When we think of growing our own food, many of us don’t think about adding flowers. There are hundreds of varieties of edible flowers that have been used medicinally and in the culinary world for centuries.
While not all flowers are edible or even tasty, many are incredibly popular in different cultures for their flavour and health benefits.
Don’t be too quick to brush off the idea of eating flower petals or using their leaves in everyday meals. These are 15 of our favourite types of edible blooms and how they can be incorporated into meals and drinks.
A few quick things you need to know about edible blooms:
- Only buy and use flowers that are meant for consumption.
- Only use the parts of the flower or plant that are edible.
- Do not consume plants or flowers that have been in contact with pesticide or chemical sprays.
- Start with small doses to better understand the flavour profile and ensure you do not have a reaction.
- Avoid eating flowers if you have allergies or hayfever.
- If you are unsure if a flower or plant is safe to eat, or cannot identify the plant, do not consume.
Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and should not replace the advice of a horticultural or medical professional. Neither Localsearch, nor the author, are in any way responsible for any misuse of the information provided.
Feature Photo by Augustine Fou on Unsplash
15 Edible Flowers & Their Benefits
Every part of the borage plant, except for its roots, is considered edible and can be used in a variety of culinary and medical applications. Borage is classified as a herb, and can be recognised by its long scalloped leaves with purple flowers, which bloom in the colder months.
Properties and benefits of borage:
- Attracts bees for pollination.
- Loved by butterflies.
- Seeds are a source of linolenic acid, which is beneficial for your skin.
Ways to use borage:
- Add a few of the cucumber-flavoured borage leaves to tea or water for a tasty treat.
- Sprinkle some leaves over a salad or as a garnish for a fresh burst of flavour.
Note: Use when fresh as the leaves lose potency when dried.
The many varieties of Marigolds have been consumed and used medicinally since the days of the Aztecs, and are still a popular choice today as an edible bloom. As the flowers bloom almost all year round, the mild citrus taste can be added to almost any seasonal dish.
Properties and benefits of marigold:
- Thought to assist with wound healing, joint pain and skin conditions, such as eczema, dry skin and dermatitis.
Ways to use marigold:
- Toss marigold leaves through salads for that nice bitter note.
- Decorate foods, such as rice, with the flowers to add colour, but not too much flavour.
- Known to be used in some ointments or compresses for medicinal benefits
- Dry the flower petals and steep in hot water to create an aromatic tea.
- Freeze the flowers in ice cubes for a beautiful addition to cold drinks.
With long purple flowers and a strong fragrance, lavender is a popular flavour for baked goods such as macarons and biscuits. However, whenever you use this edible flower, ensure you’re using the culinary variety as there are many kids with varying uses.
Properties and benefits of lavender:
- Lavender is thought to relieve stress and anxiety.
- It’s also said to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Ways to use lavender:
- Ground dried lavender into spice mixes or sugar to flavour sweet and savoury dishes. Herb de Provence is a popular spice mix with lavender that pairs deliciously with lamb or chicken.
- Infuse in oil, simple syrup or liquids such as milk or cream, which can be used to gently flavour sweet and savoury meals.
- Candy the blooms to use as garnishes for desserts.
- Infuse into a calming cup of tea.
The leaves and flowers of the bergamot orange plant are popular to consume or use in fragrances for its citrus flavour and scent. Also known as the bee balm, this plant blooms large pink, purple or red flowers.
Properties and benefits of bergamot:
- Attracts bees for pollination.
- Thought to reduce anxiety.
- Bergamot oil derived from the plant is often used as a topical treatment for acne.
Ways to use bergamot:
- Steep bergamot leaves in a tea or cold drinks to add a citrus infusion.
- Add the flowers as a garnish or to salads for a pop of colour.
Anise hyssop is a popular perennial herb used as both a medicinal plant and as an edible bloom. Both the leaves and blossom of this herb are edible and, much like the name suggests, has a strong aroma and taste of aniseed or licorice.
Properties and benefits of anise hyssop:
- Thought to be able to treat cold-related symptoms.
- Relieves congestion.
- Relieves bloating.
- When used topically, it’s said to assist with burns and sunburn, normally ground down into a poultice.
Ways to use anise hyssop:
- Steep the leaves in boiling water for a soothing cup of tea.
- Crush the leaves and flowers to use in desserts for a licorice flavour.
Many consider dandelion to be a weed. However, the plant is considered highly nutritious and used for many medicinal benefits. Everything from the root to the bright yellow flower petals is considered edible.
Properties and benefits of dandelions:
- Contains vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
- Contains antioxidants.
Ways to use dandelions:
- Dandelions can be eaten raw, or cooked and added to savoury dishes such as stir frys or salads. The taste is slightly bitter, so can replace arugula or other bitter greens.
- Roasting and grinding the dandelion roots can be used to make a coffee.
- The leaves are mainly decorative and have minimal flavour, however it is recommended to remove the green stem as it is considerably bitter.
With gorgeous pink flowers and a light floral taste, it’s no wonder that the hibiscus is a popular edible bloom in Australia. If you’ve even so much as watched an Australian cooking show, you’ve probably seen hibiscus flowers being used as a garnish or in a dish.
Properties and benefits of hibiscus:
- Vitamin C.
Ways to use hibiscus:
- Dust the flowers in icing sugar or candy them as decoration for desserts and drinks.
