Inside Scoop: Here are 10 edible wildflowers to elevate the look and taste of your next meal.

This post was submitted by Ricardo Elisiário, agricultural engineer and frenetic freelance writer for hire.

 

Very often when we’re taking a hike in the woods or simply enjoying our time, basking on a sunny day at the park, the diversity of weeds with attractive flowers is nearly infinite.

Our preconception is that either most of those flowers are somewhat poisonous or just plain terrible in taste. Now if I told you that there are many edible wildflowers that you’re missing out on which are not only safe to eat but also packed with health, wouldn’t that make you put on your coziest trekking shoes and run outdoors to pick them?

Below, you’ll find a list of the most common edible wildflowers you can add to your next salad, dessert or main creation.

***Notice: it’s vital that you’re sure whether the wildflowers you pick are the right ones. Seeing that there’s a bunch of lookalikes that can either be poisonous or at least somewhat toxic, be mindful of the dangers of ingesting any plant that you cannot fully identify as safe to use or that may interfere with other supplements or medications you are taking. Only consume wildflowers from known sources.

10 EDIBLE WILDFLOWERS TO ELEVATE YOUR DISHES

 

Borage (Borago officinalis a.k.a starflower)

This first plant isn’t only cool-looking and furry, it’s well used for infusions and eaten raw, leaves and all. Its flowers are purplish and if you ever plucked one out, you might still recall how it tastes a tad like honey. That sugary drop makes this flower an elegant and crunchy, garnishing addition to your healthiest salads. Besides, the leaves are known to give hints of the flavour of cucumber, so salad material indeed.

If brewed and drank, the flowers will favour the production of sweat and urine, helping in the natural elimination of metabolic toxins created within our body. Adding to this effect, borage is also a good anti-inflammatory and expectorant that will do you wonders during the aftermath of colds, fevers or flu.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Sweet flowers these are, golden enough to be eaten fresh as well as cooked — fried, steamed or roasted. You can also use them to add scent to any jar of honey, blended in mousses and smoothies or infused to make yourself a flowery tea. Every part of this plant can be safely consumed, so you’re never limited to the flower heads.

Similarly to the borage, dandelions have a great diuretic and depurative action, for they stimulate the secretions of our digestive glands, increasing the bile production and easing the whole process of digestion. You can also find them in the form of tea.

 

Violet (Viola spp.)

If you want a colourful candied version of this cute flower, you can do so, otherwise, raw will be just fine. Once again, join them as an ingredient in jams, puddings and ice creams, both for their hue and essence. If you’re feeling creative, have them garnish a salad, dessert or use them to inject some unusual life into a simple jelly or a cube of ice.

When it comes to the nourishing benefits that violets give us, you’re advised to use these to treat maladies that clog your respiratory tract as well as your bowel, thanks to their laxative properties. They’ll also loosen up your head if you happen to suffer from migraines, and they’re known to help cure cases of bladder inflammation.

 

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)

You’ll notice it’s hard to find an easier plant to grow in your garden. Flowers and buds can be freely eaten in salads, along with its leaves which are also fit to be used. Like many, these blooms also have that sweet nectar at the base and they can be stuffed, pickled, and mingled to create flavourful butter and oil.

This crawly plant holds great potential as a natural antimicrobial and antibiotic, an effect granted by its essential oils, and has been used for minor cuts and infections.

Clover (Trifolium spp.)

There are hundreds of clover species though maybe some are more appetizing than others. For example, crimson, red and white clover blossoms are the most indicated — or simply more common — but let’s not be partial to certain colours. You can try chopping the inflorescences or pluck the petals, then sprinkle them over your dishes. However, boiling or sautéing them seems to be the best plan if you wish to annul any residual bitterness.

Clovers as a whole are said to come with a plethora of health gains that span from the alleviation of menopause-related symptoms, such as skin alterations, headaches, and hot flashes, then crossing over to other systems of our body, as they promote normal function of one’s immune system, heart, liver and even prostate.

