Edible and poisonous flowers

The table below contains a selection of the more commonly grown, or more interesting, edible flowers. It’s not exhaustive – do let us know if we’ve left out any of your favourites. And do make sure you are 100% confident in your plant identification before you eat any flowers - see here for details of how to choose and use edible flowers safely.

A list of poisonous flowers to be avoided also appears below the edible list.

Edible flowers

Apple/Crab Apple
Malus spp
Apple blossom is one of the most beautiful in spring and, used sparingly, will add a wonderful floral scent and flavour to salads. The petals can also be infused in syrup to use in or on an apple tart for example. 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 pie.
Basil, all varieties
Ocimum basilicum
Basil flowers taste like the leaves, so lemon basil flowers = citrus; holy basil flowers = clove and anise. The flowers are small and highly decorative.
Scatter over tomato salads and use in salad dressings.
Monarda spp
Not to be confused with the citrus fruit bergamot, this perennial herb has slim-petalled red flowers with a concentrated burst of sweet-spice flavour.
Borago officinalis
Both the flowers and leaves have a mild cucumber flavour – I find the leaves coarse-textured and much prefer the flowers. Freeze these into ice cubes and add to Pimms.
Has a reputation as a diuretic   and should be avoided by pregnant women.
Busy Lizzie
Impatiens walleriana
Attractive flat petalled flowers –use for garnish and visual appeal as the flavour is not strong.
Calendula officinalis
Used as an alternative to saffron with the same colour effects. 
Chamaemelum nobile
Floral appley flavour – we used camomile flower at the Secret Garden Club.
Dianthus caryophyllus
Distinct clove flavour to the petals.
Nepeta cataria
Intense minty flavour – good   infused in lamb gravy in lieu of mint sauce.
Should be avoided by pregnant women.
Chicory, Radicchio
Cichorium intybus
Fresh lettuce flavour, good in   salads.
Chives/Garlic Chives
Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum,
A favourite edible flower: crunchy texture and a delicate allium flavour. Separate out the petals and scatter over potato or tomato salads, use in omelettes or scrambled egg – see recipe here.
Citrus Trees
Citrus aurantium, Citrus limon
Lemon and orange flowers can be successfully crystallised to decorate cakes and sweets. Highly fragranced and flavoured – try infusing in a classic rice puddings, or topping a lemon drizzle cake with some of the waxy petals.  
Clary sage
Salvia sclarea
Aromatic and beautiful flowers look stunning against a green salad.
Common mallow
Malva sylvestris
Mild flavoured petals best used for visual appeal.
Coriandrum sativum
The flowers have a bitter similar orange-clove flavour as the leaves and seeds – can be used to garnish vegetables and gratins, or over salads.
Centaurea cyanus
The deep blue of the petals makes a great contrast with many foods – scattered over creamy pasta for example. We use spicy clove tasting cornflower petals as a bed for sage leaf tempura at the Secret Garden Club.
Cucurbita pepo
A classic edible flower, traditionally stuffed with cheese or herby breadcrumbs and deep-fried.  With a baby courgette still attached to the flower, this makes a spectacular starter.  Tempura-style blossoms on their own are equally delicious.
Primula veris
Sweet-tasting, flowers will garnish and embellish salads. Can also be crystallised; cowslip wine is an old English drink.
Bellis perennis
The tiny pinkish-white petal make a confetti-like garnish for salads or scrambled egg. Use sparingly – they can taste bitter.
Taraxacum officinale
Only use young flowers, which are said to taste mushroom-like. Dandelion flower wine is a traditional drink.
Day Lily
Hemerocallis spp
The lily buds you see mentioned in Chinese menus are day lilies. Be very careful about plant identification – other lily varieties are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Day lilies on the other hand are sweet and crunchy and great in soups and stir-fries.
Use sparingly as they have a reputation as a laxative.
Dianthus (pinks)
Dianthus spp.
Sweet-spicy and floral tasting, the decorative petals of many dianthus varieties make a pleasing garnish for many dishes.
Anethum graveolens
Umbrella-like flowerheads with that distinctive anise taste. Use flowerheads whole in pickles, or chop up and add to salads. Good with egg dishes too.
Sambucus canadensis
Elderflower cordial, wine or champagne has a beautiful floral fragrance.
Evening Primrose
Oenothera spp
Bright yellow flowers with a fresh green flavour – good in salads.
Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel plants grow vigorously in a sunny site in the herb garden and will reward you with abundant aromatic flowerheads in high summer. Use in pickles, salads, in potato salad, also delicious with fish and meat, especially pork.
Note this is common fennel or herb fennel we’re talking about here rather than Florence fennel with its swollen bulb.
 Fuchsia spp
Petals are best used to enhance and garnish cakes, salads, jellies, ice cream, etc.
 Hibiscus spp
The dried flowers make a delicious cranberry/citrus flavoured tea. We welcomed guests to the Secret Garden Club with a hibiscus syrup flavoured champagne, complete with hibiscus flower in the base of the glass.
