Edible Spring Flower

Edible flowers at CHEFScatalog.com

Bloomin’ onions—you know the tasty breaded deep-fried onions served commonly at steakhouse—are not the only things blooming this season. Coming from South Texas, this is my favorite times of year when the bluebonnets and wild flowers are in season. I think it is a state law that if you have a child, or get married or engaged, your pictures must be taken in a field of bluebonnets. Then there are the blossoms in the garden. Summer squash, herbs, tomatoes, so many beautiful blooms cropping up to enjoy. And many of spring’s blooms are not only beautiful but delicious. In fact, spring flowers can make fabulous looking garnishes for cupcakes and used within dishes to create fresh, unique tastes ideal for the spring season.

Squash Blooms | CHEFS MixI think most people know some of the common edible flowers—squash blossoms, hibiscus, pansies and roses, to name a few. As a kid, who didn’t find the nearest honeysuckle bush and pull out the stamen for that tiny, sweet drop of nectar. But please, don’t just run into the garden or nearest blossoming field and start grabbing flowers to nosh. While there are many flowers and plants that are edible, there are an equal number that can make you very sick.

First, always remember to only use flowers that you are sure are edible. Typically, you should only use the petals; however, sometimes the leaves are edible and flavorful, too. Additionally, I recommend avoiding flowers from florists or stores that sell flowers because they are sprayed with chemicals. In addition, for those with hay fever or other outdoor allergies, you may want to avoid these natural dishes. Some recipes including blossoms that are ideal for the home cook include:

Violet JamViolet Jam Recipe | CHEFS Mix

I recommend trying this on your toast tomorrow morning. You will wonder why you wasted your time with grape jelly for so long—I know I did. This particular recipe calls for the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of wild violet blossoms
  • 1-1/2 cup of water
  • 2-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 medium lime (you can also use a lemon).
  • 1 package of pectin (1.75 oz.)

I begin by using a food processor to blend the flowers. Then, add 3/4-cup water, lime juice, and blend well. Slowly add the sugar and continue blending. At this point, it will turn into a paste. Bring the pectin and water to a boil, and then mix it in the food processor with the other ingredients. Pour mixture into jars, immediately to set.

Yarrow EggsYarrow Eggs Recipe | CHEFS Mix

Foodies, you have to try this! I like to make a big breakfast consisting of yarrow eggs and violet jam on toast; it is the ultimate springtime breakfast or brunch. To make yarrow eggs, you need:

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped yarrow
  • 1/2 of a small onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste (You can also use cayenne pepper or fresh garlic instead.)

I start by chopping up my yarrow finely and cutting a half an onion. I saute the yarrow with the onion until the onion is translucent, then add the eggs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a spatula, scrape the pan frequently to move the cooked eggs away from the pan surface, allowing the raw egg to move down. Serve hot, with toast and violet jam.

Salad Garnishes

Edible Flowers in Salad | CHEFS Mix

I absolutely adore using spring buds as garnishes for desserts, pasta dishes and even cottage cheese. I sometimes freeze them in ice cubes and use them to liven up my spring cocktails. However, spicing up a salad is simple when you know what flowers you can use to enhance the flavor and look of your greens. Some examples include carnations, basil flowers, apple blossoms and day lilies. Personally, I like using carnations or day lilies because they come in a variety of colors, so I can add a mixture of hues or stick with one color scheme.

My personal favorite is arugula and baby spinach topped with basil flowers and Parmesan cheese with a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Other fun and flavorful combinations include red leaf lettuce and day lilies, mixed greens with carnations or radicchio, endive and apple blossoms.

Know the FlowersEdible Flowers Quick Reference | CHEFS Mix

  • Proper identification of edible flowers is important. Consult proper authorities or reference guides when unsure about the species or edibleness of a flower. If in doubt, no not take the risk*. For the best flavor, use flowers that are at their peak and are grown without pesticides.
  • If you are prone to allergies, introduce flowers in small amounts so you can judge their effect. Some have a much more pronounced flavor than others, so you’ll need to judge accordingly.
  • Asthmatics or others who suffer allergic reactions to composite-type flowers (calendula, chicory, chrysanthemum, daisy, English daisy, and marigold) should be on alert for possible allergic reaction.

