A Review of Edible Flowers by Monica Nelson

Deer and rabbits aren’t the one ones that eye a backyard or panorama filled with flowers and suppose, “Let’s eat!”

With “Edible Flowers: How, Why, and When We Eat Flowers,” writer Monica Nelson has all of the gardeners and residential cooks who give this ebook a learn contemplating greater than 100 various kinds of flowers as sources of meals, if not totally meant to nourish in and of themselves, then not less than put to good use to offer alluring adornments and a novel pop of taste and shade in a wide range of dishes.

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Their colourful splendor is emphasised with full-color images sprinkled all through, some shiny and others printed on matte paper.

Nearly all of these are by Adrianna Glaviano, alongside a brief checklist of images from extra contributing photographers.

Yow will discover a replica of “Edible Flowers” so as to add to your cooking and gardening bookshelf now on Amazon.

After I learn it, my newfound information not less than tripled the variety of blooms I might take into account consuming, as garnishes, in soups, as bread or jelly components… and the checklist goes on.

And that’s actually what Nelson goals to perform with this ebook.

Together with the assistance of some dozen meals and artwork luminaries who contribute essays and poems to the ebook beneath the title “Flower Eaters,” Nelson immerses readers within the lore, botany, and typically private expertise of so many various edible blooms.

I learn the ebook from cowl to cowl, then browsed it, and later dipped again in for more information not less than 10 occasions so far after I first obtained it.

My quick take: Should you’re in any respect in floral meals, this compendium is destined to grow to be dog-eared when you come up with it.

However do enable me to again up and offer you some extra details about this quantity, so you possibly can determine if it sounds interesting to you. Listed below are the points of Nelson’s ebook I’ll share my opinion on on this assessment:

Edible Flowers: A Look Inside

First Impressions

Within the ensuing weeks after I first opened my arduous copy of “Edible Flowers” I barely observed the transformation, however inside only a few days it was already sporting a couple of slap-dash bookmarks within the type of previous receipts and Submit-it placeholders, and I’d discovered a spot for it on my nightstand.

A close up top down vertical image of a cheesecake decorated with edible flowers.

That is that type of ebook. It has each holding energy as a reference and leisure worth because it provides dozens of accounts and remembrances shared as “Flower Eater” anecdotes.

Inside the 250+ pages, Nelson shares data of various breadth and size on not less than 103 styles of edible flowers, extra in case you rely various kinds of alliums and citrus individually.

Most are widespread in cultivation in North America and Europe. Some could also be foraged from the wild as effectively, and plenty of are native crops.

Relying on the place you reside and whether or not you hang around with floral foodies or not, you might discover dozens of bizarre choices amongst these. However even bloom-eating aficionados are certain to select up recommendations on a couple of that haven’t but landed on their plates.

Have you ever heard of dittany? Mallow? Navajo tea? Ever eaten hollyhocks or lilacs?

Having a style of every of those appears potential, fascinating even, as you web page by way of this alphabetical checklist of edible delights. And the sheets of pasta adorned with recent blooms look nearly too fairly to eat.

A close up vertical image of a cook making pasta that has edible flowers in the dough.
Photograph credit score: Agostino Galvez.

However above all, this ebook is inspiring.

Oh, on a realistic degree, it’ll in all probability make me need to develop and decide much more edible flowers within the coming seasons, past the borage, nasturtiums, and pansies I already domesticate and harvest commonly.

However I discover essentially the most inspiration in the best way Nelson dives headfirst into the necessary subjects surrounding edible blooms, be they historic or philosophical, sensible or amusing, anthropological or trending now.

As she notes in her introduction, “We dwell with flowers, and typically for them.” And with the assistance of this ebook, you possibly can dwell to eat them, too.

Writer and Contributors

Monica Nelson is a author, editor, designer, and artwork director primarily based in New York who says “it was necessary to foster a way of immersion” when designing this ebook and photographing the flowers which are featured.

Some could know her because the founding artistic and picture director of Wilder Quarterly, {a magazine} about exploring and having fun with the pure world.

A close up vertical image of freshly picked pansies in the palm of a hand.

Photographer Adrianna Glaviano, primarily based in New York and Milan, has collaborated with varied artists, magazines, and types to shoot images throughout varied classes together with meals, journey, artwork, structure, and vogue.