See here for our hibiscus salt recipe.
Alcea rosea
Another good candidate for crystallisation with large plentiful petals and strong colours. The flavour is very delicate – you might even say bland, so use for visual effect rather than for flavour.
Lonicera japonica
Each successive generation of  children discovers the fun of sucking nectar out of honeysuckle flowers.
Ensure you are 100% positive about plant identification – other honeysuckles are poisonous. Eat the petals only.
Jasminum officinale
Flowers are justly renowned for their fragrance and make a wonderfully restorative tea. 
Make sure you have Jasminum officinale. Other plants whose common names also include Jasmine such as Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) are toxic.
Lavandula spp
Versatile aromatic flower with all the distinctive flavour of the leaves. Make lavender sugar to use in jeliies, biscuits, cake icing, panna cotta and mousses. There are many ways to use lavender flowers, both in sweet or savoury dishes. Infused lavender flowers go beautifully with duck and veal.
Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis
Tiny flower which pack that lemon-mint flavour: good in syrups, salads and dressings.
Lemon Verbena
Aloysia citrodora
Heavenly lemon cologne fragrance; can be used highly effectively as lavender, above. Also makes a calming and restorative tea.
Syringa vulgaris
Strong citrus flavour and vibrant colour. See MsMarmiteLover’s lilac sugar from which you can make a heady perfumed syrup or sorbet.
Tagetes spp
Use sparingly for a spicy, citrus taste. Good with potatoes, potato salad, egg dishes.
Origanum majorana
Flowers are too tiny to pick over so use flowerheads whole.
Mentha spp
Just as there are many different mint flavours, so there are corresponding mint   flower tastes. Use mint flowers to garnish meat, scatter over steamed new potatoes, in salads, to decorate ice creams, or add to fruit salads.
Brassica spp
Spicy and mustardy white or yellow flowers.
Tropaeolum majus
A staple of the edible flower repertoire, nasturtiums are bright and beautiful with a peppery taste – and also plentiful in summer. The leaves add a peppery bite and succulence to salads, and the seedpods, pickled in cider vinegar, make a delicious alternative to capers.
Origanum vulgare
Wonderful added to tomato dishes, pizza and when making your own bread. Flowers can also be added to butter for flavour.
Pisum sativum
Both the flowers and the young shoots have a delicate nutty pea flavour.
Only eat flowers from vegetable peas – the flowers of sweet peas are poisonous.
Pelargonium (scented geranium, rose geranium, lemon geranium)
Pelargonium spp
The flavour of the flowers corresponds to the type of pelargonium. The leaves, although coarse-textured, are also edible.
Primula vulgaris
Delicate sweet flavour: the flowers look stunning on the plate, especially when adorning a creamy dessert. Fowers can be successfully crystallised.
Raphanus sativus
One reason not to worry too much if your radish plants bolt and flower before the roots swell. Radish flowers have the peppery taste of the root – add to salads or scatter over cooked vegetables for a spicy note.
Eruca vesicaria sativa
Delicate pale yellow flowers which taste slightly spicy, slightly bitter and have a hint of vanilla. Use in drinks and salads.
Rosa spp
The more fragrant the rose, the more delicious the petals. Add rose petals to syrups and drinks, or make your own rosewater and add this to jams and jellies. Crystallised flowers can also be used to decorate cakes, ice creams and desserts.
Rosmarinus officinalis
These beautiful small flowers have a mildly piney, rosemary flavour. Great with meat dishes, especially chicken, lamb or pork.
Runner Bean
Phaseolus coccineus
Only eat the scarlet flowers from runner beans, not the white-flowered variety.
The flowers have a sweetish, delicately beany flavour.
Salvia officinalis
Vibrant flowers which should be used sparingly – flavour corresponds to the type of sage, eg, pineapple sage flowers have a flavour redolent of pineapple, etc.
Salad burnet
Sanguisorba minor
Cucumber-flavoured flowers.
Perilla frutescens
Like the leaves, the flowers add spice with a hint of mint to stir-fries, soup garnishes or salads.
Squash, pumpkin flowers
Cucurbita pepo
Sturdier and slightly bitter tasting compared to courgette flowers so they stand up to stir-frying or deep-frying a little better.
Fragaria x ananassa
Flowers both smell and taste of strawberries – add to drinks and fruit salads.
Helianthus annuus
Sunflower buds can be simmered briefly in water and then eaten with melted butter – he taste is very like Jerusalem artichoke. In flower, the individual petals are edible and have a nutty flavour. Shell the seeds (which can be very laborious) for a wholesome snack.
Sweet Cicely
Myrrhis odorata
Anise flavoured flowers which go beautifully with fruit compotes.
Sweet woodruff
Galium odoratum
Sweet-flavoured flowers with a delicate vanilla, almost almond flavour.
Thymus vulgaris
Mild citrus flavour to the flowers.
Viola x wittrockiana
Sweet-flavoured flowers, and   when eaten with the sepals attached, faintly minty. Make a stunning addition to salads or as a dessert garnish. The flowers can also be crystallised for extra sweetness.

