as a blood thinner.
Photo by: Toshihiro Gamo
Scientific Name: Malva sylrestris
Flavor: mild, sweet, delicate flavor
Description: Common mallow leaves can be harvested like spinach and substituted for lettuce in salads. Fresh buds and flowers are also added to salads. The leaves can be stuffed and eaten raw or boiled as a vegetable side dish. Mallow has a sticky quality, making it a useful thickening agent in soups and gravies.
Photo by: Jose Maria Escolano
Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale
Flavor: sweet, honey-like bitter
Description: Best known as a pesky weed, dandelions can be eaten in their entirety and have many culinary uses. Dandelion flowers are sweet and crunchy and are eaten raw or cooked. They are added to salads, battered and fried, or even used to make dandelion wine.
Photo by: Jane Cantral
Scientific Name: Hemerocallis spp.
Flavor: vegetal, sweet mild asparagus or summer squash-like flavor
Color: wide range
Description: The common daylily is okay for humans but toxic to cats. Closed flower buds are a rich source of iron and are eaten raw in salads, boiled or stir-fried with other vegetables. The open blossoms add sweetness to soups and vegetable dishes, or they can be battered and fried, tempura-style.
Photo by: bathyporeia
Scientific Name: Dianthus spp.
Flavor: sweet clove flavor some varieties are spicier
Color: pink, white and red
Description: Most dianthus petals are spicy, floral and clove-like in flavor. They make colorful garnishes for salads, soups and cakes. Their petals also add a nice zest to ice cream, desserts, seafood and stir-fries, so long as the bitter base of the petal is removed.
Photo by: Sigfrid Lundberg
Scientific Name: Anethum graveolens
Flavor: herbal. flowers taste stronger than leaves.
Color: yellow and yellowish-green
Description: The flowers have a tangy, dill flavor that is stronger than the seeds and leaves. Dill flowers make a great garnish or addition to a pickling jar. They are also added to soups and stews, or chopped and added to dips and sauces.
Photo by: Graham King
Scientific Name: Bellis perennis
Flavor: mild to bitter tangy, leafy
Color: white to pink
Description: Due to its slightly bitter flavor, the English daisy tends to be used more commonly for its appearance than its flavor. It is used to garnish salads, soups and steamed vegetables. These flowers have been used traditionally in tea for medicinal purposes.
Photo by: Amanda Slater
Scientific Name: Sambucus nigra
Color: pink flowers with dark, nearly black foliage
Description: Though the greens and unripe berries of the European elderberry plant are poisonous, the ripe berries and flowers have many uses. Both the flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine. The flowers are used in drink infusions, syrup, liqueur, or battered and fried into fritters.
Photo by: Wandering Nome
Scientific Name: Foeniculum vulgare
Flavor: licorice, milder than leaves, sweet mildly anise
Color: yellow-green, pale yellow
Description: The seeds, bulb, and foliage of fennel are most commonly used, though the small flowers are the most potent form of fennel. Fennel’s spicy flavor is used with food, alcohol and for medicinal purposes. This unique plant aids digestion and reduces intestinal gas.
Photo by: SherryBerryVA
Scientific Name: Fuchsia X hybrida
Flavor: slightly acidic
Color: pink, purple, white
Description: Fuchsia berries and flowers can both be eaten raw and tend to be tangy and bitter. The berries are used in jams, jellies, pies and made into wine. The flowers are used in salads or as a garnish, with their fleshy sepals being milder and the petals and inside of the flower providing a more bitter taste.
Photo by: Stefano
Scientific Name: Gardenia jasminoides
Flavor: light, sweet, fragrant
Description: Gardenia flowers have a light, buttery, fragrant flavor that can be similar to that of jasmine. It is often used to make jasmine tea because the palate cannot easily distinguish a difference. The flowers are also pickled, preserved in honey or simply eaten raw.
