Don’t Eat the…Daisies?



Southern Living says that some of the best edible flowers are borage (taste like cucumbers), marigold (cheaper version of saffron), hibiscus (cranberries), pansies (grassy/minty), roses (fruity), violets (sweet), and nasturtiums (peppery). I’ve also read that many daisies are sweet to eat. In addition, not only are the blooms of nasturtiums edible, but the leaves also have a peppery flavor, and the buds may be marinated to make something like a caper! I’ve tried nasturtium leaves and like the flavor. I may have snuck a few of them into our salads that last summer I lived in Michigan. Shhhhhh…don’t tell!


For as long as I can remember, gardening has been important in my life. From childhood, central memories of my father feature him either gone to work or outside tending our grass and gardens. The lawn was lush, flowers gorgeous, and vegetables abundant. His mother was also an avid gardener, so he started young by helping her at home. As a teen, he cared for the yard of a local general practitioner and his wife, and Dad learned a great deal from them. Carrying his knowledge and love of things that grow into the future, he did his best to make sure that our own yard always looked pretty, even on a tight budget. As the years passed, my mother had more time and helped him a great deal, as well. It was a passion they shared.


baby Becky with flower fixed
Baby Becky ponders whether to sample a flower

When their three children were still young, they wanted to be sure we understood that all parts of growing things aren’t always edible. Yes, our giant rhubarb was amazing, but those leaves are poisonous! Toadstools in the yard were NOT mushrooms, and berries growing on bushes were best left for the birds. Occasionally, we helped with some of the weeding or harvesting and were told never to eat anything out of the garden without permission. This concept caused a bit of family friction at one time, I remember. My paternal grandparents lived a few blocks away and grew tall sumac bushes in their back yard.

Staghorn Sumac

One time we were at their house and Grandpa took us kids for a walk outside. While in back, he urged us to try some sumac berries. I hesitated, but was too shy to say no. Besides, he was an adult, so should know if it was safe. I remember the red berries tasted quite sour and not at all what I expected. When we showed up back indoors with red stuff around our lips, Mom was first worried and then started fuming. Dad tried to smooth things over and assured her the red variety of sumac was safe. Turns out, my father was right and had learned about the safety of that plant the hard way, through a humorous childhood experience of his own. That’s a story for another day!       ~Becky

Becky and Dad wheelbarrow fixed
Me and Dad

44 thoughts on “Don’t Eat the…Daisies?

  1. I love nasturtiums to look at and I have contemplated their abundant leaves, but haven’t tried eating them yet. A presenter at the Chelsea Flower Show popped a pansy in his mouth – the first I knew that you could eat them! When Mum and Dad bought their first house when I was six, Dad dug and planned the little garden on graph paper! He soon had vegetables, flowers and fruit trees. I had my own plot and have loved gardening since. After five years the garden was lovely then we emigrated to Australia, where English gardening experience was not much help, but that’s another story.

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  2. Ooh, I love these stories. I was just craving garden cucumbers from my grandparents’ garden this morning. The rhubarb remark reminded me that we used to take a few stalks and dip them in sugar after we got back from weeding. Thanks for this. I love your photos too.

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      1. It’s an annual. Small blue flowers, big prickly leaves. Not an elegant plant, but one that’s good in a corner of the herb garden. It does seed around if you let it. (And yet, there are no more of them in my garden, for some reason.)

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  3. I enjoyed reading your memories of gardening with your family. (The accompanying photos of you as a wee one are very sweet!) My mother had a garden when we lived in Vermont, and for some reason the only vegetables she was able to grow successfully were zucchini, from which she made pickles. She referred to her tomatoes as “bullets.”

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  4. I learned quite a bit here today, Becky. I have nasturtiums in my garden for the first time ever but have not as yet tried them. I did not know you could eat pansies. Thank you for describing the flavor before I tried eating these things. Love this and thank you.

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    1. The poisonous ones are white, so really can’t be mistaken. You can buy dried sumac for use in cooking, and it has a citrus flavor. Of course, we still don’t want kids just picking stuff outside to eat! Thanks for reading:)

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  5. That’s a wonderful story about your grandfather and the sumac! 🙂 I’m interested to hear your dad’s adventure.

    Love that gardening was such a part of your childhood. It was for me too, Becky––my grandmother had a big garden in the backyard, as did our next door neighbor Theresa. She was from Sicily!

    Thanks for a great post. Have a good rest of your week, and blessings to you.

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  6. I tried fiddleheads at a restaurant some time ago – they were delicious!

    A friend of mine has also made dandelion wine….it’s not very good, but has somehow gotten better as it ages. I think she plans on trying again one day!


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