Monday, July 8, 2013

New Perspectives: Edible Flowers in Your Backyard

Edible Flower Recipe
Image courtesy of Vegetable Gardener

When it comes to edible plants, people usually think of vegetable gardens and farms, but what manydo not realize is that the flowers we grow for beauty can sometimes have another purpose. Here are a few examples of flowers you may have in your yard that you could take a bite out of, if ya want:

1. Rose  – Everyone knows what a rose looks like, but did you know they were edible. Rose petals make a great colorful addition to salads and rose hips, the round part of the stem right below the bloom, are full of vitamin C. Rose hip tea is tasty and nutritious. You can also make jams and jellies out of rose hips and petals.

2. Lotus – The beautiful blooms and sweet pads of this pond plant are often the reason we have them, but there is more to the lotus than meets the eye. The seeds of the lotus plant were prized by Native Americans for their flavor and nutrition. You can eat them raw or roast them for a tasty treat. Make sure to remove the green centers before eating for the best flavor. Underwater shoots also form tubers which are eaten much like a potato. These are best to harvest in late summer or fall.

3. Sweet Alyssum  – The tiny clusters of white flowers mean that this little plant could be in your spring garden bed. But unlike its name the flavor of this plant is more like horseradish. A member of the mustard family, the flowers, stems, leaves and seed pods of this plant can be added to dishes for a spicy flavor. The leaves can also be cooked like mustard greens.

4. Canna Lily –These large flowering plants are hardy and colorful so it is no wonder so many homes have them in their gardens. The large leaves look much like banana leaves and can be used similarly to wrap food for cooking. The young shoots are edible if cooked, but the roots of the plant are your best bet for food. These tubers have even higher starch content then potatoes and can easily be ground into gluten free flour.

5. Redbud  – Last on our list is actually a flowering tree. The redbud’s flowers appear directly on the branches in the spring and are edible. Open flowers have a sweet flavor and a beautiful purple-pink color. After the flowers drop off seed pods appear. These pods can be used just like pea pods in stir fries and other dishes. After a couple of weeks they become hard and unpalatable, so harvest quickly!

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to:

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