Photo by: musimpanas
Scientific Name: Allium tuberosum
Flavor: onion, strong garlicky flavor
Description: Both the leaves and flower buds are eaten raw or cooked. The leaves have a mild flavor, similar to a cross between garlic and chives, which can be lessened with lengthy cooking. Flower buds may be added to stir-fries or used similarly to chives or garlic.
Photo by: duvalmickael50
Scientific Name: Pelargonium spp.
Description: The faint citrus flavor of geranium flowers lends to its use among sweets. Both the flowers and leaves are used in ice cream, sorbet, jams, cakes, salads and teas. The rose-scented geranium is most commonly used for food and making essential oils.
Photo by: Diamnond Geezer
Scientific Name: Gladiolus spp.
Flavor: similar to lettuce
Color: various except true blue
Description: The gladiolus flower blossom has a mild, lettuce-like flavor that makes a great addition to a salad or to be used as containers and stuffed with seafood, salsa, dips or cheeses. With the stamens removed, the petals may be eaten cooked or raw.
Photo by: Kathy
Scientific Name: Muscari atlanticum, M. botryoides,
Flavor: grapey, slightly sour, bitter aftertaste.
Color: pink, blue
Description: Both the bulb and flowers of grape hyacinth are eaten, though the bulb needs to be cooked first. The blossoms add a grapey, scented flavor when sprinkled over rhubarb or salads. It is also used to make wine.
Photo by: Manuel M. V.
Scientific Name: Alcea rosea
Flavor: bland slightly bitter, nondescript
Color: white, pink, red
Description: Hollyhock can be eaten in its entirety from the roots through the flowers. The leaves and flowers may be eaten raw or added to salads. When the root is soaked, the infusion has medicinal properties to treat sore throats and soothe stomachaches. Heat tends to destroy the medicinal value of hollyhock.
Photo by: Anne Heathen
Scientific Name: Hyssopus officinalis
Flavor: aromatic, sage, mint
Color: blue, pink,
Description: Both hyssop flowers and leaves can be eaten, dried or fresh. The flowers are used as a garnish or added to salads, and the leaves are added to salads, pastas and summer soups. Dried leaves are made into teas or infusions and essential oils from the plant can be used for flavoring.
Photo by: musimpanas
Scientific Name: Impatiens wallerana
Color: red, pink, white
Description: The petals of impatiens make a sweet, flavorful addition to desserts, salads or floating in cold drinks. Impatiens can grow easily in moist, shaded areas, but it is threatened after rain or fog by downy mildew, a disease that can kill the plant.
Photo by: Janet Tarbox
Scientific Name: Lonicera japonica
Color: white to pale yellow
Description: Japanese honeysuckle flowers are sucked for their sweet nectar, or made into syrups and puddings. The buds and flowers can be made into teas, and the plant is favored in Japanese culture for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves contain saponins and must be cooked and drained before eating.
Photo by: Jayul
Scientific Name: Viola tricolor
Color: purple and yellow
Description: Johnny-jump-ups are dainty flowers that resemble a small pansy and are easy to grow. The flowers contain antioxidants and are used on salads and desserts for their delicate wintergreen flavor. They can also be used to make yellow, green and blue-green dyes.
Photo by: epicnom
Scientific Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Flavor: sweet, perfumed flavor
Color: lavender, purple, pink, white
Description: The sweet perfume-like flavor of lavender is a popular addition to baked goods such as breads and cookies. It works well alone or paired with fruity flavors and cheeses, and can be used dried or fresh. Medicinally, lavender helps soothe insect bites, burns and headaches.
Photo by: Jesus Cabrera
Scientific Name: Citrus limon
Flavor: citrus, slightly bitter
Description: Lemon flowers have a pronounced citrusy flavor and should be used sparingly. They are used as a garnish or infused into citrus waters. They are also eaten in ice creams, jams or fried into fritters. The dried leaves are sometimes used to flavor teas.
