Garden Plants You Might Not Know Are Edible

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

You may have noticed in recent years the culinary world has introduced all sorts of plants and edible flowers to food menus. If you have dined in a fancy restaurant, you might have even found yourself faced with a familiar-looking flower on the plate and thought to yourself, “Can I eat this?” The fact is, there are lots of plants out there that you might not know you can eat. A few of these edible plants might even be in your garden.

Some garden plants you might not know you can eat include dandelions, daisies, hostas, dahlias, violets, and hibiscus flowers. You can also eat sunflowers, and not just the seeds but the entire plant. Other popular plants you might not know you can eat include cattails, red clover, and acorns. Just make sure you can properly identify edible species before you try to eat them.

Nature is full of magic and surprises. One of Earth’s greatest marvels is how bountiful and giving it is. After all, for many centuries, people lived off the Earth. But over time, people have forgotten that many everyday garden plants are edible and full of nutrition. Keep reading to learn about many popular plants that you probably didn’t know you could eat.

Things To Know Before You Try New Plants From The Garden

Only Eat What You Can 100% Identify

Make sure before you test out some of these plants you didn’t know were edible that you are certain of what you are eating. Nature has ways of playing tricks on us, and many species look similar to one another. What you think is red clover could be something else. Make sure you are completely certain before tasting these plants.

Remember There Are Often Multiple Types Of The Same Species

It is important to know that sometimes there are lots of varieties of the same plant. Hibiscus, daisies, roses, and many other flowers have countless varieties. Make sure you only consume the varieties of plants that are known to be safe to eat and have the benefits listed below.

Just Because It’s Edible Doesn’t Mean It’s Delicious

This is a list of edible plants that you didn’t know you could eat. This does not mean these plants are delicious. Some of them are quite tasty and can add meaningful flavor to a meal or tea. Others may have some great medicinal purposes, but might not taste very good. Consider yourself warned.

13 Garden Plants You Might Not Know You Can Eat

1. Daisies

Daisies are a symbol of spring, love, and happiness. They are found in many floral bouquets throughout the warmer months and are found all over the world. In addition to being lovely white-petaled flowers, daises are also edible. Both yellow and white petals on daises are edible, as are the small leaves. They can taste a bit spicy and nutty and are a stunning accent to garden salads.

2. Dahlias

Dahlias are beautiful flowers and are found in many home gardens. In addition to offering color and elegance to any home garden, they can also be added to salads and meals. That’s right, dahlias are edible flowers. One interesting fact about dahlias is that while many varieties of these flowers are edible, they often have varying tastes, from nutty to spicy to water chestnut notes.

3. Celery Leaves

If you have only been eating the stalks of celery, then you are missing out. The leaves on top of celery are not just for garnishing Bloody Mary cocktails, but they are also edible. You can add these leaves to green juices, or dry them out and add them to a fragrant spice mix. These leaves are also a good source of calcium and vitamin E.

4. Hostas

Hostas are another popular garden plant. These plants slightly resemble asparagus, and they also taste similar to this vegetable. The leaves of hostas are also edible, and they taste like lettuce. You can eat the entirety of this plant, and it tastes nice in a sautee with other stir-fried vegetables.

5. Nasturtium

Nasturtiums are another beautiful flower that is safe to consume. These flowers have started to grow in popularity in the culinary world and can be found as a garnish, in salads, and even pressed into fresh-made tortillas. They are a great flower to plant in your garden, as they grow easily and spread. They work great with Mexican food and other savory dishes because they have a slightly peppery taste to them.

6. Milk Thistle

You may have seen milk thistle in pill form at a pharmacy, but did you know it is also a commonly grown plant in gardens? It is also not just a plant you can consume in pill form - milk thistle is also edible in other ways. You can use the leaves of this plant as a spinach substitute, and you can add the flowers to salads.

7. Dandelions

Dandelions might be considered weeds, but these flowers are not as bad as their reputation suggests. These yellow flowers might not be ideal additions to pristine green lawns, but they are edible. The leaves of the dandelion plant look similar to arugula and taste just as spicy. You can incorporate the flowers into teas or sprinkle them on salads.

8. Red Clover

Another flowering plant that is often considered a weed is red clover. Just like dandelions, red clovers are also edible “weeds.” These plants have a striking sweet flavor. These sweet little blossoms are great little garnishes for certain desserts or even fruit salads.

9. Hibiscus

Hibiscus flowers are beautiful decorations, and can even be worn on your ear if you are in an Aloha state of mind. But some parts of the world treasure this flower and use it for teas, juices, and other drinks. These flowers can be dried and they have a potent and slightly sour flavor and are delicious in tea with a bit of sweetness.

10. Cattails

If you have a small lake or marsh in your yard or nearby, then you might also have cattails. Believe it or not, these unique and curiously shaped plants are edible. The young shoots have a cucumber flavor, and other parts of the plant can taste like boiled cabbage when cooked.

11. Sunflower

Sure, everyone knows you can eat sunflower seeds, but did you know you can eat the entire sunflower plant? From the petals to the seeds to the leaves, and even the stalk, this giant flower is a bounty of nutrition. If their yellow beauty wasn’t enough to plant them in your yard, perhaps their nutritional value is.

12. Violets

Violets are yet another stunning flower that has found its way into the culinary landscape. Violets are presented on top of gourmet cupcakes, in ice cream, and even baked into bread. These flowers have a stunning purple color and have a slightly sweet taste. They are even a good source of vitamins A and C.

13. Acorns

Lastly, if you are wondering what to do with all the acorns that fall into your lawn from your oak tree, stop putting them in your compost container or on the curb with the fall leaves. You can eat acorns. Just like chestnuts and other nuts that fall from trees, acorns are completely edible, and even tasty when prepared properly. To get the best flavor from acorns, they need to be slow-roasted, or even leached.

Final Thoughts On Plants You Probably Didn’t Know You Can Eat

Even if you don’t have a vegetable garden, there may still be plenty of plants in your yard you can eat. Some popular flowers you might not know are edible are daisies, dandelions, dahlias, and the entirety of sunflowers. Hostas, red clover, and cattails are also edible. Before eating any new plant, you need to make sure it is the correct variety, and be aware that just because it is edible doesn’t mean it’s delicious.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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