We all love to admire the beauty of flowers. But did you know that many flowers are not only edible, they're also healing? The culinary use of flowers is thousands of years old, dating back to Ancient China, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. There are hundreds of edible flowers and countless which have healing properties. Did you know that echinacea, the natural remedy you've probably taken for a cold, is actually a beautiful flower?
However tempting, please do not begin picking flowers off your neighbor's lawn just yet. It's important to do research into the specific varieties you're considering picking as some that look edible may just be a close cousin to a poisonous variety. In addition, it's important to make sure that the flowers you pick were not sprayed with harmful pesticides as most commercial flowers and some lawns are blanketed with a large amount of toxic pesticides.
Tips for Safely Eating Flowers:
- Reference a book on edible flowers to check the flower you're considering eating.
- Grow your own flowers. In this way, you'll be able to make sure there won't be any harmful pesticides on it.
- Avoid picking flowers in public parks or by the road, as these likely have been treated with herbicides or pesticides and have been exposed to exhaust from cars.
- Make sure to wash the flowers before eating.
- Eat only the petals (unless you've verified other parts are safe to eat).
- Eat a small amount first to see how your body reacts. Gradually increase the amount if your body reacts positively.
Here are 10 edible flowers with healing benefits that you should try:
You've probably seen dandelions in your backyard, in fields, and even peeking through the sidewalks in urban areas. Dandelions grow in rural and urban environments. Though technically considered a weed, these flowers have a great amount of healing power.
An anti-inflammatory and diuretic, these flowers are used for treating a wide variety of ailments included appetite loss, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, acne, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is used to increase urine production and as a laxative to treat constipation. It is also used as skin toner, blood tonic, and digestive tonic. Some people even use dandelion to treat infection, especially viral infections, and cancer.
Ways to Eat:
In foods, dandelion can be eaten raw on its own but is most often used as salad greens, and in soups, wine, and teas. Dandelion has a bitter taste, but can have a sweet taste when picked young. The roasted root can be used as a coffee substitute.
Lotuses are native to regions spanning from Vietnam to Afghanistan. It has been an important source of food since ancient times. The Asian Lotus has since been brought to all tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Its flowers, seeds, leaves and roots are all edible and popular throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia, and India.
The American lotus is also edible and was an important native food resource in the Colonial era. It is native to Mexico, Honduras, the southeastern U.S., and the West Indies but has been spread farther by people.
Lotus roots have a high amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and dietary fiber. fiber and complex carbohydrates. The combination of the fiber and complex carbohydrate of the lotus root help manage the body’s cholesterol and blood sugar Lotus flowers are known to be used in traditional medicines. They help blood clot, and help thirst and inflammation. Lotus seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine to stop diarrhea. They also are anti inflammatory, and can help treat high blood pressure, asthma, and cough symptoms.
Ways to Eat:
The roots are the most popular part of the lotus to eat. It is often used in Asian cuisine, sliced and roasted in soups or fried in curries or stews. They can be eaten raw, although it is risky depending on where it was grown as it may contract parasites. Lotus flowers are used to garnish dishes. They are thought to have moderate psychoactive properties and are often used in making alcoholic beverages.
Roses are symbolic and meaningful to many. They are associated with feelings with love and beauty. Most species of rose are native to Asia, with a few native to North America, Europe and the Northwest of Africa. They are now popularly grown commercially in South America, especially in Ecuador.
Rose petals smooth skin, help gums, dry out excess mucus, relieve indigestion, bloating, and congestion in the chest, balance out menstruation that isn’t happening or isn’t following a regular pattern, and help feelings of depression. Rose hips, which are the fruit of the rose flower, are very healing. They can help with frequent urination, diarrhea, and skin care. They have some of the highest contents of vitamin C of all medicinal plants, which helps with colds, allergies, flu and cough.
Ways to Eat:
Roses petals can be baked in cakes, used as a garnish, or made into a tea. They can also be made into an oil, infused in honey, turned into syrup or jam, or candied. It can be steeped to make rose water and frozen into ice cubes with water to add to a drink. Rose hips can be made into teas, jellies, sauces, soups and seasonings.
The vibrant blue cornflower is native to Europe and has now been spread to other regions of the world. Historically, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the color of the flower faded too fast, it was a sign that the man's love was not returned.
The cornflower reduces anxiety, and is good for relaxation. It has a calming effect on the nervous system so it helps those suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other nervous system disorders. It contains biotin that helps in strengthening the nails, prevents and treats nail infections, and treats hair problems like dandruff. Cornflowers help eye irritation and treat problems like sore eyes and conjunctivitis. Cornflower tea is used as an eye wash to relieve swelling and pain. Cornflower is used to treat wounds, cuts, and mouth sores. The flowers are used as an expectorant, diuretic, and stimulant for gall bladder and liver function, and also help with kidney function.
Ways to Eat:
The cornflower can be eaten raw in a salad as a colorful decoration, mixed into muffins, or dried into a relaxing tea blend. They can also be dried with peppercorns into a dried pepper blend for seasoning.
The beautiful hibiscus flower often makes us think of tropical beaches and lush areas. It grows in tropical climates ranging from Jamaica and Hawaii to India.
Hibiscus contains antioxidants that help prevent cholesterol deposits and helps with liver disorders. It has been proven to lower high blood pressure, and helps with circulation. Hibiscus is also used for treating colds, loss of appetite, upper respiratory pain, inflammation, fluid retention, heart and nerve diseases, stomach problems, as a gentle laxative and as a diuretic to increase urine output.