Photo by: Christoph Zurnieden
Scientific Name: Melissa officinalis
Flavor: lemony, sweet
Color: creamy white
Description: Lemon balm is part of the mint family, yet it has a lemony flavor and aroma. The leaves can be used dried or fresh, raw or cooked, to add flavor to salads and cooked foods. They are also added to tea and alcoholic drinks. Lemon balm is used to treat cold sores and has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Photo by: Miguel Angel Garcia
Scientific Name: Syringa vulgaris
Flavor: perfume, slightly bitter, lemony
Color: white, pink, purple, lilac
Description: Lilacs make a beautiful garnish for desserts and sprinkled in salads. They are very fragrant and floral, with a distinct lemony, slightly bitter taste. Use sparingly because they can be very pungent and floral. Lilac is used in aromatherapy for calming and to ease anxiety.
Photo by: Dinesh Valke
Scientific Name: Tilia spp.
Color: white to yellow
Description: Linden flowers are traditionally used to make tea that has a calming and soothing effect. It contains antioxidants and is used medicinally to aid colds, coughs and headaches. Linden flowers may be infused into syrups, wine, or added to water when steaming vegetables.
Photo by: loar karla
Scientific Name: Levisticum officinale
Flavor: mild celery
Color: yellow, white
Description: The roots, stems, leaves, and flowers of lovage can all be eaten. It is similar to celery in both flavor and smell. Young leaves are added to salads and older leaves are added to soups and stews. It is also made into tea to stimulate digestion. The hollow stems can be dried and used as drinking straws.
Photo by: Ivo Angelov
Scientific Name: Tagetes patula
Flavor: bitter, citrusy
Color: yellow, orange
Description: The yellow petals of marigolds are eaten in food, drinks, or used for yellow food coloring and dyes. They are also dried and ground into a spice that is highly compatible with cinnamon and cloves. The spice provides a unique and earthy flavor commonly used in Georgian cuisine.
Photo by: J.P.C.
Scientific Name: Origanum majorana
Flavor: spicy, sweet
Color: pale pink
Description: Marjoram makes a sweet addition to pasta sauces and chicken and seafood dishes. It tends to be strong and should be used sparingly. The flower is used similarly to the herb and can be drunk in hot tea. It has many medicinal properties and is used for headaches, insomnia and indigestion.
Photo by: Ettore Balocchi
Scientific Name: Mentha spp.
Flavor: minty; milder than leaves
Color: lavender, pink to white
Description: With a light, minty flavor, mint flowers are both decorative and tasty. They are added to lemonade, fruit salad, green salads, curries or to garnish chocolate treats. Mint is very high in antioxidants and may help aid indigestion and the common cold.
Photo by: Docent Joyce
Scientific Name: Brassica spp.
Flavor: mustard, hot
Description: Mustard is known for its seeds, but the greens and flowers can be eaten as well. The flower buds can be eaten boiled and bloomed flowers can be used to make a gourmet mustard spread. Leaves are eaten as raw greens, but cooking may be preferred since the leaves have a hairy texture.
Photo by: M
Scientific Name: Tropaeolum majus
Flavor: watercress, peppery spicy, peppery
Description: These easy-to-grow flowers are spicy and bittersweet with a taste similar to watercress. When added to salads, the leaves should be tossed with sweeter greens to balance their bitter taste. Flower petals can be added indo sandwich fillings and salads.
Photo by: Kai Yan
Scientific Name: Abelmoschus esculentus
Flavor: mild, sweet and slightly mucilaginous
Color: yellow, red
Description: Okra is a low-maintenance plant of he hibiscus family is easy to grow. It is commonly cultivated for its fibrous seedpods, but the flowers can be eaten too. Okra flowers have a mild taste, but add color and texture to any salad. When cooked, they have a nutty taste similar to asparagus.
Photo by: Kai Yan
Scientific Name: Citrus sinensis
Flavor: citrus, sweet/strong
Description: Orange blossoms have been used for centuries to treat anxiety and insomnia. Their sweet, citrusy flavor works well cooked into desserts, added raw to salads, or infused into water. Blossoms are also used as a garnish, and are cultivated for their essential oils, aromatherapy and perfumes.
Photo by: Stelios Zacharias
Scientific Name: Origanum spp.
