I once had an utter fascination with edible flowers, more specifically sugared or candied flowers.  I even wrote a short story, entitled “Sugar Flower” when I was in college.  The concept was romantic, whimsical, and old-fashioned at the time; however, now,  edible flora has become more mainstream, even cool.  Sure, many cultures have been imbibing in edible flowers for centuries, but for most Americans, the idea is somewhat novel and very exciting.  Another source of sustainable, homegrown food that isn’t simply a garnish.  Let’s explore some of the better known and more common edible plants and their varying uses.



Described as poor man’s saffron, Calendula petals are spicy and peppery.  They can be sprinkled on soups, pastas, rice, salad and even made into an herb butter.  They too, when added to a dish, add a golden hue, like saffron.


Johnny Jump Up

Blossoms have a mild, wintergreen flavor and can be used in salads or to decorate cakes.  They also make good candied flowers.


Day Lilies

Their flavor has been described as a cross between asparagus and zucchini.  Can be stuffed like squash blossoms, used in salads or to decorate a cake.



They have a somewhat nondescript flavor like lettuce and can be used in salads or used as little “bowls” to serve dips or spreads in.



The entire flower is edible and has a pleasant, mild minty flavor that works well for decorating cakes or as candied blooms.


Bee Balm

Is used to make tea and has a very similar flavor to Earl Grey.



Has a spicy, peppery clove-like flavor that can be used in pastas and salads.

Before embarking on a culinary journey with flowers, be sure to know exactly which parts of the flower are edible.  In some instances, it may just be the petals, in others it may be the entire plant, and by all means, do not go around nibbling flowers in your garden.  Some are completely inedible and more importantly poisonous.

Consider adding these and other edible flowers to your garden.  Herbs, vegetables and fruits aren’t the only edible game in town.

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.”

-Henry Beecher

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney