In this dreary February weather, I start looking forward to spring and summer along with all of the life it brings. The sun takes noticeably longer to set, the weather may be warmer, and already my tulips and hyacinth bulbs are putting out new little sprouts!
I am so excited for gardening season as many of the flowers and plants that I have not only feed valuable pollinators, but can also provide food for me, and not just in the traditional Tomato, Pepper, and Squash sense!
Here I have included a select few flowers (there are soooo many more!) that are edible and some of the potential medicinal properties that they have, along with some ways to prepare them. Maybe you’ll get inspired to include these in your salads this year! Each number corresponds with an image below.
Rose– One rule of thumb is: “If it smells good, it taste’s good!” The petals are great lightly sugars, muddled into drinks (great in fresh mojitos!), and in salads. Roses have been known to reduce anxiety as well!
Sumac – Those fluffy looking red stalks that grow late spring-summer are fantastic when turned into tea! Simply harvest the stalk, rinse, and stick into a pitcher of water and allow to steep in the sun! The tea will taste slightly fruity and tangy; I find it similar to Rhubarb. Add some sugar if you want it sweeter. This plant has so many health benefits too, like being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and is also known to lower blood sugar!
Day Lily – Those buds are like potatoes! You can roast them or boil them to get that starchy potato-like texture. The shoots can be eaten like asparagus and the petals make beautiful additions to salads! The whole flower can be sugared and used to decorate desserts. This flower can act as a detox and is even known to reduce jaundice and insomnia!
Sunflower – Yummy protein filled seeds! Note that the wild cultivated and garden variety may have smaller seeds than you might buy at the store. The seeds are full of Vitamin B, phosphorus and other minerals.
New England Aster– Both the root and the flowers of this plant are edible! The flowers can act as a decongestant (can relieve coughing from bronchitis – good for me to know!!!) and is known to calm both the mind and muscle spasms.
Dame’s Rockets– Oh my goodness, these flowers and buds have a delightfully sweet and yet savory flavor! My favorite way to eat them is sugared and on top of ice cream. Similarly to the aster, this flower can relieve coughing. This is an invasive species in Eastern North America, so don’t plant this, but search for it throughout your community.
Dead Nettle– The greens of this plant can be added to salads or smoothies as a “superfood” and are also great as an antiseptic and anti-microbial.
Hibiscus– The flower can be eaten raw, but my favorite way to use it is to dry it and steep it for tea. If drank, it may have a sour flavor, but with a little sugar, may be sweeter and is great as iced tea. Not only is it yummy, but it is known to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol!
Queen Anne’s Lace – Leaves and roots (note – this is a wild carrot species!) are edible, but this plant is only recommended for people who can truly ID this plant, as a similar looking species, Poison Hemlock, is – as its name implies – poisonous! Queen Anne’s Lace has hairy stems while Poison Hemlock has hairless stems with purple spots.
Chicory – The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw, but the root can only be eaten once boiled or roasted. In fact, roasted chicory can make for some great coffee! This coffee is high in a type of fiber that causes weight loss!
Red Clover– Pick the flower and pull out the petal structures from the base. They are filled with sweet nectar that you can suck out! They are also great in salads and to decorate desserts. Not only is it sweet to eat but it’s sweet for your blood! It has the ability to purify the blood of toxins, including cancer-causing agents.
Bee balm– The leaves of this plant are edible and can be used as salad greens. It is known to relieve indigestion and can even help relieve menstrual cramps! Good for us to know – right ladies?
Cone Flowers – Leaves and flowers are edible and make for great tea when dried. This is definitely a super food as it does everything from acting as an antiseptic for wounds to fighting the flu and so many other illnesses!
Some of my other favorites include Dandelion, Chickweed, Pennycress, Plantain, Violets, Pansy, Lavender, Knapweed, Primrose, Marigolds, Honeysuckle, and Yarrow!