Edible flowers, Pansies.

Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 17:43:55 -0400
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Pat Peck <arpeck.FREENET.SCRI.FSU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Nasturtiums

I have nastursiums growing now. Don't think its to late, but you may have trouble finding plants in the Nursery. You might also try pansies. They're pretty and taste great.

From: Pat Peck <arpeck.FREENET.SCRI.FSU.EDU>

> You wrote about tasting pansies--can you really?! Do you add them to a salad like nasturtiums?

Yes Anna you can eat pansies. Just put them in salad. Don't know how to describe taste. Also freeze them in ice cube trays and put in drinks. Only be sure to fill ice cube tray half full. Deposit pansy and then after slightly frozen, add more water to top. That way pansy is in middle of cube.

There are a number of edible flowers. Certain type of marigold. Not triple kind. Maybe someone knows. Also use Johnny Jump Ups (think that's what they're called). Growing up in South Florida. Ate hibiscus all the time. Don't know what kind they were. Just picked them and ate them. My family is a little gun shy over greens I fix.
Always checking to see what's in them.

From: Lynette Scribner <lscrib.GORGE.NET>

>Certain type of marigold. Not triple kind. Maybe someone knows.

The lemon gem marigold is edible and a beautiful plant as well. Little 1 foot mounded bushes covered with zillions of little yellow flowers which bloom all summer long. Smells sort of like a citrusy marigold. I got mine through Shepherd's and plan to plant a lot more of them this year!

From: "Mary E. Hall" <IOMA2.AOL.COM>

> Yes Anna you can eat pansies... //snip//... There are a number of edible flowers.

But if you're new to this, PLEASE be sure to eat only flowers you KNOW have had no pesticides or fungicides sprayed on them! That means you can't safely eat pansies from the flat you just bought at a nursery UNLESS you patronize an organic-only nursery. It also means that roses from a florist are NOT edible.

From: "Mary E. Hall" <IOMA2.AOL.COM>

Lisa asks, "What all CAN you eat -flower-wise??" Well, there's lots. I haven't seen a comprehensive list on Herbs List, so I brainstormed a good dozen or so, then started flipping through books out of curiosity. This is not all-inclusive, but it looks pretty safe (with the exception of primroses, but it's so commonly said to be edible that I had to mention it WITH a warning.) DO remember not to eat commercially-grown flowers unless you know they're grown 100% organically. Pesticides aren't good for people.

These are said to be nice for salads: nasturtiums, borage, roses, violets and their leaves, chives, broccoli (it turns into yellow florettes that look kind of pretty against spinach), dandelions, pansies & johnny-jump-ups, bergamot, calendula, sage, rosemary, and sweet rocket (whatever that is--I like the name!)

I have seen these cooked or brewed with: dianthus (aka the chrysanthemums known as "pinks"), elderflowers, mint, dandelions. I've heard rumors of mullein and soapwort blossoms in brewing, even.

I have also seen recipes for rose petal jam, hibuscus-blossom tea, and suggestions to make vinegars using carnations, clover, elderflowers, lavender, nasturtiums, primroses,* rose petals, rosemary flowers, thyme flowers, violets. ****However, I list primroses with a warning--some sources say it's toxic. It may be a confusion between varieties, or between European and American nomenclature, I don't know. So whether "the jury's still out" safety or not, I myself won't eat 'em, and I REALLY don't think making an infusion of it would be a good idea.

Citrus blossoms and apple blossoms also ring a bell as potential flavorings--if you live in an area where you can obtain them--but I have never seen it written down. "Orange blossom honey" by the way does not mean mixing the petals into the honey but taking the honey from bees who have fed at an orange grove.

I saw a beautiful thing done at a gourmet shop once. They pressed soft goat cheese into a form that they had lined with petals in patterns.

There's one more thing turned up in a "salad herbs" page that startled me. Dandelions I knew, but would you believe chickweed is edible? Well, maybe if I'm really desperate...I'd rather eat that than cicadas!

Mary "Emme"
who doesn't eat flowers much herself because she's got hay fever

From: "Janice D. Seals" <DianeTN5.AOL.COM>
Subject: Safe, Edible Flowers

Be certain that the flowers you use in cookery are pesticide-free. Before you start experimenting with all those pretty blossoms in your yard, it is essential that you become familiar with which ones are safe and which ones are unsafe.

Flowers have been used as food in cultures all over the world since antiquity. Odysseus encountered the lotus-eating Sybarites on his way home from Troy. Charlemagne ordered his wine to be flavored with palace garden carnations.

The Chinese have used daylilies,lotus, and chrysanthemums in their cuisine for centuries. Elizabethan cooks made "stewed primroses" and "gillyflower fondant" and Queen Bess favored Lavender conserve. The American colonists made such delicacies as violet vinegar, Oswego tea with bergamont flowers, and mutton broth with marigolds.