Plants with poisonous flowers
The following table is, again, not a complete list, but some of the more common plants with poisonous flowers that you might find in a garden or growing wild in the UK. Do NOT assume that if a plant is not on this list then it will be safe to eat.

Aconite (wolfsbane, monkhood)
Aconitum spp.
Anemone spp.
Anthurium spp.
Autumn crocus
Colchicum autumnale
Azalea spp
Buxus spp.
Ranunculus spp.
Calla (calla lily)
Calla palustris (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Carolina jasmine (yellow jessamine)
Gelsemium sempervirens
Castor bean
Ricinus communis
Chilean potato vine
Solanum crispum. All members of the Solanum family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines, have poisonous flowers and leaves.
Christmas rose
Helleborus niger
Clematis spp.
Narcissus spp.
Deadly nightshade (belladonna)
Atropoa belladona
Delphinium (larkspur)
Delphinium spp.
Elephant ears
Colocasia antiquorum
False hellebore
Veratrum viride
Digitalis purpurea
Hyoscyamus niger
Horse chestnut
Aesculus spp.
Hyacinthus orientalis
Hydrangea spp.
Iris spp.
Ivy (English ivy)
Hedera helix
Arisaemia triphyllum
Jessamine (false jasmine)
Cestrum spp.
Labunum anagryroides
Lily of the valley
Convallaria majalis
Lobelia spp.
Marsh marigold
Caltha palustris
Phoradendron spp.
Morning glory
Ipomoea violacea
Solanum spp. All members of the Solanum family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines, have poisonous flowers and leaves.
Nerium oleander
Periwinkle (myrtle, vinca)
Vinca spp.
Philodendron spp.
Solanum tuberosum. All members of the Solanum family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines, have poisonous flowers and leaves.
Ligustrum spp.
Rhododendron spp.
Spindle, Burning bush
Euonymus spp
Euphorbia spp.
Star of Bethlehem
Ornithogalum umbellatum
Sweet pea
Lathyrus spp.
Water hemlock
Cicuta maculata
Wisteria spp.

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