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Bootstrap Farmer's Edible Flower List

September 25, 2022 26 min read 0 Comments

Bootstrap Farmer's Edible Flower List

There are hundreds of plants that produce edible flowers. While we cannot list every one of them here, we have tried to include a lion’s share of the most popular and some of the often overlooked but valuable additions to any farmscape. Some genuses of flowers contain one or two edible species but the majority are toxic. We have intentionally left the easily confused ones out of this guide. This resource will be updated as we learn of new varieties or learn important facts about old standbys. If you know a flower we have missed, please let us know in the comments, and we will include it in our next round of updates.

Also check out the Top 10 Edible Flowers to Grow for best flowers to grow for restaurants and chefs.

EXPLANATION OF TERMS USED:

WARM SEASON ANNUAL - OFTEN REFERRED TO AS TENDER ANNUALS AS WELL, THESE PLANTS THRIVE IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER BUT WILL DIE OFF AT THE FIRST FROST. THEY NEED TO BE PLANTED OUT AFTER ALL DANGER OF FROST HAS PASSED. THINK SUNFLOWERS, ZINNIAS AND BASIL.

COOL SEASON ANNUAL - THESE HARDY PLANTS CAN BE PLANTED IN THE FALL FOR SPRING BLOOMS IN MILDER ZONES OR 6-8 WEEKS BEFORE YOUR LAST FROST DATE IN THE EARLY SPRING. THINK BACHELOR BUTTONS, CALENDULA AND SNAPDRAGONS.

BIENNIAL- PLANTS IN THIS FAMILY USUALLY WILL NOT FLOWER UNTIL THEIR SECOND YEAR OF GROWTH. MOST NEED A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF COLD TO STIMULATE FLOWERS THE FOLLOWING YEAR. CARROTS, GARLIC CHIVES AND MANY OTHER ALLIUMS FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY.

TENDER PERENNIAL- IN HARSHER GROWING ZONES MANY OF THESE TYPES OF PLANTS CAN BE GROWN AS ANNUALS. IN MILDER CLIMATES THEY WILL COME BACK YEAR AFTER YEAR EVEN THOUGH MANY WILL LOOK “DEAD” IN THE WINTER. DEPENDING ON YOUR GROWING ZONE AND THE USE OF CROP PROTECTION THESE PLANTS CAN PROVIDE IMPORTANT BLOOMS IN SEASONS OF DEARTH.

PERENNIAL - LIVING MORE THAN 2 YEARS THESE PLANTS ARE OFTEN USED IN LANDSCAPING OR FOOD FORESTS. SOME PRODUCE BLOOMS YEAR ROUND WITH A LITTLE EXTRA LOVE. JUST LIKE THEIR TENDER COUSINS THEY CAN PROVIDE FLOWERS IN THE SHOULDER SEASONS, WHEN ANNUALS ARE WAITING TO GO IN OR ON THEIR WAY OUT. BLUEBERRIES, FRUIT TREES, AND SHRUBS LIKE ABUTILON ALL FIT HERE.

SPP. - WHEN YOU SEE THIS NEXT TO A GENUS NAME IT MEANS THERE ARE MULTIPLE SPECIES THAT ARE USED.

VARIEGATED - FLOWERS WITH THIS DESIGNATION OFTEN COME IN VARIETIES THAT ARE A COMBINATION OF OTHER COLORS AVAILABLE.

A

ABUTILON - (ABUTILON PICTUM OR ABUTILON HYBRIDUM, MILLERI)

albutilon

These perennials are hardy in zones 8-11 but can be grown as container plants as well, allowing them to be brought in for protection during harsh winters. The flowers on some varieties are large at around 2-3 inches across and resemble hibiscus blooms. They have a mild, slightly sour flavor and good texture. Striking on cakes or floating in a cocktail, abutilon are a great addition to landscape planning with an eye towards edible flowers. Remove the sepals from the flower before serving. Because they will bloom throughout the year in temperate weather they offer value as an edible crop while providing vital pollen and nectar for beneficials when little else is available.

ALLIUMS

Allium

Onions, garlic and chives all produce edible flowers. See individual listings for special considerations. This also includes elephant garlic and society garlic.

ALYSSUM - (LOBULARIA MARITIMA)

allysum

These sweet little flower clusters are mild in flavour and are actually part of the brassica family. They are low growing and do well in hanging baskets. Ranging from white to all shades of purple they are reliable producers in the spring and early summer.

