A Guide to Commonly Available Edible Flowers

Dozens of common garden plants produce edible flowers; check out this guide for tips on harvesting and using them in your kitchen.

By Randel A. Agrella

Summer 2016

Gladiola

Learn more about common edible flowers in the article An Introduction to Edible Flowers.

Plant Name
Botanical Name
Flower Color
Bloom Period
Taste Fragrance Comments & Hints
Angelica Angelica achangelica Lavender to rose Spring-blooming biennial Strong anise, sweet, licorice
Candies and compotes
Anise hyssop
Agastache foeniculum Lavender July to frost Strong anise, sweet, licorice   Makes an excellent tea base
Apple or crabapple
Malus spp. White to pink May Slightly floral to sour Sweet floral Petals may be candied. Seeds are poisonous
Artichoke Cynara scolymus Immature head: green Fall Artichoke    
Arugula, Rocket Eruca vesicaria White May to frost Nutty, smoke, less piquant than leaves   Salad green. Cream-colored petals with delicate burgundy veining are very pretty
Bachelor's Button Centaurea cyanus White to pink, red, blue purple Early summer Grassy   Discard the bitter calyx
Basil Ocimum basilicum White to pale pink July to frost Milder than leaves, spicy    
Bergamot, bee balm, Oswego tea Monarda didyma Red, pink, white, lavender July to August Tea-like, more aromatic than leaves Sweet, perfumed  
Borage Boraga officinalis Blue, purple to lavender June to July Mild cucumber   Use as garnish; may be candied
Broccoli, cauliflower Brassica spp. Buds: blue-green; yellow flower, white buds in cauliflower June to August Broccoli    
Burnet Poterium sanguisorba Red July to August Cucumber   Salad herb. Flowers are red-brown somewhat complex and striking-looking
Calendula, pot marigold Calendula officinalis Yellow, gold/orange June to August Tangy and peppery, sometimes bitter   Ornamental. Dries well. Inexpensive saffron substitute, adds color to rice dishes. Use in scrambled eggs
Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium White May to June Parsley-like, hint of citrus, anise or tarragon    
Chicory Cichorium intybus Blue to lavender July to frost Pleasant, mild-bitter similar to endive   Buds sometimes pickled in place of capers
Chive Allium schoenoprasum Lavender, red to purple May to June Onion, strong Onion Separate florets to serve
Chrysanthemum Dendrathema x grandiflorum Red, yellow, pink, orange, purple, white August to October Varieties differ, strong to bitter, peppery Pungent Tea
Coriander Coriandrum sativum White June to frost Like leaf but milder Fragrant Herb
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Yellow May to June; fall Sweet and honey-like, sometimes bitter   Eat cooked only
Daylily Hemerocallis fulva Tawny orange June to July Cooked, combination of asparagus/zucchini   All parts are edible
Carnation, pinks Dianthus spp. Pink, white and red June to August Spicy, sweet or clove-like Some varieties are spicier  
Dill Anethum graveolens Yellow June to frost Stronger than leaves Dill  
English daisy Bellis perennis White to purple petals April to September Mild to bitter   Use as garnish or in salads
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare Pale yellow July to August Licorice, milder than leaves, sweet    
Fuchsia Fuchsia spp. Purples, red Late spring to frost     Very vibrant colors, exotic appearance
Garden chrysanthemum, shungiku Chrysanthemum coronarium Yellow to white August to October Mild   Try including immature buds in stir-fry, use whole flowers as garnish
Garden pea Pisum sativum White, tinged pink May to June Raw peas   Vegetable
Garden sage Salvia officinalis Blue, purple, white, pink May to July Flowery sage, slightly musky   Herb
Garlic chive
Allium tuberosum White August to frost Onion, strong Onion Separate florets to serve
Gladiolus Gladiolus spp. Various except true blue 6-8 weeks after planting Bland, lettuce-like   Best stuffed, as a container for dips or spreads, or garnish. Comes in many shades and color combinations
Hibiscus, China rose, rose-of-China Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Orange, red or purplish red Late summer Citrus/cranberry flavor   Subtropical tree but may be grown indoors. Used in many tea flavorings
Hollyhock Alcea rosea Various July to frost Little, slightly bitter   Main value is their color. Best as a garnish or container for dip
Honeysuckle Lonicera spp. Usually pale yellow to white Spring-summer Sweet nectar Sweet fragrance Makes a delicate garnish. Avoid the toxic berries
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis Blue, pink, white July to October Bitter; similar to tonic   Used to flavor chartreuse, a liqueur; strong flavor