The ebook additionally attracts on the expertise of 30 contributors together with Argentinian director and photographer Agostina Galvez; New York-based artist Laila Gohar, who makes use of meals to create sculpture; Anna Morton, the founding father of Leaves and Flowers, a botanical tea firm primarily based in Berkeley, California; and plenty of extra!

Part by Part

Right here’s what drew me in and in addition stored me coming again to Nelson’s ebook:


Boy, howdy! The introduction to this ebook leaps into motion after simply 4 sentences sketching out an encounter between the writer and a flower-eating iguana.

A close up vertical image of white flowers on a dark background.

As a reader who’s equal elements pragmatist and artwork appreciator, I loved the best way Nelson jumps in with each ft after stating, “The impulse to stuff flowers into your pockets is probably extra pure than to create an elaborate association with them, the urge to eat them more true than to look at them wilt slowly. […] Flowers exist by attracting consideration; they depend on impulse.”

What follows in 5 quickly-read pages is a brief summation of the lengthy historical past of consuming flowers.

She wraps up by bringing us to the current, a time whereby eating places have popularized edible blooms, and we as gardeners are poised to proceed the pattern with our efforts.

In direction of the top of this part, Nelson states her function, a mission I believe the ebook totally realizes. The writer doesn’t intend for the work to behave as a definitive information, however somewhat as an “inspiring primer.” She writes, “My hope is that this ebook will spark curiosity and set readers off in various instructions.”

Probably the most readily actionable recommendation within the ebook comes on the finish of the introduction, in a single pithy, boiled-down, and extra-informative web page entitled “How one can Eat Flowers.”

It offers the mandatory cautions about not consuming any flowers that will have been uncovered to herbicides, or that would conceivably be poisonous.

This part additionally outlines how and when to gather your blooms, wash them, and put together them for drying if wanted.

Shifting alongside by way of the following 242 pages with entries on 100+ flowers you possibly can eat, beginning with acacia and ending with zinnia, Nelson actually covers the gamut from A to Z. We’ll check out this portion of the ebook subsequent.

Core Protection

The number of botanical and culinary information contained in “Edible Flowers” is what brings the gardener/reader again to cross-reference and thumb by way of the pages for inspiration. Nevertheless it’s additionally a trove of anecdotes and lore, a lot of it completely pleasant.

A close up vertical image of a sunflower set on kraft paper.

Among the many “Flower Eater” literary efforts from varied contributors, I particularly loved artwork author and writer Fanny Singer’s remembrance of arranging bouquets of violets a Parisian flower vendor, and British novelist Hermione Hoby’s story of the significance of edible flowers in household lore, saying one among her “finest childhood malapropisms was asking if somebody was ‘casting nasturtiums’ on another person’s character.”

The core of the ebook, the heft, comes from the person write-ups on edible blooms.

The broad scope of those contains natural blooms like thyme and tarragon; showy flowers like hibiscus, fuchsia, and cockscomb; and blossoms from vegetable crops which are already firmly positioned throughout the culinary realm, like squash and onions.

Every within the roundup is described when it comes to its botanical and historic origin, together with notes on plant kind and bloom time, although some are detailed extra extensively than others.

Whereas many entries function taste notes and describe beneficial culinary makes use of for the flowers, some are extra centered on different elements of the plant at hand. Choose varieties additionally embrace an anecdote from one of many extra contributors to the ebook.

These are recent and interesting, and pretty literary. Should you’re anticipating easy how-to data, I hope these additions are a pleasing shock.

Cooking with Flowers

Nelson says culinary use “provides an additional part to the life cycle of a flower.” The recipes included within the ebook function one other excessive level, and these come from a panoply of cooks, bakers, cooks, and meals artists.

I’ve to be sincere right here: A couple of of the recipes have extra novelty worth than value for the typical dwelling prepare dinner, except maybe you might be looking out for a brand new method to strive or a novel challenge.

For instance, I’m in all probability not going to combine up a batch of hopping clover kombucha any time quickly, nor was I tempted to attempt to make ewe milk yogurt with lilac. But when dwelling fermentation is your factor, there are a number of new and thrilling choices right here for you! Vinegar and cultured butter make an look within the recipe assortment as effectively.