AMARANTH - (AMARANTHUS SPP.)

amaranth

Nearly all members of the Amaranthus genus are edible including many that grow wild and are referred to as pigweed. Long popular in many indeginous cultures in the Americas, it is grown for both its greens and as a grain crop. The flowers can have very different textures depending on the stage of growth. Some are smooth and slightly crunchy while some can become spiky as the grain inside matures. The flavors likewise can range from sour to sweetly grainy. Due to their large beautiful sprays consisting of thousands of tiny individual flowers they make excellent plating elements for large buffets and charcuterie plates. The flowers retain their color when dried. There are a wide variety of colors and shapes available and we recommend trying a variety of types to see what grows best for you.

ANISE HYSSOP - (AGASTACHE FOENICULUM)

Sometimes known as licorice mint. Both the young leaves and the striking purple flowers have a mild licorice flavour. Pull the purple flower tubes away from the central structure of the flower and scatter them in salads or fancy drinks for a pop of colour and flavour. As part of the mint family many other species of Agastache are edible. Colors can range from white to deep purple.

APPLE BLOSSOMS - (MALUS SPP.)

apple blossom

These blooms have a delicate flavour and a mildly sweet scent. They work particularly well in fruit salads. Planting multiple varieties will extend the availability of blooms. Use sparingly as the flowers contain very low levels of cyanide. Removing the green sepals will help abate this problem.

ARUGULA – (ERUCA SATIVA, VESICARIA)

Arugula

As a cool season green, arugula leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant. Hot weather will cause the plants to bolt, which is ideal if your goal is to harvest the spicy, sweet flowers. The plumes of tiny yellow or white flowers are also fantastic for attracting beneficial insects to the garden. Try mixing them into compound butter and adding them to pastas for a spicy kick. They also go great on top of pizza.
Wild Arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) is also very popular with chefs and is a different species although they are grown and used similarly.

B

BACHELOR BUTTONS - (CENTAUREA CYANUS)

bachelor button

Comes in a wide variety of colors: purple, blue, pink, black (dark maroon) and white. Pull the many tiny flowers from the green sepals and sprinkle them anywhere you want to add color and visual interest. Regular harvesting will keep these blooming for multiple seasons. In mild climates they can be planted in the late fall for early spring blooms. Centaurea cyanushas been shown to significantly improve cabbage yields when planted in rows by increasing predatory insect populations that consume cabbage moth eggs and larvae.
Note: There are a number of other flowers that are sometimes called Bachelor Buttons and not all of them are edible. The only types we recommend are Centaurea cyanusand Gomphrena globosa also known as globe amaranth.  

BALSAM - (IMPATIENS BALSAMINA)

Balsam

This flower belongs to a larger family of plants that includes inedible varieties, check the species before you plant. Only this particular type of impatiens is considered edible. The plants are widely adaptable. Balsam grows well in containers as they are thirsty plants when grown in full sun. The fragrant leaves are frequently used in curries. Seed pods will pop open when ripe, so pick early and often if you do not want them to reseed themselves.

BASIL - (OCIMUM BASILICUM, AFRICANUM)

basil

Basil is the ultimate must grow in the edible flower garden. Most growers are used to picking the leaves before the plant has flowered. After blooming, the leaves change and become less appealing. Unlike many edible flowers which can be bland or slightly bitter, the flowers of the basil plant are fantastically flavorful when eaten raw. The flowers range from white to lavender, depending on variety. Each variety has its own distinct flavor. The blooms are stunning sprinkled over pasta. Cinnamon basil and lemon basil are favorites of chefs and cut flower farmers alike. Both have flavors that can compliment desserts as well as savory dishes.

BEGONIA - (BEGONIA TUBERHYBRIDA, SEMPERFLORENS-CULTORUM)

Begonia

Both tuberous and wax begonias have edible flowers and leaves. Although they are generally tropical understory plants that prefer warm shady areas, they can be grown very successfully indoors or in a hoop house with shade outside the recommended growing zones of 7-11. The flavors can range, depending on variety, from a slightly sour taste reminiscent of sorrel to a sharp citrus flavour. Wax begonias have tiny seeds and are often easiest grown from quality organic nursery starts. Begonias are unisexual, meaning the plants have male and female flowers, with very different appearances, on the same plant. Begonia flowers and leaves contain oxalic acid, so should be avoided by people suffering from kidney stones, gout, or rheumatism.

BEANS - (PHASEOLUS VULGARIS)

bean flower

All edible beans have edible flowers. See Scarlet Runner Beans.

BEE BALM – (MONARDA FISTULOSA)

bee balm

Often called wild bergamot it is not to be confused with true bergamot which is a member of the citrus family. Flowers and leaves of this member of the mint family have a citrus/mint flavor that works very well in cakes, desserts and cocktails. Small flowers grow in large clusters. Great for attracting pollinators to the garden.