Ways to Eat:
Around the world, Hibiscus flowers are eaten cooked, raw, pickled, as a spice, or even as a food dye. The flowers are the most used part of the hibiscus plant in cooking. In China, flower petals are baked in cakes, and in countries like India, Cambodia, Tahiti and Mexico they are boiled with sugar into a sweet, iced tea drink.
Honeysuckle flowers are native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species that have been identified, around 100 in China, 20 in North America, 20 in India, and 20 in Europe. Hummingbirds are attracted to the sweet nectar of the honeysuckle.
Different varieties of honeysuckle have different healing benefits. The Japanese Honeysuckle has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat issues ranging from the flu, infections, depression and tick bites, to blood problems and gout. It can help relieve respiratory problems and soothe the stomach and colon. The petals have antioxidant properties which can help protect against chronic diseases. Honeysuckle is used for digestive disorders including dysentery and pain and inflammation of the small intestines. It is also used to treat headaches, arthritis, diabetes, urinary disorders, and cancer. Some people even use it to treat constipation, to counteract poisoning, and for birth control.
Ways to Eat:
The flower petals of the honeysuckle can be made into a pudding or syrup, giving a sweet honey-like flavor. It can also be made into a tea or tincture for medicinal benefit. To eat the nectar of the honeysuckle, first pull off the bottom green part that holds the petals together. Then, you'll see the tail of a “string” and you need to slowly pull it out from the petals. At the end of this string you will find nectar. You can lick and enjoy the sweetness! Do not eat the berries, stem, or leaves of the honeysuckle as they are in fact very poisonous.
The elderflower grows in temperate to subtropical regions mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, only growing in a few areas in the Southern Hemisphere. They often grow near farms and homesteads. In folklore, the elder tree was supposed protect from evil influence and witches, while other say that witches often gathered together under the plant, especially when it was full of fruit.
Elderflowers are rich in antioxidants, and the elderflower berries boost the immune system and fight the flu. elderflower is used to treat sinusitis, colds, bronchitis, and diabetes. It can also treat constipation, increase urine production, reduce inflammation, and stop bleeding. As a mouthwash, elderflowers can be used to treat laryngitis and shortness of breath.
Ways to Eat:
Elderflowers and their berries can be cooked into a variety of dishes. The flowers can be infused into honey and be added to flavor drinks. The flowers can also be baked into cakes and fruit tarts, dipped in a light batter and fried, or made into the popular elderflower cordial drink.
8. Tree Peony
This beautiful flower is native to China, but can now be seen as the centerpiece of gorgeous flower arrangements around the world, especially in North America and Europe.
The tree peony has a wide variety of medicinal benefits. The bark is widely used in Chinese medicine to treat hypertension, chest pain, fever, muscle cramping and spasms. It is an anti-inflammatory, and can be used to increase urine production. It can also be used as a remedy for female reproductive conditions ranging from dysmenorrhea to irregular menses. Peony bark is also very beneficial for those with high cholesterol or diabetes. This flower has one of the highest concentrations of phenolic compounds, which are anti-inflammatory and may reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as heart disease.
Ways to Eat:
Tree peony can be added fresh to salads or you can boil the petals and make a tea. In China, the petals are often used to make thick soups or to garnish other dishes. The petals can even be used to distill wine and liquer, which is said to have a mellow taste.
The beautiful violet, in the Viola family, is mostly found in the Northern Hemisphere, though some are also found in areas from Hawaii, to the Andes and Australia. On and around Violet day in Australia and New Zealand, violets and badges with them were sold to fundraise for the commemoration of the lost soldiers of World War I. In the 1950s, violets were used by lesbian women to show their love for other women.
Violets host a variety of healing benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, can help with headaches, relieve pain, and have been known to help patients with insomnia. Violas and violets have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for respiratory ailments. Topically, the oil extract has been known to even help with eczema. In a double blind study, it has been shown that violets can help cough suppression in children with asthma.
Ways to Eat:
Violets are eaten in a variety of ways. They can be crystallized in sugar as a garnish on dessert, tossed decoratively on salads, made into a syrup, added to fruit salads, dried into a tea, or grilled with seasonal vegetables. The French are known for their violet syrup, which is made from violet extract, and used to flavor marshmallows and scones.
Feverfew, in the Chrysanthemum family, is a medicinal herb that has been grown for thousands of years. It is originally from the Balkans and the Anatolian peninsula, but has now been spread throughout the world. The earliest writings about feverfew date back to the first century AD, where the Greek herbalist physician Dioscorides used it as an anti-inflammatory. Even the word feverfew derives from the Latin world febrifugia which means fever reducer.
Feverfew is not only good for treating migraines, it may also prevent them too. Some research using different feverfew products shows that taking feverfew orally can reduce the amount of migraine headaches and reduce nausea, vomiting, pain, and sensitivity to noise and light. Feverfew has also been used to reduce fever and to treat digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension, and arthritis.
Ways to Eat:
The little daisy-like flowers of the feverfew can make a delicious and healthy herbal tea. It is particularly delicious when mixed with mint and rosemary. Feverfew leaves can be eaten raw when chopped up and put in salad or a sandwich. They taste pretty bitter so you might find adding a bit of sugar or honey can help.
There are countless delicious edible flowers out there that can have powerful healing benefits. To see what is right for you, please consult a flower encyclopedia and your doctor or naturopathic healer. Below are some flower encyclopedias you can use to find safe and healing flowers to pick:
- The Practitioner's Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies: The Definitive Guide to All Flower Essences, their Making and Uses
Please share your thoughts and any delicious flower recipes you have in the comments section below!