Flavor: spicy, pungent-like leaves
Description: Sometimes called wild marjoram, oregano is closely related to marjoram. Its flowers have a flavor similar to, but milder than its leaves and are typically added to savory dishes. They are used for both flavor and decoration and can be added to butter, vegetable dishes and pizzas.
Photo by: Superior National Forest
Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
Color: white/yellow center
Description: This common daisy is native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia, typically cultivated as an ornamental plant. Its flower petals are great in salads and can be used fresh or dried into a calming tea. The flower buds can be marinated or pickled, similar to capers.
Photo by: Kai Yan
Scientific Name: Viola X wittrockiana
Flavor: slightly sweet green or grassy flavor; petals have a mild flavor; whole flower has a wintergreen flavor very mild sweet to tart flavor, stronger than violets
Color: violet, white, pink, yellow, multi-colored
Description: In the early 1800s, pansies were produced by crossing varieties of violas. This hardy plant is easy to grow and has a mild, wintergreen flavor. They are eaten candied or added to desserts and make a particularly attractive garnish in cocktails, soups, desserts and frozen into ice cubes.
Photo by: TexasEagle
Scientific Name: Passiflora spp.
Description: Passion flowers are a genus of about 500 species of tropical, flowering vines and shrubs. They are cultivated for their fruit and have a history of medical uses including tea made out of the leaves for insomnia. The flowers are used as a garnish and have a vegetable flavor.
Photo by: Pilar Torres
Scientific Name: Pisum sativum
Flavor: raw peas
Color: white, tinged pink
Description: Vegetable pea flowers are crunchy, slightly sweet and taste like young peas. They are eaten raw or cooked, added to salads, or candied and added to desserts. The shoots and vine tendrils can be eaten as well. These should not be confused with sweet pea flowers, which are toxic.
Photo by: Kai Yan
Scientific Name: Petunia hybrida
Flavor: mild, sweet and spicy
Description: Petunias are one of the most popular garden plants and are native to the tropical and sub-tropical areas of South America. Not all petunias flowers can be eaten, but the petunia x hybrida can be used as a garnish or added to salads. It has a mild, floral flavor.
Photo by: TommyHaga
Scientific Name: Feijoa sellowiana
Flavor: sweet, fruity, hint of cinnamon
Color: white to deep pink
Description: Native to South America, the pineapple guava is cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree. Its flowers have a sweet, tangy flavor with hints of cinnamon. The fruity flower petals can be eaten alone, candied, added to salads or made into jelly.
Photo by: Eric Hunt
Scientific Name: Salvia elegans
Flavor: sweet, fruity pineapple/sage overtones
Color: red, scarlet
Description: The flavor of pineapple sage leaves and flowers is fruity with hints of pineapple. It has sage-like elements, but tastes very different from garden sage. The leaves and flowers are added to salads and provide a fruity flavor to smoothies, breads, salsas, jelly and tea. Pineapple sage is used extensively in Mexican traditional medicine for anxiety and blood pressure.
Photo by: Luis M.
Scientific Name: Prunus spp.
Flavor: mild, like flower nectar
Color: pink to white
Description: Plums may be one of the first fruits domesticated by humans and are enjoyed dried, fresh, cooked and in wine. Plum blossoms taste like sweet nectar when fresh and newly opened. Only the petals should be eaten and they can be added to salads or to flavor ice creams and sorbets. They should be eaten sparingly because they can cause stomach upset.
Photo by: Emi
Scientific Name: Primula vulgaris
Flavor: mild to bitter, lettuce-like
Description: The sweet, lemon-scented flowers of primrose range from mild to bitter in flavor and taste like lettuce or greens. They are eaten raw or cooked, added to salads, infused into oil or used to make primrose wine. Some parts of the plant may cause throat irritation when eaten, even if they have been cooked.