BORAGE – (BORAGO OFFICNIALIS)

borage

Borage has fuzzy foliage and, usually, blue star-shaped flowers. Some flowers will have pink or partially pink petals. There is also a less commonly used type that has white flowers. All have a mild cucumber flavor. They hold up in a fridge fairly well, and make a great addition to salads, soups and cocktails.

BRASSICAS

brassicas

Any brassica grown as an edible vegetable will produce edible flowers. The flowers range from white to yellow with purple varieties sometimes producing purple sepaled flowers. Allowing some brassicas to go to flower in the vegetable garden will attract beneficial insects. A favorite food of aphids, they can also act as a trap crop. A few excellent varieties for edible flower production are: broccoli raab, kosaitai (a purple stemmed Yu Choy Sum), flowering pak choy, crimson tide mustard, yellow mustard.

BUTTERFLY PEA - (CLITORIA TERNATEA)

butterfly pea

These large vining plants grow best with hot and humid weather. It will not tolerate any frost. The large blooms are used to color food and drink, the resulting blue will change to purple or pink depending on the pH of added ingredients. This effect makes them popular in the cocktail market. The blooms can also be battered and fried.

C

CALENDULA – (CALENDULA OFFICINALIS)

calendula

Also known as pot marigolds, this family has petals that range from yellow to deep orange. Remove the petals from the bitter green sepals. The petals are tangy with hints of peppery notes. Great for salads, drinks and petal confetti. Pigment from the petals can be used as dye in ice creams and frostings. In areas with mild winters they can be successfully planted in late fall for early spring blooms and are short lived perennials in zones 9-11.

CATNIP - (NEPETA CATARIA, SPP.)

catnip

Also known as catmint, this herb produces tall sprays of white, blue or purple flowers depending on the variety. Both the leaves and flowers can be used to flavor teas and cocktails. Can be used fresh or dried. Just be sure to keep it up high where cats can’t destroy your plants. Catnip can become easily invasive and take over large areas of your garden. For this reason we recommend growing it in containers where the runners will be contained and dividing up the plants every few years.

CELOSIA - (CELOSIA ARGENTEA VAR.)

celosia

These tender annuals are members of the amaranth family. All celosia are edible but the most popular cut flower varieties are in the argentea species. The available color palette is reminiscent of a sunset with a wide range of yellows, oranges, pinks, purples and reds. The inflorescence of these plants can be separated into many smaller “flowers” or used in their whole form for large displays. They also make excellent dried flowers that keep their bright colors and unique texture extremely well. Can be kept as a tender perennial in zones 9-12. Will also grow indoors but requires 12 hours of light for optimal flower production.

CHAMOMILE – (MATRICARIA RECUTITA)

chamomile

Known as German Chamomile with idyllic small daisy-like flowers. They have a sweet, mild flavor when fresh and can also be used dried. Often used in tea, baked goods and for a mild floral flavor in drinks. These do great in containers or they can be direct sown outdoors.

CHERVIL - (ANTHRISCUS CEREFOLIUM)

chervil

This leafy herb is also known as French parsley. It is often grown to the flower stage for its delicate white blooms. The flowers' mild flavor and the lacey foliage, make it a stunning addition to plated dishes. Chervil has a mild anise taste that works well in the kitchen or the bar. It prefers cooler temperatures and can be grown in the winter in zones 8-10.

CHICORY

chicory

All members of this family, which includes endive, escarole, Italian dandelion, and radicchio, produce tall stems with blue or occasionally white flowers. Flowers will not appear until the second year of growth. Plants that appear to have died back will often regrow from the roots every year. The petals can be pulled from the green sepal and added to salads or pastas. Unopened flower buds can be pickled like capers. Chicory flowers fade quickly and the petals should be collected the day of bloom. They have a distinctly bitter flavor that is mildest in the petal itself. Garnet stemmed dandelion is a prolific bloom producer.

CHIVES - (ALLIUM SCHOENOPRASUM)

CHIVES

These purple flowers have a mild onion flavour that is fantastic with cold dishes like tabouli or potato salad. Growers will harvest these before the blooms are fully open as the florets are usually separated out versus served as a full bloom. The individual florets will open over the span of many days and are better picked too early than too late as the petals can get papery when dry. As long as the seeds inside the florets are still green they can continue to be used as a stronger version of the edible flower.

CHRYSANTHEMUM - (GLEBIONIS CORONARIA)

Chrysanthemum

The edible chrysanthemum and/or garland chrysanthemum produce both edible young leaves and appealing white daisy-like flowers with yellow centres, or flowers that are entirely yellow. Some other types of chrysanthemum are considered edible like the Indian Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum) which is used to make teas. The petals of both are edible and a bit bitter/tangy. While the petals of all types of chrysanthemums are technically edible some can be quite bitter. Traditional garden mums are not recommended for edible flowers as they can cause allergic skin reactions in some people. Another flower where it is very important to know which type you are growing.

