The Beauty of Edible Flowers

By Rona Berg / June 14, 2018

Edible flowers are everywhere, adding beauty and sweetness to the table.

Photography: Robin Jolin
Stylist: Olya Breton

I love spring flowers, and I notice them wherever I go. They’re lovely to look at, soft to the touch, and add an intoxicating scent to the air. But lately, I’ve been noticing flowers where I’m not so used to seeing them: in food, in drinks and at the spa. Brilliant blooms were sprinkled on top of a savory dish at a James Beard Foundation dinner in New York City and they brightened cocktails at Las Alcobas Spa and Meadowood Napa Valley.

Those sightings inspired me to pick up a few flats at my local farmers market in Manhattan and repot them in my window box, in place of the herbs that usually grow there. Edible flowers add a delicate flavor and a lovely spot of color to a dish, and some are rich in antioxidant vitamins. Rose petals serve up vitamin E and lavender is loaded with vitamin A. Herb blossoms, like chive and viola, are a great source of minerals. And oh, boy, they sure are pretty!

“Some of my favorite edible flowers include dianthus, lavender, gem marigolds, borage, nasturtium, bachelor buttons, calendula, nigella and pea flowers,” says Scott Beattie, beverage director for Estate Events at Meadowood Napa Valley, and author of Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus. “It's important to make sure that the flower(s) that you're using make sense for the particular drink, i.e. the colors are complementary or the flower mirrors another ingredient such as a basil flower for a basil gimlet,” Beattie continues. “Herb blossoms are some of my favorite edible flowers to use because they add an extra aromatic element and I know that I'm always cutting off herb flowers anyways in my own garden to stop them from going to seed. So in this sense they're great as a by-product that I might be throwing out otherwise.”

A Short List of Edible Flowers


Borage

Star-shaped and slightly fuzzy, these blue flowers taste subtly of cucumber.

Calendula

These brilliant gold blossoms have a peppery bite.

Chamomile

Often used in tea, these small, daisy-like flowers have a mild sweetness.

Cherry

Japanese cherry blossoms are the preferred variety for eating as they are tender.

Dandelion

These bright yellow flower heads are sweet and crunchy.

Elderflower

Tiny individual star-shaped blossoms form large creamy-white umbels.

Fuchsia

Tangy and frilly, these make a beautiful display.

Hibiscus

Tart and brightly colored, these are often used dried.

Lavender

The highly aromatic buds and flowers are used in sweet and savory preparations. Lavender’s fragrant scent has been used for centuries to calm and soothe, and is said to cure a host of other ills.

Nasturtium

Bold colors allude to potent peppery flavors.

Rose

The velvety petals are sweetly perfumed, especially the darker varieties.

Violet

This delicate flower has long been a popular flavoring in candies and baked goods.

Republished with permission from The Faerie Handbook (HarperCollins)

You May Also Like: 

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, longtime journalist and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes (Workman Publishing), Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine. She has been cited as an industry expert by Huffington Post, Fox News and New York Magazine and contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. Berg co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

Latest posts by Rona Berg (see all)