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How to: use edible flowers

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Eating flowers sounds exotic but in fact we do it all the time. 


Some are disguised, like saffron, which is the dried stigma of the crocus flower; others are obvious, like the gold flowers of zucchini. As well, rose petals are used in vinegar and jams; red rosellas flowers add a zing to a glass of sparkling wine; and hibiscus, rose and jasmine are the basis of herbal teas. Next up – flowers in salads.


Modern chefs are now picking posies to add to salads and garnish plates of delicately flavoured delights. These flowers are not just pretty additions to the plate, they also add flavors of their own. Taste and experiment with the flowers of lemon, rose, heartsease, pinks, honeysuckle, scented geranium, lime, day lilies, borage, rosemary, violets, feijoa, nasturtium, pansies, violas, and calendula. For a pungent kick try the flowers of garlic or society garlic, and the flowers of chives. Edible flowers are found everywhere, but before you pick just any backyard bloom check a flower guide to ensure you haven’t selected a poisonous petal. And one final warning - make sure the garden from which you pick is chemical-free!


Pansies (Viola tricolour): the pussycat faces of heartsease, violas and pansies are pretty in a salad. They come in a range of colours.

Photo - Maria Mosolova/ 

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): the yellow and orange flowers can be sown in spring and have a spicy, peppery flavour.

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Pinks (Dianthus spp): trim the sweet, clove-scented petals and add to salads and sandwiches.

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Roses (Rosa spp): add a romantic colour, fragrance and flavour to salads and desserts. Choose a fragrant variety such as 'New Dawn' which has a velvety texture and petals that are barely pink, like strawberry ice cream.

Photo - Linda Ross

Scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp): come in a range of fragrances, including peppermint, apple, guava and rose. The flowers boast a similar flavor to the fragrance of the leaves.

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): with a distinct rosemary flavour and beautiful blue colour they are a hit atop baked vegetables.


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Spring salad with baby leaves, sprouts, petals and jasmine flower vinaigrette


What you need

1 teaspoon lemon juice

5 jasmine flowers

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

8 cups homegrown mixed greens (such as baby endive, baby spinach, baby rocket, coral green, baby beetroot leaves)

1 cup edible flowers blossoms


What to do

In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil, then gently combine the jasmine flowers and mustard. Wash and dry the leaves then tear into bite size pieces. Remove and discard flower stems and wash the flowers gently. Just before serving, toss the dressing through the greens then sprinkle with flowers and serve. 


Text: Linda Ross

About this article

Author: Linda Ross