- Infuse the flowers in tea or syrup to use in baking or drinks, such as lemonade or cocktails.
And here you thought echinacea was just a vitamin you bought in the store. It’s no surprise as the roots, leaves and pink petals of this edible plant are commonly used in health supplements. Other uses include mixing the strong floral-flavoured and scented plant with other herbs, such as mint, to add to teas.
Properties and benefits of echinacea:
- Often used to combat cold symptoms and support immune systems.
- Thought to reduce anxiety and stress.
Ways to use echinacea.
- Commonly consumed in tea with other herbs.
If you’re looking for a low maintenance, edible plant to grow in your garden, the nasturtium is ideal. The entire plant is edible, including the bright yellow, orange and red blooms, and provide a peppery taste.
Properties and benefits of nasturtium:
- A source of vitamin C.
- When planted with some vegetables and roses as a companion plant, it can protect the main plants from pests.
Ways to use nasturtium:
- Combine the leaves and flowers to add to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
- Add as a flavour to spreads or cream cheese.
- Use the leaves in place of wraps for a light lunch.
- The seeds can be eaten as a snack, used to flavour oils, pickle brine or be ground and added to spice mixtures.
With multiple rows of large, gorgeous petals, the dahlia is another popular edible bloom that has purported medicinal benefits. However, while the flowers come in a variety of bright colours, such as red, pink and blue, only the actual petals and the bulb should be consumed.
Properties and benefits of dahlia:
- Dahlias contain inulin in their bulb, which is thought to help with absorbing calcium.
- The bulb and petals have traditionally been used topically to help treat bug bites.
Ways to use dahlia:
- As the dahlia flower is gorgeous, but bland, it’s commonly used to add crunch to dishes, such as salads.
As one of the most popular edible flowers, you can probably find tea in your cupboard containing chamomile. This dainty white flower is used for many herbal remedies and is beautiful as a garnish.
Those with hayfever or pollen allergies should avoid consuming this bloom, as it can trigger allergies. What does chamomile taste like? It’s often said the petals and bulb taste a little like an apple, but the leaves are a bit bitter.
Properties and benefits of chamomile:
- Chamomile has traditionally been used to treat cramps, reduce inflammation, help with relaxation and to treat symptoms of the common cold.
Ways to use chamomile:
- Making tea from the petals is the most common use of chamomile.
- Infuse chamomile in alcohol for a flavoured liqueur.
- Infuse into oils or simple syrups to be used in cooking and baking.
- The flowers create a beautiful, delicate garnish for sweet and savoury dishes.
Over the last few decades, the evening primrose plant has mainly been used for its health benefits. More specifically, the plant is typically infused into oil and taken as a capsule, but the entire plant, including its bright yellow flower, is edible with a sweet flavour.
Properties and benefits of evening primrose:
- High in fatty acids, which are essential for our cells.
- Contains calcium and vitamins, such as B3.
- A source of Linoleic acid.
- The seeds contain amino acid tryptophan, which our bodies can turn into serotonin.
- Thought to be beneficial to treating cramps and PMS symptoms.
Ways to use evening primrose:
- Infuse into oil for a great alternative to cooking meats, vegetables or drizzling over salad.
- The leaves and roots can be eaten raw or roasted, so evening primrose is a great addition to stir frys, roast dinners or sandwiches.
Cardamom is a popular spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. However, it’s commonly believed only the seeds can be used in cooking. The plant itself grows white trumpet-shaped flowers, which provide a delicate aroma and flavour.
Properties and benefits of cardamom:
- Cardamom seeds are thought to contain antioxidants and are antimicrobial.
- Traditionally used to help cure bad breath.
Ways to use cardamom:
- Most commonly used are the seeds for a strong flavouring in dishes and desserts.
- The flowers can be infused in oil, but are most commonly used as a garnish.
Pumpkin & Zucchini Flowers
Many people overlook, or are not aware of, the flowers which grow from fruit and vegetables, such as zucchinis and pumpkins.
Both the zucchini and pumpkin grow a large yellow or orange-hued tubular flower, which is commonly used in cooking. Due to their almost identical shape, the zucchini and pumpkin flowers are both used in similar culinary ways. The seeds from pumpkins are also edible and a delicious snack.
Properties and benefits:
- Source of vitamin A and C.
- Low calorie.
Ways to use the flowers:
- Zucchini and pumpkin flowers are commonly stuffed with a cheese, meat or vegetable mixture, and is then battered and fried. They can also be used as a wrap for sandwich fillings.
- Zucchini and pumpkin flowers are great additions to curries and stir frys.
- Can be shredded and added to fritters, salads, rice (both steamed and fried) for a crunchy texture.
- Seeds can be added as a crunchy element to many sweet and savoury dishes or eaten as a snack.
As a completely edible plant, the Daylily is not just a beautiful addition to a garden, but also used in traditional herbal medicine. It is recommended to cook the stem as it is thought to cause gastrointestinal distress when too much is consumed raw. The Daylily flower only blooms for one day and is toxic to animals, so do not allow your furry friend to consume it.
Properties and benefits of Daylily:
- The Daylily is thought to help reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
- Promotes bowel health.
- Considered to help reduce fever.
Ways to use Daylily:
- The crunchy stems and shoots can be used similar to celery. Use with dips or as a base in dishes such as soups.
- Flowers can be used fresh as a garnish, or dried and used in teas or added to spice mixtures.