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Edible Flowers - Part 4

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Showy Spring Flowers

This is the fourth of a four part series on flowers you can eat. This hub will cover the showy flowers of spring specifically, Hibiscus, Honeysuckle, Impatiens, Lilac, Queen Anne's Lace, Sunflower, and Tulip.

Great care should be taken with any flowering plant. The blossoms may be edible and the rest of the plant from mildly toxic to downright dangerous. Always do some research on what you plan to eat.

Additionally, never eat the blossoms from florist supplied flowers. The growers florists get their flowers from use pesticides and the florists themselves can and will spray or water the flowers with preservatives to keep them fresh and cause them to last longer. Both pesticides and preservatives are not good to eat.

Always procure your flowers from your own garden or from a trusted grower you know to use organic growing methods.

I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
- Claude Monet

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.
- The Koran

The Lineup

Hibiscus: Taste: cranberry with citrus highlights.

Often used to make tea or other drinks. The flowers can be white, pink, orange, red, and purple. In Jamaica a drink called sorrel is made at Christmas time. This drink is a mixture of Hibiscus flower and other herbs and spices. It can be served with or without rum. In Africa it is known as Bissap, in the MIddle-East as Karkady, flor de Jamaica in Mexico, and Gongura India.

Hibiscus tea is high in vitamin C and is a popular drink with dieters. It is also a diuretic so those with kidney problems may also find it helpful.

Finally, the petals can be used as the base for dye.

Honeysuckle: Taste: sweet honey. Often used as a garnish in salads Caution: you should never eat the berries or fruit of the honeysuckle as it is mildly to extremely toxic.

Impatiens: Taste: Sweet. Used as a sweet garnish in salads or as a decoration in drinks e.g. floating the petals in punch or other summertime drinks. This is one of my favorites as the flowers have a distinct, otherworldly look, and the seed pods are extremely interesting (see video below); once I saw a seed pod in action I understood why the flower is named impatient or "touch me not."

Lilac: Taste: Fragrant yet slightly bitter. Good in salads, or crystallized with egg whites and sugar. It can also be used to make wine.

Peony: Taste: Lightly sweet. Used as a garnish, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups.

Queen Anne's Lace: Taste: Light carrot flavor. This is the predecessor to all cultivated carrots. e.g. a wild carrot.

Sunflower: Taste: Somewhat like artichoke. Unopened buds can be cooked as an artichoke substitute. The petals may be used like chrysanthemum for tea.

Tulip: Taste: Sweet lettuce or new baby peas; possibly cucumber. Caution: some people are allergic to tulips.

Hibiscus Jamaica Tea

Hibiscus stains nearly anything porous so you will want to use plastic or hard glazed ceramic cookware. Also, if your counter-top is granite or another stain-able surface considering using a cutting board between the flowers and your counter-top.


  • 5 Cups water, spring or distilled is best
  • Generous 1/2 Cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
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  1. Boil the water.
  2. Pour the 5 Cups of boiling water into a bowl.
  3. Add the 1/2 Cup of Hibiscus and 1/2 Cup of sugar.
  4. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
  5. Set the bowl aside until the mixture comes to room temperature. Do not remove the flowers.
  6. Once cool transfer the liquid to a pitcher. Yes, you are now removing the flowers.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Honeysuckle Sorbet

Wonderful in the summertime. Chilling and sweet with that wonderful honey aroma.


  • 5 2/3 cups cool water
  • 4 cups honeysuckle blossoms, tightly packed but not smashed
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • Few drops lemon juice
  • Dusting of cinnamon (optional)


  1. Add cool tap water to flowers in a nonreactive container (glass or stainless steel) and let stand on the counter overnight.
  2. The following day when ready make a simple syrup by heating sugar and 1 2/3 cups water in a saucepan over low heat until the mixture is clear.
  3. Once clear boil the liquid for a minute or so, until the syrup begins to appear lustrous and slightly thick.
  4. Remove syrup from heat and add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent the sugar from recrystallizing. Cool the syrup.
  5. Strain the honeysuckle flowers, gently pressing the blossoms.
  6. Combine the honeysuckle and the simple syrup.
  7. Add just a light dusting of ground cinnamon. This is optional because too much cinnamon can completely cover up the taste of the honeysuckle.
  8. Put the mix in a glass baking dish in the freezer, let it freeze a little, stir and smash with a fork.
  9. Put the dish back in the freezer and wait another couple of hours before stirring and mashing the mixture again.
  10. Once frozen place in a mixer/blender so its gets nice and snow-like. Return to the freezer until you are ready to eat it.
  11. If you have an ice cream freezer, churn it according to the manufacturer's directions.Be sure to "firm" up the sorbet, as you would any ice-cream, in the freezer.

