From the garden or market, edible blossoms add a riot of color to summer salads

A rose is a rose is a rose, until it’s in your salad bowl. Then it becomes an ingredient with alluring color, delicate flavor, and Monet impact. Other edible blossoms, including herb flowers, can be equally effective.

Many palatable flower varieties, grown without pesticides and chemicals to preserve their edibility, are sold in the produce section. They may seem a bit pricey, but a few go a long way to enhance other foods. If you raise these tasty posies with identical care, you can pluck them from your own garden for dining. However, the same flowers from a florist can be harmful if consumed because of what’s added.

Edible flowers you are apt to encounter at the market are listed below. Don’t experiment with other varieties without expert guidance. Some flowers are poisonous; others just taste bad. If you need a local source for edible flowers, contact HerbThyme Farms in South San Francisco at (650) 952-4372 or They distribute throughout the West.

Flowers grown for eating

FLOWER: begonia
COLOR: tuberous orange, pink, red, yellow, white
FLAVOR: lemon

FLOWER: borage
COLOR: blue-lavender
FLAVOR: cucumber

FLOWER: calendula
COLOR: orange, yellow
FLAVOR: spicy, pepper

FLOWER: carnation
COLOR: lavender, pink, red
FLAVOR: pepper, cloves

FLOWER: chive
COLOR: lavender
FLAVOR: onion

FLOWER: chrysanthemum
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: faint to distinct bitterness

FLOWER: daisy
COLOR: English pastels, white
FLAVOR: tangy lettuce

FLOWER: dianthus
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: cloves

FLOWER: fuchsia
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: tart

FLOWER: geranium
COLOR: pink, peach, red, white
FLAVOR: differs with variety

FLOWER: hollyhock
COLOR: lavender, pink, red, white
FLAVOR: mild lettuce

FLOWER: Johnny-jump-up
COLOR: purple, white, yellow
FLAVOR: mild lettuce

FLOWER: lavender
COLOR: purple
FLAVOR: floral, pungent

FLOWER: marigold
COLOR: orange, yellow
FLAVOR: spicy, mildly bitter

FLOWER: nasturtium
COLOR: orange, red, yellow
FLAVOR: horseradish

FLOWER: pansy
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: sweet, mild

FLOWER: rose
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: floral, delicate

FLOWER: rosemary
COLOR: light blue
FLAVOR: pine resin

FLOWER: sage
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: sage, differs with variety

FLOWER: squash blossom
COLOR: yellow
FLAVOR: faintly sweet, mild lettuce

FLOWER: stock
COLOR: pink, purple, white, yellow
FLAVOR: spicy, sweet

FLOWER: thyme
COLOR: purple, white
FLAVOR: thyme

FLOWER: viola
COLOR: many colors
FLAVOR: mild lettuce

Rose Petal Fruit Salad
Bouquet Mix Salad
Nasturtium Pasta Salad
Purple Flash Spinach Salad
Strawberry-Begonia Salad
Rice and Rosemary Blossom Salad
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