Edible flowers guide



It is surprising how many flowers growing in our gardens are edible. Edible flowers have been used for years in cooking or as decorations for various dishes. The Chinese were the first to experiment with flowers as food and their many and varied recipes can be traced back as far back as 3,000 B.C. In Roman times, the edible flowers of pinks, violets and roses were used in dishes and lavender in sauces. Gardeners and cooks over 1000 years ago were already using pot marigolds and orange blossom in their cooking. Today many fine restaurants around the UK and indeed the world are using more and more edible flowers to enhance salads with their colour, texture and intriguing flavours, as well as for decoration on appetisers, starters, cakes and many other dishes.

It is always best to grow your own edible flowers, and then you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease. The majority of edible flowers are always best picked fresh from the garden the day you want to use them. Growing your own also allows you to experiment and show off to dinner guests both what you have grown and what you've created with a colourful and tasty dish. As with any food and salad preparation always maintain good personal hygiene and practices.

Even if you are not keen on experimenting with salads or sauces, edible flowers make excellent garnishes which, unlike some 'decorations' which appear in the guise of nouvelle cuisine, are actually nice to eat. Furthermore, as in Roman times, the flower garden becomes a treasure chest of delicately flavoured treats to scatter on your salads or to add a 'touch of class' to your culinary endeavours.

Disclaimer: Thompson & Morgan has researched all the edible flowers listed below. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. Thompson & Morgan always recommends following good hygiene practices. Thompson & Morgan cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction to the flowers. In case of doubt, please consult your doctor.