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Lavender, purple, pink, white June to early August Highly perfumed, sweet Floral Used in sugars, custards, honeys, cakes, waters and vinegars. Add petals to salads, baked goods, ice cream. Use in savory dishes as well, or as a garnish
Lemon Citrus limon White Varies with variety Citrus, slightly bitter Sweet floral Subtropical tree but ma be grown indoors
Lemon balm Melissa officinalis Creamy white July to August Lemony, sweet Lemon Herb
Lemon verbena Lippia citriodora White August to September   Lemon Dessert, seafood, as a tea
Lilac Syringa vulgaris White, pink, purple, lilac April to May Perfume, slightly bitter to lemony Lilac Flavor varies markedly from one variety to another. Candies well
Lovage Levisticum officinale Yellow, white August Mild celery   Herb
Marjoram Origanum majorana Pale pink June to August Spicy, sweet   Herb
Mint Mentha spp. Lavender, pink to white July to September Minty, milder than leaves Fresh, minty Herb
Mustard Brassica spp. Yellow April to May Mustard, hot   Salad garnish. Watch for allergies
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus Red, orange, yellow, white July to August Watercress-flavored, slightly sweet to peppery   Paler flowers tend to taste milder. Whole or diced in salads. Stuff with mousse, mascarpone or crèma fraîche for an appetizer
Okra, gumbo Abelmoschus aesculentus Yellow, red Mid-summer to frost Mild, sweet and slightly mucilaginous  
Orange Citrus sinensis White Varies Citrus, sweet/strong Perfume, sweet Subtropical tree but may be grown indoors
Oregano Origanum spp. White June to August Spicy, pungent-like leaves   Herb
Oxeye daisy Chrysanthemum leucanthemum White/yellow center April to August Mild   Use as garnish or in salad
Pansy, Johnny jump-up Viola x wittrockiana, Viola tricolor Violet, white, pink, yellow, multi-colored May to July Mild, tart, slightly wintergreen-flavored Sometimes very pronounced sweet fragrance Use in fruit dishes, salads, pastas and drinks. Top crackers with cream cheese. May be served whole
Pineapple sage Salvia elegans Scarlet September Pineapple/sage overtones   Herb
Plum Prunus spp. Pink to white April to May Mild, like flower nectar Sweet Petals candy well. Pits of mature fruit are poisonous
Radish Raphanus sativus White, pink, yellow One month after planting Spicy, sharp and peppery   Over-mature radish root yield blooms
Red clover Trifolium pratense Pink, lilac June to September Hay Hay Scatter florets on salad
Redbud Cercis canadensis Pink April Beanlike to tart apple   Native tree to Eastern U.S.
Roman chamomile Anthemis nobilis White petals; yellow center Late June to frost Sweet apple flavor   Ragweed sufferers may be allergic to chamomile; drink no more than one cup of tea per day
Rose Rosa spp. White, pink, yellow, red, orange May to June, September Highly perfumed; sweet to bitter Rose Remove sour petal base. Infuse into water or vinegar. Distill into oil or syrups. Float petals in drinks or strew on desserts
Rose-of-Sharon Hibiscus syriacus Red, white, purple, violet July to August Mild, nutty   Shrub
Roselle Hibiscus sabdariffa Red, varies   Tart and fruity   Makes a citrus-like tea
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Pale blue, dark blue, pink, white Depends on cultivar Mild rosemary Delicate Use raw as a garnish
Safflower, American safflower, false saffron Carthamus tinctorius Yellow to deep red August Bitter flavor   May impart yellow color to cooked foods
Saffron Crocus sativus Lavender-purple September to October Bitter, aromatic Complex Used for color and flavor. Use only the 3 threadlike stigmas produced per flower
Scarlet runner bean Phaseolus coccineus Bright orange to scarlet or white July to August Raw bean but milder   Vegetable. Flower crunchy; use in salad
Scented geranium Pelargonium spp. White, red, pink, purple Varies Like variety selected, e.g., rose, lemon; varies Mild Ornamental
Signet marigold Tagetes tenuifolia White, gold, yellow, red May to September Citrus; milder than T. erecta   Ornamental
Squash or pumpkin Cucurbita spp. Orange, yellow July to August Mild, raw squash Slightly floral Stuff whole blooms, or batter and fry. Slice crosswise for a bizarre and spectacular garnish
Summer savory Satureja hortensis Pink July to August Mildly peppery, spicy   Herb
Thyme Thymus spp. Pink, purple, white July to August Milder than leaves   Herb. Most creeping thymes have little flavor
Violet Viola odorata Violet, pink, white April to May Sweet Sweet, floral Use as a garnish, in salads. Candies well
Winter savory Satureja montana Pale blue to purple July to August Mildly peppery, spicy   Herb
Yucca Yucca filamentosa Creamy white with purple tinge July Hint of artichoke, slightly bitter   Ornamental

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