The best time to pick edible flowers is in the early morning when the blossoms are fresh and moist. Remove any part of the stem. You will notice that some recipes call for just the petals of the flower. This is because the stamen, sepal, and calyx may be bitter. I have noted on this list when petals are the only part to use. Gently wash the blossoms or petals in cool water. Wrap them in paper towels and place in a plastic bag to be stored in the refrigerator until mealtime. It's best to use them when fresh, but the flowers will keep for a few days this way and may be "crisped" in ice water if revival is necessary.

The flowers of all culinary herbs are safe to use. If the leaf of an herb is edible, then so is the flower. Herb blossoms have the same flavor as their leaves, but, with the exceptions of chamomile and lavender blossoms, the flavor is usually more subtle. A good way to start experimenting is to use the flowers of an herb in recipes calling for that particular herb.

Here is a short list of safe flowers. It is not complete, by any means but this will give you something to start with. There are probably many more safe flowers then is listed here.

I will post a list of some unsafe flowers on another post. Please remember it's best not to use flowers you don't know about. If in doubt, call your local poison center.

Safe, edible flowers

  • All culinary herbs
  • Bachelor's button
  • Begonia
  • Calendula (petals)
  • Carnation (Dianthus pinks) (petals)
  • Chrysanthemum (petals)
  • Citrus-scented marigold (petals)
  • Citrus tree blossoms
  • Cornflower
  • Dandelion (petals)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)
  • English daisy (petals)
  • Fuchsia
  • Gladiola
  • Hibiscus
  • Hollyhock
  • Honeysuckle
  • Johnny-jump-up
  • Lily (Lilium auratum only)
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Peas (Pisum sativum)
  • Purslane
  • Rose (petals)
  • Scented geraniums
  • Snapdragon
  • Squash (especially male zucchini blossoms)
  • Tulip
  • Viola
  • Violet
  • Watercress
  • Water lily (Nymphaea odorata)
  • Yucca


From: "Dorian G" <godorian.SINGNET.COM.SG>

> Chrysanthemum (petals)

That was a most informative mail on edible flowers. I'd just like to add that dried Chrysanthemum petals alone makes the most wonderful & aromatic tea. Brew it as you would any regular tea, for optimum result add a little sugar for taste. However, *don't* add any milk to it, that would corrupt the delicate flagrance. The Chinese believe that Chrysanthemum tea brew in this fashion has a certain cooling effect, it's a great drink to counter the heat of the Summer months ahead.

From: "Janice D. Seals" <DianeTN5.AOL.COM>
Subject: Unsafe Flowers to eat

Here is short list of UNSAFE flowers that cannot be eat. This list is not complete. But will help you get started on your way to safely eating flowers. It is best not to use flowers you are unsure about. If in doubt, do not eat it and call your local poison center. Also if you have children make sure they know the difference. Be certain that the flowers you use in cookery are pesticide-free.

Do not use - "Toxic Flowers"

  • Azalea
  • Buttercup*
  • Boxwood
  • Columbine
  • Cowslip*
  • Daffodil
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove
  • Fritillaria
  • Goldenrod (not true. -Henriette)
  • Heliotrope*
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Jack-in -the-pulpit
  • Jimsonweed
  • Lily (Lilium atamasco)
  • Lily (Lilium gloriosa)
  • Lily-of-the-valley
  • Milkweed*
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Narcissus
  • Nightshade family (Belladonna, bittersweet, white potato, tomato, eggplant)
  • Oleander
  • Pennyroyal
  • Poinsettia
  • Poppy
  • Rhododendron
  • Scarlet pimpernel*
  • Snowdrops
  • St.-John's-wort (not true. -Henriette)
  • Tansy*
  • Yellow jessamine
  • Wisteria

*These have proven toxic to animals, so they are included as a caution, I would suggest further research before, including them in your cuisine.

The blossom of Queen-Anne's lace may also be toxic, although it has been used medicinally in the past and sometimes now appears in exotic recipes. The roots of Queen-Anne's lace are maginally edible, young ones being okay. The young plants looks a great deal like poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) which is quite toxic, so great caution must be used when picking Queen's Anne's lace for edible purposes. People have also said that they have eaten cowslip and milkweed greens with no apparent ill effects. But still these plants have not been documented as a safe edible flower. It is better to be safe than sorry.

From: "Peter A. Gail" <PETERGAIL.AOL.COM>

Milkweed buds and flowers are eminently edible when properly prepared, but you must know how to do it. The plant contains a highly toxic alkaloid in its milky juice, but this is heat labile and breaks down and washes out when the buds and flowers are plunged into boiling water, boiled 2-3 minutes and drained, covered with a second change of boiling water for 2 minutes and drained, and then cooked for a couple of minutes in a third change. Drained, served with salt and pepper and a bit of margarine/butter, this is one heavenly vegetable, and our family favorite.

Culinary herb FAQ: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/faqs/culi-4-6-jelly.html