Common Name Botanical Name Edible Tip Edible warning
Agastache Agastache anisata, Agastache foeniculum Both flowers and leaves have a delicate, fragrant taste. They are ideal for adding to cakes for a hint of anise flavour, or add the leaves and flowers to whipping cream for a creamy, liquorice flavour. If you are pregnant, be sure to research possible contraindications to using this herb.
Apple / Crab Apple Malus domestica, Malus x robusta, Malus x zumi Apple blossoms have a slightly floral taste and the petals are lovely in salads. Infuse petals in whipped cream or ice cream to go over an apple tart. Blossoms look attractive when floated in a fruit punch.
Basil Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum minimum, Ocimum x citriodorum Flowers can be used as a substitute for leaves in any dish requiring basil. The flowers should be used more sparingly due to their very intense flavour. Delicious added to salads, soups or pasta.
Begonia Begonia x tuberhybrida The brightly coloured flowers have a delicious light, lemon taste and a crisp texture. Use snipped petals as a garnish in salads and sandwiches or dip whole petals in flavoured yogurt and serve as an appetizer. Only tuberous begonia petals are edible. The petals contain oxalic acid and therefore should only be eaten in moderation and should not be consumed by individuals suffering from gout, kidney stones or rheumatism.
Biennial Clary Salvia sclarea Flowers have a very aromatic flavour and being pastel shades, make a lovely contrast when added to salads.
Borage Borago officinalis Mix flowers into vegetable and fruit salads, or use to garnish soups or to decorate desserts. An excellent choice for freezing in ice cubes and floating on iced tea. Petals have a cucumber taste and the stamens add a hint of sweetness. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid borage flowers, as more than eight to ten flowers can cause milk to flow. They can also have a diuretic effect, so should not be eaten in great quantity.
Busy Lizzie Impatiens walleriana The flowers come in many colours and look attractive used as a garnish in salads or floated in cold drinks.
Cape Jasmine Gardenia jasminoides These extremely fragrant blooms can be used to make pickles, preserves and jams, or shredded and added as flavouring to cakes.
Dianthus/ Carnation/ Pinks Dianthus amurensis, Dianthus barbatus, Dianthus caryophyllus, Dianthus chinensis, Dianthus deltoides, Dianthus plumarius, Dianthus superbus Most dianthus have a pleasant spicy, floral, clove-like taste, especially the more fragrant varieties, and are ideal for decorating or adding to cakes. They'll also make a colourful garnish to soups, salads and the punch bowl. The petals of Sweet Williams will add zest to ice cream, sorbets, salads, fruit salad, dessert sauces, seafood and stir-fries. It is advisable to remove the white heel at the base of the petal as this has a bitter taste.
Catmint Nepeta cataria The small flowers have an aromatic, strong mint/spice flavour so should be used sparingly when cooking. Ideal for adding a bit of bite to pasta or rice dishes and all types of vegetables. Also makes a tasty complement to meat dishes like lamb. Nepeta is not recommended to eat during pregnancy.
Chicory, Raddichio Cichorium intybus The fresh flowers have a mild lettuce flavour and make a decorative addition to salads, whilst flower buds can be pickled. Picked blooms look attractive frozen in ice cubes and added to drinks. Contact with all parts of this plant can irritate the skin or aggravate skin allergies
Chives/ Chinese Chives Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum Chive flowers have a mild onion flavour and are surprisingly crunchy. They are widely used tossed in salads, pasta, omelettes and scrambled eggs. Or you can add a few to white fish dishes or to cheese sauce to give that extra bite. As tempting it may be to pop the whole flower into your mouth, refrain from doing so as the pungency in that quantity can be overwhelming. For garnish and cooking break the flower into individual florets.
Citrus Trees Citrus aurantium, Citrus limon, Citrus x latifolia Citrus flowers are overwhelming in scent and flavour and go really well with many different foods from stir-fries to puddings. They are also ideal for crystallising and decorating cakes or desserts.
Coriander Coriandrum sativum The flowers are as adaptable as the leaves in a variety of different dishes. Scatter over cauliflower, add to the end of a stir-fry or add to cream cheese. Scatter a few flowers over an orange fruit salad, as the flavour of the flowers will
Cornflower Centaurea cyanus These attractive flowers have no fragrance but do have a sweet-to-spicy clove-like flavour. They are ideal for mixing with other flowers to make attractive confetti for sprinkling over salads, omelettes, and pasta dishes. Or they can be used on their own as a colourful garnish.
Courgette Cucurbita pepo All squash flowers have a slightly sweet 'nectar' taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings, battered and deep fried or sautéed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelettes, scrambled egg or used to add colour to salads.
Daisy Bellis perennis Pull flowers apart for a mass of small quill petals ideal for creating a colourful garnish on desserts or soups, in salads or with savoury dishes. Also make useful decorations for cakes, biscuits, mousses and pâtés. If you have hay fever, asthma or severe allergies, you should avoid eating flowers of the daisy family because they could trigger an allergic reaction.
Daylily Hemerocallis Day lily petals are great in salads, hot and cold soups, cooked and served as a vegetable or chopped and added to stir-fries. Try sautéing the buds or flowers, which can then be stuffed with almost any filling. Only hemerocallis, the 'Day Lily' can be eaten. Do not eat other types of lilies (Lillium) as they are poisonous.
Dill Anethum graveolens Add flowers to fish dishes, omelettes or sprinkle over cooked vegetables. Add whole flowers to pickled gherkins, cucumbers or beetroots for a milder flavour than dill seed.
Evening Primrose, Ozark Sundrops Oenothera macrocarpa, Oenothera odorata, Oenothera versicolor, Oenothera speciosa, Oenothera missouriensis The flowers have a similar taste to lettuce, so will make a fine addition to any green salad whilst also adding some colour.
Feijoa sellowiana The flower petals have a flavour often described as being similar to that of candyfloss. The petals are ideal added to a fruit salad, smoothie, milkshake or an iced drink. The fruits can also be used in chutneys and tropical fruit salads.