Photo by: Franco Folini
Scientific Name: Raphanus sativus
Color: white, pink, yellow
Description: Known for its tasty root, the delicate radish flower can also be eaten and tastes like a milder version of the spicy root. It is added to salads or atop cooked vegetables to add a little spice. Radishes make a useful companion plant for other crops because their odor helps to deter insect pests.
Photo by: Dean Morley
Scientific Name: Trifolium pratense
Flavor: hay, sweet
Color: pink, lilac, red
Description: Red clover flower blossoms add a light, sweet flavor to herbal teas. It is abundant with medicinal properties, such as aiding skin conditions. They are eaten alone, tossed into salads and brewed into hot tea. Use caution because eating too many may cause bloating.
Photo by: Dogtooth77
Scientific Name: Cercis canadensis
Flavor: beanlike to tart apple mildly sweet
Description: The Eastern redbud is native to Eastern North America and is grown in parks and gardens. The flowers and buds have a slightly sour taste and are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. They may be added to salads or used as a condiment. The buds are pickled or used as a substitute for capers.
Photo by: Ching
Scientific Name: Rosa spp.
Flavor: highly perfumed; sweet to bitter
Color: white, pink, yellow, red, orange
Description: All roses can be eaten, but the bitter white portion of the petals should be removed before consuming. The flavor of rose petals varies, but can be reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. The sweet petals are used to flavor syrups, jellies and sweet spreads. They are also used as a garnish for desserts or frozen into ice cubes.
Photo by: J. Michael Raby
Scientific Name: Hibiscus syriacus
Flavor: mild, nutty
Color: red, white, purple, violet
Description: South Korea’s national flower, rose of Sharon is common in southern United States. Its flowers are eaten for their nutty flavor and are added to salads and brewed for antioxidant tea. The flower buds contain mucilage, a gooey compound with medicinal uses such as healing burns, wounds, inflammation and irritation.
Photo by: billy1125
Scientific Name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
Flavor: tart, cranberry-like
Color: white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal
Description: Most commonly used for herbal tea, roselle is enjoyed for it’s tart flavor and potential health benefits. Many Americans know it as Red Zinger, since it was first popularized in the States by Celestial Seasonings. In Nigeria and Myanmar, the buds are boiled with sugar to create a tangy jam.
Photo by: Erik Forsberg
Scientific Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Flavor: mild rosemary herbal
Color: pale blue, dark blue, pink, white
Description: Rosemary flowers are just as tasty as the leaves, but slightly sweet. The petals can be sprinkled on savory salads and grilled meats. Its evergreen, needle-like leaves are a common spice in cooking to flavor foods like stuffing, pork, chicken, turkey and breads. The plant is believed to improve memory.
Photo by: Christina B. Castro
Scientific Name: Carthamus tinctorius
Flavor: bitter flavor
Color: yellow to deep red
Description: Safflower flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron. It is also one of the ingredients in some flavors of the carbonated soda, Sunkist. The yellow and red flowers are used for making dyes for both foods and textiles. Safflower oil is favored in cooking for its high smoke point.
Photo by: See Like Click
Scientific Name: Salvia officinalis
Flavor: flowery sage, slightly musky
Color: purple, blue, white, pink
Description: The usage of sage dates back to ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites and more. Today, it is an essential culinary herb. The flowers have a subtler sage flavor with a hint of heat and work well with salads, turkey, chicken and savory dishes.
Scarlet runner bean
Photo by: Jane Nearing
Scientific Name: Phaseolus coccineus
Flavor: raw bean but milder
Color: bright orange to scarlet
Description: The most popular bean in Britain, scarlet runner beans contain climbing vines and beautiful red flowers that are preferred by hummingbirds. Though the flowers can be eaten, they are often ignored, as the plant is cultivated for its seedpods. The whole pods are eaten raw when they are young, and the seeds can be eaten raw or as dried beans.
Photo by: Beautiful Cataya
Scientific Name: Tagetes signata
Flavor: spicy, herbal citrus
Color: white, gold, yellow, red
Description: Signet marigold flowers add a bright color and spicy tang to tossed salads. Though the foliage has a light lemon fragrance, the flowers have a spicy, sometimes bland tarragon flavor. They are added to steamed vegetables, boiled eggs and fish dishes.