CILANTRO –(CORIANDRUM SATIVUM)

CILANTRO –(CORIANDRUM SATIVUM)

Conveniently for flower production, cilantro bolts very easily in higher temperatures. Planting your plants earlier in the spring will ensure they are large before they begin to bolt. The leafy herb sends out sparse umbels with little white fragrant flowers. Cilantro blooms have a light, mild flavor. The leaves, stem, seeds and flowers can all be consumed. The green seed heads are particularly pretty and flavorful.

CLOVER

CLOVER

Trifolium incarnatum (crimson clover),Trifolium repens(white clover) Trifolium pratense (red clover) are all edible and have sweet, mild flavours. Crimson clover tastes surprisingly of watermelon while white clover is akin to licorice. All above ground parts of clover are edible but the mature plants can cause stomach upset so leaves and flowers are best eaten slightly immature. Some clovers are perennial and others will frost kill.

COSMOS - (COSMOS SULPHUREUS)

COSMOS - (COSMOS SULPHUREUS)

This is the only type of cosmos that is edible. Don’t be fooled by types like chocolate cosmos, they are a different species and poisonous. These have a more mounding habit than other types of cosmos grown for cut flowers. The petals are mildly bitter. Be sure you are getting these from a reliable seed supplier or nursery so you know you are growing the edible type.

D

DAME’S ROCKET - (HESPERIS MATRONALIS)

DAME’S ROCKET )

Although widely grown as a cut flower they are highly invasive and banned in some states so we do not recommend planting these. Also known as damask violets, these members of the brassica family range from whites to light pinks and lavender. They are slightly bitter, both petals and young leaves are edible.

DANDELION - TAXACUM OFFICINALIS

Dandelion

The entire dandelion plant is edible. Most have yellow flowers but there are a few varieties that have white or pink flowers. False dandelions can usually be ruled out because of their hairy stems. True dandelions have smooth stems and only one flower per stalk. They can be used in salads and cocktails, some chefs also batter and fry entire blooms.

DAYLILIES - (HEMEROCALLIS SPP.)

DayLily
It is EXTREMELY important to note that Daylilies are not true lilies, they are completely different classes of plants, true lilies are toxic. As the name suggests these blooms last only about 24 hours after opening. Since a scape can have up to 15 buds that will continue to develop after being cut, they can be sold in the style of a cut flower for continued blooming at a chef’s location. Slightly peppery, the large petals have a satisfying texture. Unopened buds of the day lily are used in Chinese cuisine. The unopened buds should be cooked before eating. Daylilies are perennials that will not always bloom their first year in the ground but will continue to produce flowers for a number of years with little maintenance.

DAHLIAS - (DAHLIA SPP.)

dahlia
Available in amazing color combinations, ranging in size from 2” blooms up to a foot across in “dinner plate” types. The edible petals are versatile and mildly flavored but should be removed from the sepals for better taste. Entire books have been written just on dahlia cultivation. There are over 20,000 named dahlias that have been bred over the years, every one of them with edible petals and tubers. With so many options to choose from it is worth doing some research into types that do well in your area. They grow quite well in grow bags allowing them to be brought indoors for overwintering in areas that experience hard frosts. To this day breeders are working to perfect the dahlia for tuber production since they range greatly in flavor and texture.

DIANTHUS - (DIANTHUS SPP.)

Dianthus
Carnations, Pinks, and Sweet Williams are all members of the dianthus genus. Listed here from largest to smallest blooms, carnations are larger single blooms with many petals, pinks are smaller and usually have only 5 petals, sweet william varieties have large flower heads composed of many small 5 petal blooms. Larger dianthus flowers have a sweet flavor with hints of clove. They are best if separated from the bitter green sepals just before serving. All dianthus are tender perennials that can be grown as annuals in climates with harsher winters. In zones 6-9 fall planted seeds will bloom earlier in the spring.

DILL - (ANETHUM GRAVEOLENS)

dill
The flowers from the dill plant are tiny, yellow blooms that grow on large umbels. For flowers harvest before seeds begin to set. The large umbels can be used to garnish any plate that would benefit from a little dill aroma and flavor. The heads can be broken up into individual florets for inclusion into cheeses and compound butters.

E

ECHINACEA - (ECHINACEA SPP.)

Echinacea
A widely used medicinal plant native to North America. All parts of the coneflower are used in a variety of preparations. For edible flowers use the petals in salads and decoratively. The whole flowers and dried flower heads can be used in buffet displays and cake decoration. Echinacea is a medicinal plant and, as such, should be used sparingly. Some people are allergic to the pollen. Most varieties will flower in their second year of growth but there are a few hybrids that will flower the first year.