Edible flowers

Common name

Tastes like




May be skin allergen to some individuals. Good with fish and the stems are especially popular candied.

Anise hyssop

Sweet, anise, licorice



Eat in moderation; may contain cyanide precursors.


Nutty, spicy, peppery


Herbal, different varieties have mild lemon, mint, etc., flavors

Bee balm

Minty, sweet, hot

Used in place of bergamot to make a tea with a flavor similar to earl grey tea.


Herbal, light cucumber flavor


Herbal, mild cucumber flavor


Saffron, spicy, tangy, peppery

Adds a golden hue to foods


Spicy, peppery, clove-like


Faint apple flavor

Good as a tea



Buds can be pickled.


Onion, Garlic variety will have a garlic-onion flavor.

Avoid eating whole flower, taste can be overwhelming


Slight to bitter flavor, pungent

Use the florets


Waxy, pungent

Use sparingly as an edible garnish, good for making citrus waters



Raw flower heads can be difficult to digest.


Pungent, some describe the flavor as soapy

A prime ingredient in salsa and many Latino and Oriental dishes.


Sweet to spicy, clove-like


Young flowers are sweet and honey-like. Mature flowers are more bitter.

Very young buds fried in butter taste similar to mushrooms. Makes a potent wine.

Day lily

Vegetal, sweet

Many lilies (lillium species) contain alkaloids and are not edible. Day lilies may act as a laxative. Remove the narrow base of the petals, as it will be bitter.


Herbal, fresh

Pairs nicely with lemon and is often used with fish and poultry

English daisy**

Raw flowers will be mildly bitter. Cooked flowers will be vegetal and tangy.


Sweet, mild anise or licorice flavor



Slightly acidic


Slightly sweet




Slightly acidic, fruity

Boiled and steeps makes a nice tea or iced beverage. Showy edible garnish



Showy edible garnish

Honeysuckle: japanese


Berries are highly poisonous. Do not use other honeysuckle flowers.


From no flavor to herbaceous

Jasmine: arabian

Delicate, sweet flavor


Bland to sweet, minty flavor

Contains saponins and may be toxic in large amounts.


Sweet, perfumed flavor

Lavender oil may be poisonous. Use sparingly due to intense flavor.

Lemon verbena


Boiled and steeped makes a nice tea


From no flavor or green and herbaceous, to lemony and floral

Mallow: common

Sweet, delicate flavor


Spicy to bitter

Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem have the best flavor



Different varietals have unique flavors




Eating in large amounts may cause red skin blotches.


Spicy, peppery, mildly pungent

Buds are often pickled and used like capers.



Similar to squash blossoms


Very mild sweet to tart flavor


Milder, sweeter version of the more familiar radish heat


Mildly sweet

Tastes like:

Red clover


Raw clover flowers are not easily digestible


Sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor

Remove the bitter white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible.



Runner bean

Nectar, bean-like






Bland to bitter flavor

Squash blossom

Sweet, nectar flavor


Flower is best eaten in bud stage when it has an artichoke flavor; petals of open flowers have a bitter- sweet flavor

Lightly steam petals to lessen bitterness. Unopened flower buds can be steamed like artichokes.





Sweet, perfumed

(Sources: homecooking.about.com; NC State University)

*Know the risks: While we have done our best to make sure all the sources and information are correct, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives from this list do so entirely at their own risk. Neither the editors or CHEFS Catalog can be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers.  

**Considered a composite flower. Only the petals of these flowers are edible. Chances for allergic reaction may be higher with these edible flowers due to high pollen content. Composite flowers should not be consumed by those with asthma or other sensitivities.

Your Turn: What edible flowers to you use in the kitchen?

Tell us what you think...

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s