Photo by: Jayesh Patil
Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus
Flavor: bland to bitter flavor
Color: wide range
Description: This beautiful and playful flower is named for its resemblance to a fictional dragon’s face that opens and closes when squeezed. The flowers have a bland to bitter flavor and are not a preferred flower for eating, but they contain vitamin C and are believed to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Photo by: dbkfrong
Scientific Name: Tulbaghia violacea
Flavor: onion flavor a very mild garlic flavor
Description: With a sweet, peppery, onion-like flavor, the flowers of society garlic are added to salads and other foods for color and flavor. The leaves are peppery and used like garlic. Society garlic is said to deter moles and snakes from other vegetables in the garden.
Photo by: Jen2d2
Scientific Name: Curcubita pepo
Flavor: vegetal mild, raw squash flavor
Color: yellow to orange
Description: With the gentle flavor of raw squash or zucchini, squash blossoms make a great addition to a variety of meals. With the pistil removed and stems trimmed, the blossoms are eaten raw or stuffed. They can be added atop pizzas, soups and salads and into tacos.
Photo by: TexasEagle
Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
Flavor: leafy, slightly bitter; unopened buds taste like a mild artichoke, flower petals are bittersweet.
Color: white, yellow, orange, burgandy
Description: Sunflower buds can be blanched or steamed like artichokes, to which they are related and have a similar flavor. The bloomed flower petals are added to salad or pasta for a bittersweet, nutty taste. Be mindful of where sunflowers are planted because they take up toxins from the soil, and were in fact used to clean the ground after the Chernobyl accident.
Photo by: Anne Tanne
Scientific Name: Galium odoratum
Flavor: sweet, grassy, nutty, vanilla
Description: Sweet woodruff is a sweetly scented flowering plant native to much of Europe and various parts of the United States. The flowers, also known as wild baby’s breath, have a sweet, vanilla-like flavor. They are used as a vanilla substitute in sauces and beverages, jams, ice cream and potpourri. Consuming large quantities can cause a blood-thinning effect.
Photo by: Mathesont
Scientific Name: Thymus vulgaris
Flavor: herbal, milder than leaves
Color: pink, purple, white
Description: The use of thyme dates back to ancient history where Egyptians used it for embalming. Today, the herb is common in culinary use. The flowers, with a milder flavor similar to the leaf can be used much in the same way as the herb. They are added to soups and incorporated into cheeses and flavored butters.
Photo by: Andreas Balzer
Scientific Name: Begonia x tuberhybrida
Flavor: citrus crisp, sour, lemony
Color: white, pink, yellow, red, orange
Description: Hybrid, tuberous begonias are the only type that are safe to eat. Their petals are crisp with a citrus-sour taste that can be added to salads, sandwiches or used as a garnish. The petals should be eaten in moderation as they contain oxalic acid, and should not be consumed by those suffering from gout, kidney stones or rheumatism.
Photo by: TjuTIK
Scientific Name: Tulipa spp.
Flavor: vegetal mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Color: wide range of colors
Description: Though tulip bulbs may cause illness if not properly prepared, the petals are quite tasty. They are eaten raw or cooked, but loose much of their color when cooked. Pink, peach and white blossoms have the sweetest flavor and are used to garnish salads or hold appetizers or dips.
Photo by: bathyporeia
Scientific Name: Viola odorata
Flavor: sweet, perfumed
Color: violet, pink, white
Description: Violet flowers have a flavor that ranges from sweet and fragrant to mild greens. They are added to salads, jelly, candied or fermented into sweet wine. The perfumed varieties are best for sweet teas, beverages and desserts, whereas the pea-flavored varieties are better in savory foods.
Photo by: Sarah Gregg
Scientific Name: Satureja montana
Flavor: mildly peppery, spicy
Color: pale blue to purple
Description: The somewhat bitter winter savory has a strong flavor when raw, but adds richness to foods when cooked with meats such as chicken, fish and pork. It is recommended to add to bean dishes. The easy-to-grow plant’s antiseptic and digestive benefits are greater than those of summer savory.