ENGLISH DAISY – (BELLIS PERENNIS)

English Daisy

Sometimes called lawn daisies, these are edible low growing flowers with a traditional daisy appearance. A yellow disk shaped center with a multitude of tiny petals that can range from white to pink to reds. They have a mild, slightly bitter flavor. Pull the petals to sprinkle on salads or use the whole flower for decorating cakes and desserts. These perennials are often grown as annuals from plugs, or biennials from seed, outside of their ideal growing zones. They will not flower in their third year but do self sow readily in their preferred environment.

F

FAVA - (VICIA FABA)

Fava Bean

Unlike most bean types, fava are a cool season annual. They can be planted in fall or early spring in many areas. Favas do not like temperatures over 75℉. Most fava types have white flowers but a few are purple and the one available crimson type makes an excellent edible flower. The unique shape of fava flowers make them a great addition to the cooler growing seasons and their mild bean flavor complements many dishes.

FENNEL – (FOENICULUM VULGARE)

Fennel

All parts of the fennel plant are edible. It is very similar to dill in that it will produce tall yellow umbels of flowers when they bolt. The flavor is of mild licorice and is a popular amongst chefs for desserts. It can also be used to good effect in cocktails.

FRUIT TREES

fruit tree

Any fruit tree growing on your farm for produce can be a source of edible blooms during their often short flowering period. Citrus flowers are fragrant and potent when added to drinks and salads. Stone fruit trees have delicate blooms with a gorgeous appeal on the plate. Apples are quite lovely as the blooms tend to come much later in the Spring than other trees. For all of these, removing the green sepals improves palatability. While growing these trees, especially for their blooms, doesn’t make much sense, they can provide early contributions to the palate you have to offer chefs—also a great marker of seasonality.

G

GARLIC - (ALLIUM SATIVUM)

garlic

Only hardneck varieties of garlic will produce scapes that flower. These eventually develop into clusters of bulbils that can also be eaten. While growing garlic for the flowers may not be as common it is beautiful and extremely flavorful. They only flower once per year but the flower heads can be quite large. Sprinkling the individual flowers and green bulbils on pasta is a treat everyone must try at least once. Planting them like ornamental spring bulbs and using garlic as a companion plant to protect your other crops can provide a nice harvest of this hard to find delicacy. If you know a chef that loves seasonal foods and is a bit adventurous, these could be an excellent seller for their short season.

GERANIUM, SCENTED - (PELARGONIUM SPP.)

Geraniums

Note: These are not true geraniums, they are in the same family but a separate genus from Geranium spp. The geranium family is quite large and only the Pelargonium are suitable for edible uses. When choosing to plant for edible flowers stick to the scented leaf varieties. Scented geraniums come in a great variety of types, each with its own scent and flavor. Most of these are propagated by cutting very easily. The flavors can range from citruses to roses to mints. They are excellent with desserts and in cocktails.

GLOBE AMARANTH - GOMPHRENA GLOBOSA

globe amaranth

Texturally these are not the best of the edible flowers. The small pom pom shaped flowers are stiff and brightly colored. Gomphrena keep their color even when dried and can be used to color liquids as well as making excellent “edible” decorations.

H-K

HAWTHORN- (CRATAEGUS CRUS-GALLI)

 Hawthorne

This tree produces huge numbers of flowers in June that bridge an important dearth in flowering plants providing excellent fodder for pollinating insects. The flowers and small fruits from this relative of the apple are edible although flavor varies between types. Often used for teas and flavoring cordials.

HERBS

herbs
Most culinary herbs have flowers that are edible. The flowers often taste like a slightly sweeter version of the leaf. If the green sepal at the base of the petal is left on the flavor will be a strong and often spicy version of the herb. Because herbs sometimes have a mind of their own when it comes to timing and proliferation of blooms, we have included individual listings of the most popular types that have more reliable bloom times. Many herbs are grown as tender perennials in mild climates but are treated as annuals in areas that get a lot of frost. Other herbs with edible flowers include: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Anise, Catnip/Catmint, Caraway, Cumin, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Lovage, Oregano, Marjoram, Shiso.

HIBISCUS - (HIBISCUS SABDARIFFA, ROSA-SINENSIS, SPP)

Hibiscus

Hibiscus are a large family of flower plants some of which are grown as annuals while others are perennial shrubs. Some other types than those listed may be edible. Rose of Sharon likewise is used to refer to a large group of plants that includes Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Another place where knowing exactly what you are growing is important. Many members of this family of plants have flowers that look very similar but the two species mentioned here have been cultivated for food in many cultures for a long time. These large flowers can bring a lot of visual interest to a plate and most have nice texture and pleasing mild flavor. Pick the same day the flower opens for best shelf life. The calyces (with seeds removed) of sabdariffaare used to color and flavor beverages in many different cuisines.

