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Eating flowers seems almost heretical. If plants could talk, wouldn’t they say, you can look, even sniff, but please don’t chow down on my pretty petals? The dainty apple flower, after all, is what gives way to the fruit, and thus the seed, ensuring the cycle of life continues. Do you dare give into the temptation to pluck it for food?
Many a chef certainly has. But most folks are clueless to the vast array of edible flowers. Apple blossoms, for example, impart a delicate floral flavor to fruit salads, along with a heavenly aroma. With many herbs, the flowers taste just like the leaf—chive flowers are a colorful way to infuse salad dressing with a garlic flavor.
On the other hand, some flowers are technically edible, but unpleasantly acrid. Chrysanthemums, for example, or begonias. One reference describes the flavor of wax begonias as slightly bitter with “a hint of swamp.”
A word of warning before we get on to our list of edibles: Exercise caution when using flowers in the kitchen; many are poisonous. Those daffodils in your perennial border could cause nausea, diarrhea, itchiness, stupor, convulsions, or even death, depending on how much you eat. (In almost all cases it’s not just the flower that’s poisonous, it’s the entire plant.) Below, you’ll fine a list of safe-to-consume flowers that we think you’ll enjoy, with a few thoughts on how to grow and use them. And if you’re ever unsure, here’s a list of common poisonous plants whose flowers you never want to ingest.