Photo by: Tanakawho
Scientific Name: Wisteria spp.
Flavor: fragrant, almost sweet
Color: white or lavender
Description: Aside from the flowers, the rest of the wisteria plant is toxic, especially the seeds. It is important to remove the stems before eating the blossoms raw or cooked. The light, crunchy flowers are used to make wine, preserves, honey or fried into fritters.
Photo by: Scott1346
Scientific Name: Yucca filamentosa
Flavor: hint of artichoke, slightly bitter
Color: creamy white with purple tinge
Description: The flower petals of the yucca plant are best eaten cooked because they can cause throat irritation when eaten raw. They are slightly crunchy with a taste similar to green beans or the inner leaves of an artichoke. Yucca petals work well with egg dishes and tomato-based soups.
Photo by: pontlas
Scientific Name: Zinnia spp.
Flavor: slightly bitter, mostly mild
Color: white, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, purple, and lilac
Description: Zinnia is a genus of about 20 species of plants native from Southwestern United States to South America. Though the entire zinnia flower can be eaten, it is recommended to only eat the petals. The flavor is somewhat bitter, and is added to salads, pastas or brewed into tea.
2. Read these tips for using flowers in the kitchen
Here are some important tips for picking, storing and preparing flowers in food. Tap the text to access additional details.
Know what you’re eating and where it comes from. Only eat organically grown flowers that have not been exposed to chemical sprays or pesticides. When possible, the best course of action is to eat flowers from your own garden. If you’re not positive, err on the side of caution.
Regardless of their provenance, always rinse the flowers extra well and be on the lookout for stray dirt or bugs that may have been hiding under the leaves. A quick ice bath can also help revive flowers that are starting to droop. Just be sure to drain and dry them before use.
This will get rid of unwanted pollen, which detracts from the flower’s natural flavor. If you suffer from allergies, be extra cautious as some flowers may exacerbate your symptoms.
Flowers are freshest when consumed within a few hours of harvesting. When you can’t eat them right away, place flowers on moist paper towels and store them in the refrigerator until ready for use. Most petals will keep for up to a day in an airtight container; some flowers may keep for up to 10 days. Of course, you can also store cut flowers in a vase of water.
Treat flowers like any other ingredient. Smell them or take a nibble before adding them to your dish. Just like herbs, flowers have a variety of flavors and intensities.
When introducing flowers to your diet, start with a small amount of a single flower at a time. Some flowers, even those that are digestible, can aggravate allergies or cause digestive distress in large amounts.
3. Start cooking with these delicious flower recipes
Ready to start adding flowers to your cooking? Sweet or savory, flowers can be used just like herbs to bring extra flavor to your favorite dishes. Experiment with flavor infusions in vinegar or oil, creative garnishes for floral cocktails and tea or dried uses like flavored sugars and salts.
People have been eating flowers for centuries and every culture has at least a few top recipes. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to whet your appetite for floral foods:
Cheese and Flower Tartine
source: Sarah Raven
Flower Ice Pops
source: My Whole Foods Romance
source: The Novice Gardener
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
source: Ask Chef Dennis
Zucchini Flower Fritters
source: Belly Rumbles
Chive Flower Tempura
source: Mummy, I Can Cook
Tomato Nasturtium Salad
source: Simple Bites
Lilac Scones with Rhubarb Curd
source: Kitchen Vignettes
Cucumber Marigold Pickle
source: The Paleo Network
source: Sarah Melamed
Rosemary Flower Butter
source: Lavender and Lovage
Spinach Salad with Violets
source: Healthy Green Kitchen
Flowers can bring rich color, nuanced flavor and elegance to any dish. Packed with phyto-nutrients, they are also an easy way to boost nutrition.
Have you ever eaten flowers? Are there some flowers that taste better than others? Let us know in the comments and tell us about your favorite flower recipe.