HOLLYHOCK – (ALCEA ROSEA, MALVA ALCEA)

Hollyhock

These virtually flavorless, bright flowers are often used for desserts. You will need space to grow these as they can self-seed readily and grow to approximately 3ft tall. The petals are the only palatable part of the flower, remove all other parts before serving. Available in a variety of colors including the elusive black. Make sure you know which types you are growing and stick to the types that have been cultivated for edible or medicinal uses.

L

LAVENDER – (LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA)

Lavender

High-quality lavender is always in demand and can be sold fresh or dried. For edible flowers, harvest when blooms have begun to open. For bakery use or chocolatiers, sell fresh bundles of flowers right before the buds open to preserve the oils. Once harvested, preserve the extra by hanging upside to dry. Again harvesting before the flower buds open is extremely important for the quality of oils in dried material. Once dried, the buds can be stripped from the stems and cured in jars for culinary use. There are a considerable number of varieties of lavender. Check with your seed supplier or local nursery for ones that are well suited to your zone. Because lavender is slow to grow from seed, it is best to start with established plants or cuttings.

LILAC - (SYRINGA VULGARIS)

Lilac
These highly fragrant flowers grow on bushes. Flowers range from white to light purple to pink. Formed in clusters, the flowers have a light lemony flavor that can be added to dishes or diffused into oils. Harvest before blooms open to preserve the oils. Add buds or blooms to fresh lemonade for a special treat.

M

MARIGOLDS - (TAGETES TENUIFOLIA, LUCIDA)

Marigold

Marigolds come in a range of warm colors from yellow, orange, red, and variegated combinations of all three . For edible flowers we recommend using the small Tagetes tenuifolia, commonly known as gem or signet marigold. These have a milder citrusy flavor. Mexican mint marigold Tagetes lucida, is a popular herb often referred to as southern tarragon or sweet mace. The leaves and flowers have a sweet licorice flavor. While all of the members of the marigold family have flowers that are technically edible, both the french and african varieties have a pungent smell and are often bitter in flavor. For all types removing the green sepals will take away most of the bitterness.

MINT - ALL MINT (MENTHA SPP.)

Mint
Mint varieties have edible flowers. The individual flowers are tiny. Mint flowers have a robust mint flavor that can range from chocolatey to lemony depending on the mint type. They can be downright “spicy” level strong. Mint is very susceptible to cross-pollination and will not grow true to type, so particular varieties like chocolate mint are best propagated by runner or cutting. Because of the strong smell of these flowers, they can attract flies. Catmint is part of the Lamiaceae family but falls under the genus Nepeta. All members of the Mentha genus can become quickly invasive and take over large areas of your garden. For this reason, we recommend growing it in containers where the runners will be contained and dividing up the plants every few years.

MORINGA - (MORINGA OLEIFERA)

Moringa
Also known as the Drumstick Tree or Horseradish Tree. It can flower and fruit twice each year depending on climate. This fast growing, drought tolerant tree has great potential in combating malnutrition. All parts of the plant are edible and used in many dishes in Indian cuisine. Worth researching as a specialty crop in zones 9-11 or when grown under protection.

NASTURTIUM - (TROPAEOLUM MAJUS)

Nasturtium
All garden nasturtiums produce edible flowers, leaves, stems and seeds. The fresh seeds can even be pickled like capers. Interestingly this familiar garden flower is a cousin of the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, mustards, etc…). All parts of the nasturtium have a pleasing, sweet, peppery flavour. The flowers can be used whole to decorate salads and a variety of other foods. The long nectary section of the calyx may be removed if you find that it is harboring ants or other small insects. Nasturtium as a name is also used to refer to a different genus of plants that include watercress. Both Nasturtiumand Tropaeolumhave similar sweet, peppery flavors.

NIGELLA - (NIGELLA DAMASCENA, SATIVA)

Nigella
Known as 'love-in-a-mist' or black cumin, these are frequently grown as a cut flower that can be used fresh or for the dried seed pods that retain shape and color very well. The seeds are used as a spice in many cultures. They make excellent decorative flowers for cakes and savory dishes. May cause intestinal upset in large quantities so best used more for decoration than eating.

O, P, Q

OKRA - (ABELMOSCHUS ESCULENTUS)

okra
This member of the mallow family produces an abundance of large blooms that quickly mature into edible seed pods. The flowers have a slightly mucilaginous texture. Okra is a great choice for hot climates as the plants are drought tolerant and prefer high temps to produce. Keep well picked to encourage new blooms.