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare The mild anise/liquorice flavour combines well with fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Delicious added to cucumber or potato soup. Make fennel flower oil and use to baste pork chops on a barbecue.
Filipendula ulmaria The sweetly scented flowers can be eaten in salads or added to homemade wine.
Fuchsia The stunning colours and graceful shape of fuchsias make them ideal as a green or fruit salad garnish. They look very decorative if crystallised or inserted into jelly. The berries are also edible and useful for making jams. Before eating the flower remove all green and brown bits and gently remove the stamen pistils as this will certainly enhance the petal flavour.
Garland Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum coronarium Petals are best quickly and lightly fried in vegetable oil before adding to soups, salads and stir-fries. Use the strongly spicy flavoured flowers sparingly in salads or when making Japanese Chrysanthemum soup. Only chrysanthemum coronarium should be eaten; it is not advisable to eat other types of chrysanthemum.
Gladiolus Flowers taste similar to lettuce, and make a lovely receptacle for sweet or savoury spreads or mousses. You could also toss individual petals in salads for colour. It is best to must remove the anthers, take the middle of the blossom out before eating/ using.
Hibiscus Infuse the flowers to make a popular, mildly citrus-flavoured tea. Add strips of vibrant coloured petals to fruit salads. It is best to use the petals from the flower heads. If you use them whole, beware of the pollen.
Hollyhock Alcea rosea The flowers can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, mousses and roulades or try mixing them with salad leaves for a stunning dish. Flowers can also be used to make a subtly flavoured syrup to add to various puddings. Before eating, remove the centre stamen and any green bits.
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis Ideal for adding to soups or salads, or can be infused to make a refreshing tea. Hyssop also makes a perfect complement to fish and meat dishes.
Japanese Basil Perilla frutescens The whole flower can be eaten, adding a spicy flavour to stir-fries, chicken or fish dishes.
Jasmine Jasminum officinale The flowers are intensely fragrant and are traditionally used for scenting tea, but can also be added to shellfish dishes. Only jasmine officinale is edible. The false Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a completely different genus and is considered too poisonous for human consumption.
Lavender Lavandula multifida, Lavandula stoechas, Lavandula angustifolia There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savoury dishes. Make a delicious lavender sugar and add to biscuits, sorbets, jams or jellies. Add flowers to vegetable stock and create a tasty sauce for duck, chicken or lamb dishes. Lavender oil may be poisonous. No more than two undiluted drops should be taken internally.
Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis The flowers are small, so are ideal for adding to salad dressings or soups. They can also be added to stuffing for poultry dishes too.
Lilac Syringa vulgaris Mix fresh fragrant flowers with a little cream cheese and serve on crackers or stir flowers into yogurt to add a hint of lemon. Also useful as a garnish for cakes, scones or sweets.
Marigold Tagetes patula, Tagetes tenuifolia, Tagetes patula x erecta The flowers and leaves have a citrus taste, making them ideal for adding to salads, sandwiches, seafood dishes or hot desserts. Marigolds may be harmful in large amounts. They should only be eaten occasionally and in moderation.
Marrow Cucurbita pepo All squash flowers have a slightly sweet nectar taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings , battered and deep fried or sauteed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelettes, scrambled egg or add colour to salads.
Mint / Pennyroyal Mint Mentha x piperita, Mentha pulegium, Mentha suaveolens, Mentha x gracilis, Mentha spicata These tiny flowers pack a real punch and add that something extra to green salads, fruit salads, fresh strawberries, chocolate mousse or chocolate cake. Can also be used to decorate and flavour lamb dishes.
Monarda/ Bergamot Monarda citriodora subsp. Astromontana, Monarda didyma As well as being colourful, the petals have a sweet, spicy flavour and will enhance salads, jellies and stuffings, rice and pasta dishes. Fresh or dried leaves can be used to make delicious bergamot tea. Before using the flowers, only give them a minimal rinse with water so as not to diminish the fragrance.
Mooli Radish Raphanus sativus The radish flowers flavour is a milder version of the spicy root, making it ideal to add colour to the top of a salad or sprinkle over cooked vegetables to add a little spice.
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus, Tropaeolum minus The fresh leaves and flowers have a peppery flavour similar to watercress. The flowers will add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into capers. Try them combined with cream cheese or butter in canapés, or in a cheese and tomato sandwich. Flowers can also be used to garnish steaks or casseroles.
Onion (Welsh/Spring) Allium fistulosum Onion flowers offer an onion flavour, without the bite of an onion bulb. These are ideal for tossing in a salad or for mixing in with vegetables.
Oregano Origanum vulgare Wonderful added to tomato dishes, pizza and when making your own bread. Flowers can also be added to butter for flavour.
Ornamental Kale Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) The leaves can be picked while still young and will make a tasty and colourful addition to salads.
Pansy Viola x wittrockiana Flowers have a lettuce-like flavour and make a decorative addition to a green salad or to garnish a pâté or dessert. They can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes, cookies or creamy desserts.
Pea Pisum sativum Flowers are slightly sweet and, surprisingly enough, taste like young peas. Delicious added to salads. Use candied flowers to decorate fish dishes or cakes. The shoots and vine tendrils are also edible and have the same delicate, pea-like flavour. Only vegetable pea flowers can be eaten, not sweet pea flowers which are toxic.