Even so, I used to be intrigued. Descriptions of floral cookery I might by no means try at dwelling drew me in nonetheless, and have already impressed some fairly good trivia conversations at native out of doors gatherings.

This ebook additionally contains the important recipes which are accountable for drawing many people to consuming flowers within the first place.

A dish of leafy greens and blossoms is a flexible meal-starter for spring, for instance, and the recipes for candied violets and rose syrup are very similar to meals made generally over a century in the past, but good for adorning modern-day confections as effectively, completely scrumptious and versatile.

Again Matter

Following the recipes, readers will discover two useful indices, in addition to sources and a closing thanks message from the writer.

Anecdotes from contributing writers may be positioned based on title and writer within the desk of contents on the entrance, and the flowers included all through the ebook are listed alphabetically. Every particular person entry additionally features a checklist of pages the place photographs of the plant could also be discovered.

A close up vertical image of borage growing in the garden.

And I might add that these photographs, some matte and others printed on shiny paper, are stunningly colourful, some depicting crops as they develop in nature, others displaying their use in recipes. Nonetheless others are organized extra artfully, laid on a scanner or pressed between glass and held as much as the sunshine.

However readers will doubtless discover the index of crops based on widespread title helpful as effectively, and a corresponding checklist based on botanical (or Latin) title can also be included. Pictures are italicized whereas web page numbers for written entries seem in plain textual content.

A brief checklist of farms, gardens, and different flower purveyors, together with not less than a couple of the place flowers had been sourced for taking images that seem within the ebook, is adopted by a listing of steered additional studying, and a listing of contributors with quick bios of every.

Uncommon Edible Flower Alternatives

I don’t need to challenge my very own expertise onto readers too heartily, however I did discover it refreshing to see that so lots of the flowers profiled right here struck me as being a bit uncommon.

A close up horizontal image of hibiscus flowers on a white surface.

Together with the anticipated selections, Nelson particulars some much less doubtless blooms that many gardeners could not understand are edible – camellias, for instance, and yucca

I suppose it is dependent upon your perspective – the place you backyard, and whether or not you’re an previous hand or a newbie relating to consuming recent flowers as a part of your meals. Both approach, this ebook presents the chance for all readers to strive one thing new.

A few of what was recent and novel to me would possibly already be in your plate or floating in your soup each night! However have you ever tried banana flowers or dittany tea? New delights await, pricey reader.

Listed below are 4 of Nelson’s choices that I personally discovered to be a bit offbeat, as a sampling to entice you. Even when I don’t finally experiment with these myself, they’re effectively value considering as additions to the menu.


This decorative vine, one you’ve in all probability seen draping itself over modest stone cottages in Los Angeles or climbing excessive fences in southern Florida, has colourful bracts you possibly can eat recent or steep to make bougainvillea tea.

How cool is that?


The flowers from this invasive vine that plagues the southern US are usually not ordinarily among the many first flower varieties that leap to thoughts within the firm of extra typical edibles like delicate violets or peppery nasturtiums.

However Nelson factors out that those that scorn the plant are lacking out on the chance to sup on the flowers, which she explains are appropriate as an ingredient in jelly and sorbet, or combined with collard greens for a fast sauteed facet dish.

What higher strategy to eliminate invasive crops may there be than to eat them!


The data supplied on this lovely water flower contains some poetic waxing about Homerian poems and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” earlier than getting all the way down to brass tacks.

Apparently, this mystical bloom is often battered and fried or made into jelly. New to me, widespread to others, certain to be completely scrumptious.


These favorites from Holland originated in Persia, Nelson explains, and the edible petals have a “vibrant, lettuce-like taste and a watery, cucumber texture.”

She recommends tulip petals as curvaceous containers for dip, too.

Closing Ideas

I solely have a couple of quibbles with “Edible Flowers,” and none of them are substantial sufficient to decrease my enjoyment.

The mushy background colours of the pages in buff, grey, and light-weight khaki are restful and complement the textual content all through the vast majority of the ebook. However the darker, burnt orange tint of the pages within the recipe part doesn’t work as effectively.

A close up vertical image of a flower bouquet wrapped in kraft paper.

This shade could be lovely on a front room wall, however right here it’s slightly too darkish, and I discovered it a bit tough to rapidly learn the textual content of the recipes. These are printed in a cream-colored reverse kind.