Impatiens Decoration

As with peony you can float the impatiens blossoms or individual petals in a punch bowl or other communal drink.

Queen Anne's Lace

No recipes for this because, frankly, any recipe you would use carrots in can also host the root of Queen Anne's Lace. You see, Queen Anne's Lace is wild carrot.

Women who are pregnant should probably avoid QAL because the root has been linked to uterine contractions. The seed of QAL has been used in "folk" medicine as a "morning after" contraceptive. There is some scientific research that indicates that this might actually be possible.

Lilac Wine


  • 3-1/2 Quarts lilac flowers
  • 2-1/2 pounds granulated sugar
  • 2 lemons or 12 grams 80% lactic acid
  • 7-1/2 pints of water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
  • Champagne yeast


  1. Boil the 7 1/2 pints of water.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil remove damaged flowers and rinse the keepers.
  3. Put the flowers in a large bowl and once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and pour the water over the blossoms.
  4. Cover the large bowl tightly and set aside for 48 hours.
  5. At the end of forty-eight hours strain the flowers through nylon straining bag and squeeze to extract all flavor, then discard pulp, retaining the liquid.
  6. Add to the liquid, sugar, yeast nutrient, juice of lemon or lactic acid and stir until completely incorporated.
  7. Sprinkle dry yeast on top without stirring.
  8. Place a cover back on the medium bowl and ferment seven days.
  9. Transfer the liquid to new sterile container with an airtight seal.
  10. Ferment for thirty days.
  11. Pour mixture into prepared wine bottles, rack, top up and fit airtight seals to each bottle.
  12. Let age three to six months.

Peony Float

Both the petals and whole bud can be floated (as with Impatiens above) in punch or another "communal" drink for a splash of color.

Pickled Sunflower Buds


  • Sunflower buds, enough to fill a mason jar three/quarters full.
  • 1 Pint vinegar
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, ground
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Wash the buds to remove detritus and insects. Inspect and discard damaged buds.
  2. Place the buds in boiling water and cook, at the boil, for ten to twelve minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the burner and pour off the water.
  4. Place the buds in a sterile pre-heated mason jar (pre-heating will prevent thermal cracking of the glass).
  5. Boil the vinegar and spices for five to seven minutes. Not long.
  6. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the buds in the jar.
  7. Screw on the lid when cooled slightly.
  8. You can keep these pickled sunflower buds for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.

Sunflower Seed Spread


  • 2 cups sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 Cup Tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Toast seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes stirring or tossing  non-stop; you are looking for a lightly browned color.
  2. Move the hot seeds to a bowl and mix well with tahini, stirring well to coat all seeds. Spread seeds out in a single layer and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine juice and garlic. Set aside.
  4. Put seeds in food processor or hand held blender along with the juice mixture, soy sauce, celery, minced onion and water; blend until the mixture is fairly fine.
  5. Cover and refrigerate if not using the spread within 15 minutes. If spread firms up mix in a tablespoon of water.

Tulip Tuna


  • 12 brightly colored tulips 
  • 2 cans Albacore tuna packed in water, drained
  • 3 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 / 3 Cup mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
  • Lettuce for garnish


  1. Remove petals from 8 of the tulips, cutting off 1 / 4 inch where petal was attached to the stem; this will eliminate the bitter part of flower.
  2. Julienne the petals and set aside.
  3. In large bowl mix together tuna, celery, curry, mayonnaise and pepper to taste.
  4. Add julienned petals and toss gently.
  5. With the remaining unused tulips remove the pistils and stamens from the reserved tulips.
  6. Place each tulip on a bed of lettuce. Gently spoon the tuna mixture into the tulips and Serve.


Most of these plants are quite safe with the exception of honeysuckle and Queen Anne's Lace. One should never eat honeysuckle berries or fruits and Queen Anne's Lace can have some starling effects on a woman's reproductive system.


LiamBean (author) from Los Angeles, Calilfornia on June 01, 2010:

Thanks billy: I'm anxious to pickle some sunflower buds.

billyaustindillon on April 28, 2010:

I do have Hibiscus tea occasionally but most of the others are brand new for me - thanks for another great hub on edible flowers - four now!

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