Perennial Phlox Phlox paniculata These flowers have a slightly spicy taste. Great added to fruit salads and a colourful addition to any floral salad. As the flowers are small and colourful they are superb when crystallised and added as decoration to cakes or desserts. It is only this perennial phlox, not the annual, or the low-growing (creeping) phlox that is edible.
Polyanthus, Cowslip, Primrose, Primula Primula, Primula vulgaris, Primula veris, Primula hybrida Popular as a garnish on salads. Remove the stalks so they sit open-faced on top of lettuce, cress etc. Crystallise or use in pancakes or cakes. Sprinkle fresh polyanthus blossoms in salads, adding a touch of colour and a sweet taste. Flowers can be crystallised and used as decorations, making them ideal for special cakes and desserts, for example on Mothering Sunday or at Easter.
Poppy Papaver somniferum, Papaver paeoniflorum All poppies are poisonous, however the seeds that are produced from these species of poppy can be eaten. All poppies are poisonous. However the seeds produced from Papaver somniferum and Papaver paeoniflorum can be eaten. The seeds of other species are not edible.
Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis Calendulas have a slightly peppery taste and will add a light, tangy flavour to breads and soups, as well as adding a touch of colour. They will make a bright and tasty addition to a tossed salad. You can use fresh or dried petals as an economical substitute for saffron for adding colour to rice or butter. The fresh young leaves can also be used sparingly in salads.
Pumpkin Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo All squash flowers have a slightly sweet nectar taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings, battered and deep fried or sauteed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelets, scrambled egg or add colour to salads.
Living Greens/ Microgreens/ Purple Radish Raphanus sativus The flavour of radish flowers is a milder version of the spicy root, making it ideal to add colour to the top of a salad or sprinkle over cooked vegetables to add a little spice.
Rocket Eruca vesicaria, Diplotaxis muralis, Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa The flowers and the leaves have a spicy, peppery flavour, and are delicious added to a salad, rice or sprinkled over cooked French beans. Add whole flowers to taramasalata and serve with brown toast.
Rose Rosa As a general rule if a rose smells good, it will taste good. Petals have a delicate flavour which will improve cool drinks and fruit dishes, or why not try rose petal jam? Rosehips and petals can both be used in jellies. If the flowers are crystallised, they will make attractive cake decorations. It is best to remove the white heel from the base of the petals before eating.
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary flowers and leaves can be used with poultry or pork - try adding a few flowers to biscuit dough to add flavour.
Runner Bean Phaseolus coccineus Flowers can be eaten raw in salads, adding a mild bean flavour with a hint of nectar, or add to cooked runner bean dishes for decoration. Only scarlet-flowered runner beans are recommended for eating.
Sage Salvia officinalis The flowers taste similar to the leaves and make a vibrant contribution to salads and pâtés, mustards and vinaigrettes.
Salsify Tragopogon porrifolius Usually grown for its nutty flavoured roots, but the young leaves are tasty in salads adding a mild nutty flavour. The flower buds should be picked just before they open with about three inches of stem attached. They can be lightly simmered and then eaten when cold in salads or as a garnish.
Scented pelargoniums Geranium clorinda, Geranium fragrans, Geranium graveolens, Geranium quercifolia, Geranium tomentosum The leaves have a powerful citrus fragrance and will add flavour to cakes and meringue roulades. The flowers have a faint citrus flavour similar to the leaves and are ideal crystallised and scattered on desserts.
Squash Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima All squash flowers have a slightly sweet nectar taste. These can be stuffed with cheeses and other fillings , battered and deep fried or sauteed and added to pasta. Thinly sliced blossoms can be added to soups, omelets, scrambled egg or add colour to salads.
Strawberry Fragaria x ananassa, Fragaria vesca The flowers retain their strawberry fragrance as well as a milder strawberry flavour. Float petals in drinks, add to salads or candy them and add to desserts for decoration.
Sunflower Helianthus annuus The buds, petals and seeds are all edible. Add the petals to a green salad for a colour contrast and a mild nutty taste. The green buds can be blanched, then tossed in garlic butter; they are similar in flavour to a Jerusalem artichoke. The kernels inside the seeds can be eaten raw or toasted as a snack.
Sweet Cicely Myrrhis odorata The sweet anise-flavoured flowers are lovely added to apple, plum or rhubarb tarts.
Sweet Mace Tagetes lucida Use the flowers of this attractive plant in salads and its leaves in soups and stews much like French tarragon.
Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana Combines well with all chicken dishes and many fish recipes. Can also be made into a flavoursome hot tea.
Sweet Rocket Hesperis matronalis This combines well with all chicken dishes and many fish recipes. Can also be made into a flavoursome hot tea.
Tulip Tulipa Tulip petals have a sweet, pea-like flavour and a tender crisp texture. Try stuffing whole flowers with a shrimp or chicken salad. Add strips of petals to salads or sandwiches for that added touch of colour. Carefully remove pollen and stigmas from the base of the flower before stuffing. Some people have had strong allergic reactions to tulips. If touching them causes a rash, numbness etc. - Don't eat them! Don't ever eat the bulbs. If you have any doubts, don't eat the flower.
Viola Viola cornuta, Viola hybrida, Viola tricolor, Viola x williamsiana, Viola odorata Flowers have a lettuce-like flavour and make a decorative addition to a green salad or to garnish a pâté or dessert. They can be crystallised and used on cakes, cookies or creamy desserts.
Yucca The white yucca flower petals have a crunchy, mildly sweet taste with a hint of artichoke flavour. Delicious added to salads or used as a garnish.

Edible flower recipes

Here are just a few of the many ways you can include flowers in your meals.

1
Close overlay and continue

We value your opinion

Leave quick feedback Or Complete our survey