ONIONS - (ALLIUM CEPA)

onion
All members of the onion family produce large seed heads made up of up to a 100 individual flowers. Most have a strong, slightly sweet onion flavor. The green seed heads can also be eaten raw or pickled. They make excellent additions sprinkled over savory dishes just before serving, imparting a fresh green heat to any dish.

ORCHIDS

orchid
Dendrobiums and Epidendrums are the two genus of orchids most commonly grown for edible flower production. While most types of orchids are not toxic to humans some types can cause intestinal distress so it is best to stick with known varieties. Do your research before you invest in growing orchids, the edible genuses are not hardy when grown outdoors in most of the USA. Most successful edible orchid growers are growing in carefully controlled environments. The large blooms are great for focal points in plating and the smaller types can be scattered in salads or floated in a cocktail. The flavor is usually mild and reminiscent of lettuce.

PASSION FLOWER - (PASSIFLORA INCARNATA)

passion flower
This variety often called “Maypop” for its edible fruits and is native to the southeastern US. Well mulched it can be cold hardy up to -20℉. There are many other edible varieties of Passiflora so do a little research and choose a variety that grows well in your area. The large intricate flowers are great for plating and floating in drinks. Depending on your climate these short lived perennials may not flower their first year of growth.
Not recommended for consumption by pregnant people. May cause drowsiness. Because this is a medicinal plant it may interact with some common medications.

PANSY – (VIOLA X WITTROCKIANA)

Pansy
Member of the viola family, only a bit larger than violets. These are very popular pressed and used for cakes and cookies. They are nearly flavorless, making them the perfect bright addition to desserts and salads. A common addition to cocktails as they freeze in ice cubes without discoloring. Remove the bitter green sepals before serving as they can cause intestinal upset.

PEA – (PISUM SATIVUM)

pea flower
This is your average garden pea variety. These legumes produce delicious tender flowers that have a mild pea flavor and do well in salads and other dishes. Flowering pea tendrils can be used for garnish, just cut off the top 6” of the plant complete with flowers. There are hundreds of varieties that can all be used but dwarf varieties are particularly good for flower production. Peas prefer cooler temperatures and blooming will taper off as the weather warms in Summer.
Poisonous Relative: Ornamental sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are TOXIC.

PERENNIAL PHLOX - (PHLOX PANICULATA)

phlox
Be certain that you have the tall-growing perennial garden Phlox not the inedible annual creeping type before you eat the flowers. The perennial type of phlox has flowers with five petals that have a nice, peppery flavour. They look beautiful and add flavor complexity in fruit salads. They also stand up well to being candied or sugared.

PLUMERIA - (PLUMERIA SPP.)

plumeria
Also known as frangipani, these beautiful five petaled flowers are most commonly used in leis but are also edible. They come in a range of colors from white, to pink and red with yellow centers. Only the flowers should be consumed and only in small quantities. According to the USDA forest service "all parts" of the plant are poisonous. The stems exude a sticky white latex that can cause skin irritation so use care when harvesting flowers. Plumeria can be very similar in appearance to oleander which is highly toxic.

PRIMROSE - (PRIMULA VULGARIS)

primrose
Blooms in the early Spring in most areas. The edible types are those native to the northern woodlands of Europe. The flower buds will often be pickled, steamed, or fermented into wine. Very important to know which type you are purchasing when growing from starts. Only these two species are edible. They can be grown from seed but are tricky to germinate, conversely many will reseed themselves if the garden offers their ideal growing conditions.

QUEEN ANNE’S LACE - (DAUCUS CAROTA)

Queen Anne's Lace
Also known as Wild Carrot. The large umbels of tiny white, pink or purple flowers have a distinctly carroty flavor that make them excellent on crudites and charcuterie plates. While most carrots are biennial there are a few varieties that have been bred for cut flower production that will flower their first year. Due to the appearance of these flowers they are easily confused with the highly poisonous wild Poison Hemlock. Carrot family stems are hairy. Poison Hemlock has smooth stems with purple spots. Again know what you are growing before you eat it.

Q-T

ROSE - (ROSA ALBA, CENTIFOLIA, DAMASCENA, GALLICA)

rose
These are the four species of roses identified by the FDA as edible. They can be used to flavor and scent many products. Roses vary widely in scent and flavor so try multiple types to find the one that suits your needs. The small white base of the petal may be bitter. Roses do not grow true to seed so if you want a particular variety you will need to purchase from a reputable organic nursery or start your own from cuttings.