 

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

It’s an excellent weed to eat uncooked, although you can always shallow fry or steam it like you would prepare spinach. In terms of colour and shape, this plant can indeed be compared to spinach, only a very diminished version of it. The flowers are tiny and white, great for garnishing and since they are best used fresh, be sure to pick them early in the very day you intend to prepare that great salad.

In terms of how it serves your wellness, this lush weed will help you from within — for weight loss, smoother digestion and to decrease bodily inflammations — as well as topically, if applied over the skin to ease minor burns and wounds.

 

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp.)

Most plants from this genus offer a mildly sour, lemon-like flavour. The flowers come in different colours and they’re quite refreshing when eaten raw, although not as juicy and acidic as the stalks do feel to the palate. These weeds have oxalic acid, toxic if ingested in high dosages, so please don’t eat a full plate of these. Apart from this little note, use them in salads, soups and sauces, season your dishes with them or stick them in the hair of your beloved so that they know Spring is here.

Sorrel’s perks are a few, although mostly reserved to the leaves and not so much the tiny flowers. Hence, the green parts contain beneficial properties like fever and swelling reduction. They’ll also make your urinary system work a little more while boosting your appetite too… in a healthy way!

Daisy (Bellis perennis)

If you want a plant-based lookalike for a fried egg, then this flower is your best pick. Usable in salads, soups or as filling for a sandwich, they’re a good fresh addition to your diet. In case you have picked the whole lawn worth of daisies and don’t know how to go through everything, quickly, you can always make pickles out of them or maybe even design your own garland and necklace.

Concerning the benefits of this common edible wildflower, there are about as many as the number of daisy petals you’re likely to find on a sunny meadow. From increased skin glow and firmness to soothing digestive and respiratory tracts.

 

Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium)

This one is beautiful in its shade of purplish pink. It’s another all-around plant that you can help yourself to, for it’s very versatile and adds a chilli taste to your dishes. The shoots are sweet and softly sharp-tasting, which makes them perfect for a quick raw snack. Since it’s one of the faster species to sprout on terrain scorched by wildfires, you’re sure to always have this weed at hand even when all others fail to show up.

Fireweed seems to still be backed up from word of mouth more than from scientific proof, but what’s true is that its usage is very broad. You can use it for gastrointestinal problems, coughs, migraines, various sorts of inflammation and also apply it, as a concoction, on irritated spots from burns, bruises or even to try and soothe certain swellings whose origin is more internal.

Mallow (Malva spp.)

At last, we unroot the old mallow, an invasive that does for you much more than you might know. Pretty flowers of an almost white shade, they’re elegant and as tasteless as the plant’s leaves. Together with the latter, they can be mixed with other salad veggies to boost the vitamin content of your meal or yet added to the homiest of soups.

This plant is rich in mucilages that justify its emollient and laxative properties, great to ease the skin and our interior mucosal walls. On the rest, it follows most of the specimens on this list, being an effective expectorant and antitussive, and the flowers are especially noted for their richness in flavonoids.

For now, these 10 edible wildflowers should be enough to get you busy reinventing your healthy dishes. With extra taste, freshness and fun, it’s hard not to rejoice with how much one can find and use from the weediest corners of our garden.

If you doubt that your patch contains any of the weeds we just talked about, then go out with your fancy penknife in hand, try to spot every blossom there is and bring them home for lunch, because if you still had any doubts, well now you know that flower power it’s really where it’s still at.

***Notice: it’s vital that you’re sure whether the wildflowers you pick are the right ones. Seeing that there’s a bunch of lookalikes that can either be poisonous or at least somewhat toxic, be mindful of the dangers of ingesting any plant that you cannot fully identify as safe to use or that may interfere with other supplements or medications you are taking. Only consume wildflowers from known sources.

 

Ricardo Elisiário

Ricardo Elisiário is a frenetic freelance writer for hire. He should probably act more like the agricultural engineer he is, yet you’ll find him creating copy and content for websites, print… and his own amusement, as he’s up to becoming the new Dickens someday. To find out more about this Lisbon-born wifey-lover, visit his website or say hello @rmelisiario.

 

 

 

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