Flowers. Annuals, perennials, colorful and cheerful. Flowers can brighten up a gloomy day or give a new flavor to your favorite dish. Yes, some flowers are edible. Just to name a few calendula, impatiens, day lilies, violets, carnations, pansies and begonias. I thought I would share a bit of interesting information about some of my personal favorites. Calendula, impatiens and day lilies.
The calendula is an annual flower native to the northern Mediterranean countries. They are a beautiful cheery flower that follows the path of the sun throughout the day in the same way that sunflowers do. Calendula comes in a variety of orange-ish yellows. It has a zingy, peppery flavor and is an easy to grow flower that is beautiful, edible and has medicinal uses. Calendula petals are edible, so steer clear of any other part. The dried petals are commonly used in creams, teas, infusions, and washes. They can also be added to salads, cream based soups or used as a garnish on just about anything. Calendula has also been known for treating acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue. Early spring to summer is the recommended planting season. Aphids are the most common insect problem. But they can be easily treated with an insecticide. The most common disease affecting calendula is mildew which occurs most under hot, humid or moist/rainy conditions. Fungicides should take care of any mildew. Germination takes 10 to 14 days. Calendula can survive light frosts but will usually die from heavy frost. Many times they will be the last of the annual flowers still blooming in late fall. To give your home a bit of natural beauty they work very well mixed with other flowers in floral arrangements but check thoroughly for aphids because they are a pest to have in your home.
Warning: Calendula has been known to affect women’s reproductive systems and menstruation. Do not digest calendula when pregnant or when trying to be pregnant.
Impatiens are a popular flower in the northern hemisphere and many people do not know this but you can eat them! They are quite tasty in salads, desserts and drinks. They are wonderful as a garnish on any dish because their flavor is light and sweet. Impatiens have medicinal uses as well. They have been used to treat bee stings, insect bites and stinging nettle. Impatiens produce flowers from early summer until the first frost. Impatiens like shade and moisture and prefer part shade though they do like sun if protected by shade in late afternoon. Impatiens prefer moist, well-drained soil. The most important thing to remember about impatiens is to water them regularly. Keep them moist but not too wet. The leaves will fall off if they are not watered enough.
Day Lilies are a perennial and bloom from mid-spring to mid-summer. They are completely edible! The petals, stem, buds and even the root. You will see day lilies often in Chinese cuisine. I personally have never eaten this flower but I have heard it has a mild flavor with vegetable notes and have a faint taste of sweet melon. The flavor combination has been described as a mix of asparagus, lettuce and sweet cucumber. Some think that the color of the flower affects its flavor. But I do not have the experience to know if this is true or not. Day lilies buds and flower are the sweetest part and can be eaten raw or cooked. For desserts the petals are excellent, just make sure to cut away the white base of the flower as this is where it has a more bitter taste. The roots have been said to be delicious when boiled like potatoes. The young leaves from the stem taste like lettuce and are very yummy in salads. For a satisfying snack the flowers and seed pods can be battered and deep fried. YUM! I recommend buying an already blossomed plant as they have been known to take up to 2 years to bloom when starting from seeds.
Day lily plants don’t need protection in the winter in most areas. The leaves will die back in the winter and return again in the spring. Day lilies are so beautiful to decorate with. Every time I see them in someone’s home I can’t resist touching and admiring them. If you want to try an edible flower that is delicious and easy to add to foods but also a beautiful decoration then the day lily is the one for you.
A Great book about edible flowers is Eat Your Yard < For sale on Google.