SAFFLOWER - (CARTHAMUS TINCTORIUS)

Safflower
The blooms of this plant are also sold as a replacement for saffron and are used like saffron as a food dye. Fresh petals can be added to rice dishes and salad. The flavour is very mild on its own. Adds a bright orange color naturally.

SAGE - (SALVIA OFFICINALIS)

SAge
The deep blue flowers of culinary sage add an interesting mild-sage flavour to salads or savory dishes. Pull individual flower tubes from the stems. If the sepals are left attached, use sparingly as the flavor can overwhelm a dish. Some other types of Saliva also have edible flowers; Grapefruit sage, White Sage, and Pineapple sage flowers are also edible. Rosemary has recently been reclassified as a member of the salvia family as well. Some salvias are poisonous so make sure you know which types you are growing.

SCARLET RUNNER BEAN - (PHASEOLUS COCCINEUS)

Scarlet Runner Bean
Runner bean flowers are vivid, intense orangey red color. Some varieties have bi-colored flowers. Bean flowers have a deliciously sweet beany flavor. They make fabulous garnishes for soup or salad. Any pole or bush bean flower can also be used as an edible flower but runner beans are recommended because they are prolific flower producers and perennial in mild climates.

SNAPDRAGON - (ANTIRRHINUM MAJUS)

SnapDragon
In mild climates this cool season annual can be fall planted for early Spring blooms. Perennial in zones 7-11 but can be grown as an annual just about anywhere. The tall sprays of medium sized flowers have an unique shape that adds visual interest to the plate. Flowers can range through the sunset in colors with some red varieties approaching purple. The flavor varies by type but tends to be a bit bitter so use sparingly.

SQUASH - (CUCURBITA PEPO)

squash
Both the male and female flowers of all squash and zucchini varieties are edible and taste faintly of squash. If you are growing squash for market it makes sense to only harvest the male blooms, recognizable by their longer stems and lack of proto squash at the base of the flower. Be sure to leave at least one male flower per plant for proper pollination of female flowers. Summer squash varieties are popular for flower production because the plants are quick to mature. The harvested flowers can be torn into salads or stuffed and fried in a light batter. Squash blossoms are popular in Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine.

SUNFLOWER - (HELIANTHUS ANNUUS)

Sunflower
Great as a garnish, added to dishes or as steamed unopened blossoms and served with butter. It has a mild artichoke flavor. Some people also grill entire immature seed heads. Petals have a slightly bitter flavor, and range in colors of light yellows and oranges to deep red that is near black when grown in part shade. Branching types like Lemon Queen and Autumn Beauty can produce 20 or more flowers from a single plant.

STOCK - (MATTHIOLA INCANA)

Stock
Sometimes considered old fashioned, these cool season annuals produce tall stalks of prolific blooms. There are simply petaled varieties and those with a filled in and frilly appearance. Some produce a single flowering column while others are spray types that will produce multiple branches of flowers. Dwarf varieties can do well in containers and even be grown indoors. They are particularly popular with flower growers because of their ability to produce in cooler climates and can be grown to flower in the winter in mild climates. The flowers have a distinct clove smell and are peppery.

TOOTHACHE CRESS - (ACMELLA OLERACEAPREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS SPILANTHES OLERACEA)

toothacheplant
This intriguing plant goes by a variety of names; toothache plant, paracress, Sichuan buttons, buzz buttons, tingle flowers and electric daisy. Eating the flowers produces a numbing sensation, some people also report increased salivation and a tendency to make salty foods taste more so. It can be grown as an annual in many areas but can be perennial in zones 9-11.

U-Z

VEGETABLE HUMMINGBIRD- (SESBANIA GRANDIFLORA)

vegetable hummingbird
This fast growing tree produces edible flowers, leaves and shoots.

ZINNIAS - (ZINNIA SPP.)

Zinnias
These warm season cut flower powerhouses come in a wide variety of cheerful colors. They do well in the hottest part of the Summer when other flowers have lost their oomph. Cut just the petals from the blooms as the sepals and the white ends of the petals may be quite bitter. They look great sprinkled over tacos or mixed into drinks and salads.
Disclaimer:This resource's purpose is to provide general information and inspiration only. Since many of the flowers listed herein are known for medicinal properties, seek the advice of a health professional before touching or eating any plant matter that is new to you. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused or consumed in large quantities.BootstrapFarmer.com stresses that you do not eat any edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees, or bushes until you have verified the genus and species. If selling flowers as a consumable, it is up to you to do your due diligence to know the species of any flowers sold to consumers. No liability exists against BootstrapFarmer.com or anyone who works for BootstrapFarmer.com; nor can they be held responsible for any allergy, illness, or adverse effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of the information in this website or through using any of the plants mentioned by BootstrapFarmer.com.

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