Additionally, I might have favored to see not less than a couple of extra sentences-worth of knowledge for every of the distributors listed by title and state or with an online deal with within the “Flowers” checklist that comes after the indices. I might like to know not less than slightly bit extra about who these of us are and what they added to the ebook.

The security of consuming sure crops additionally got here to thoughts for me whereas studying. The entry for Indian paintbrush, for instance, says it’s “totally edible,” whereas the “Flower Eater” anecdote notes, “Indian paintbrush is a flower that ought to be consumed carefully. Horses have died from consuming too many. The crops accumulate selenium from the soil. […] In massive quantities, it’s a poison.”

My editor right here at Gardener’s Path additionally identified that it was mildly alarming to find a reference to candy peas in a narrative about adorning a toddler’s birthday cake, with a be aware that reads “not pleased with that, however a determined mother will go to nice lengths for her little one.”

Was the writer not proud as a result of these blooms had been gleaned from a area people backyard, or as a result of they’re toxic, as famous in direction of the start of the ebook in a listing entitled “Don’t eat these widespread flowers”? Together with such a point out in a contributing author’s anecdote appears questionable at finest, however not less than the flowers weren’t touted as a part of a recipe.

Snap pea flowers, however, are edible, and these have their very own entry within the ebook.

It’s additionally unclear why poppies, for instance, are included with their very own entry and several other photographs, whereas the outline explains that the sphere poppy ought to be approached with warning and states, “Most poppy species are fairly poisonous when ingested, and contemplating the dangerous properties of even the edible species of the flower, sorting the protected from the poisonous requires excessive vigilance.”

Because the previous adage states, the dose makes the poison. A press release on the copyright web page notes that the flowers referred to on this ebook are usually acknowledged to be protected and features a reminder to readers to keep away from consuming in massive portions, consuming inedible elements or misidentified crops, and so forth. Please proceed with warning.

A close up vertical image of bachelor's button flowers growing in the garden.

It’s famous that among the flowers included could be put to finest use as a purely decorative garnish, and it could be finest to eschew consuming not less than a couple of of those altogether.

There are a number of edible flowers talked about in recipes – calendula and black locust tree blossoms, for instance – that don’t seem within the A to Z descriptions. This looks like a missed alternative, as these extra palatable (and unhazardous) blooms may have served as stand-ins for a couple of of the extra controversial ones.

It’s maybe shocking that a couple of quarter of the crops included within the A to Z compendium are usually not truly pictured within the ebook, although you gained’t miss them except you had been maybe flipping by way of searching for a visible to pair with an outline. And you might uncover an error or two within the index when trying to find photographs as effectively.

These are minor objections, although, in gentle of the writer’s supply of web page after web page of relatable anecdotes, thought-provoking trivia, and mouthwatering recipes.

I all the time like an informational ebook with a assured tone, saying “right here is a few information you should utilize tomorrow in case you select,” and this ebook undoubtedly has that vibe.

I take into account it a keeper, each for the gardener and for the house prepare dinner who’s new to edible flowers, in addition to bloom-eating veterans who want a refresher – and maybe a recipe for candied violets and a chuckle about “casting nasturtiums.”

A Compendium of Edible Delights for Floral Foodies

From the gorgeous to the whimsical to the downright odd, from candy to spicy – to not notably tasty in some circumstances, from the normal and time-honored to nouveau delicacies, “Edible Flowers” serves as a formidable assortment of simply over 100 worthy edible blooms, certain collectively in a gorgeous hardcover ebook.

It’s certain to be loved, whether or not you learn it from cowl to cowl, or merely dip in or cross-reference everytime you want slightly floral foodie inspiration.

A close up of the cover of the book "Edible Flowers: How, Why, and When we Eat Flowers."

Edible Flowers

Are you already conversant in this detailed labor of affection from Monica Nelson, Adrianna Glaviano, and a pair dozen contributors?

In that case, please do share any feedback you’ve gotten from studying this ebook within the feedback part beneath. Or seize a replica now on Amazon and get again to us later – we’ll be ready for you!

And in case you’re curious about discovering extra worthy additions to your backyard library, peruse these ebook evaluations subsequent:

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