Common Flowers With Uncommon Culinary and Curative Properties
These common plants and simple wildflowers can make a colorful addition to your garden design even if you don’t intend to take advantage of their medicinal or culinary characteristics. That’s why we selected the half dozen featured here. You don’t have to harvest them to enjoy them. Just seeing them light up your yard is a pleasure. Most of them bloom all summer long and attract pollinators to help out with the rest of the garden.
Spicy, Savory and Starchy
Nasturtium is a hardy flowering plant that blooms in shades of orange, red and yellow. It is fast growing and blooms all summer. The entire plant is edible, but most people use the flowers in salads for their peppery taste. You can harvest flowers all summer because they regenerate every time you pick.
Nasturtium grows well in containers because it cascades over the sides. It can also be planted as a ground cover. A sunny slope will show them to best advantage. The vines will work their way down the slope providing vibrant color all summer long. An interesting side note about nasturtium is that it produces more blossoms when sited in soils that are less nutrient rich than the typical flower bed.
Pineapple Sage does well in containers and blooms for most of the summer. It’s a good one for attracting hummingbirds. Harvest the leaves. You can dry them and use as an herbal rub on fish. Drop a few leaves into a glass of iced tea, as you would a mint leaf, for a fragrant pineapple accent.
Jerusalem Artichoke is a common native plant that grows along creek beds and at the transition areas between forest and field. The plant grows about six feet tall and shows large yellow flowers from late July/early August to October. It attracts butterflies.
The root is the edible part. When served in restaurants Jerusalem Artichokes are usually called sunchokes. Check out this recipe for roasted sunchokes to see how tasty they look as a side dish.
Calming, Curing and Attracting Butterflies
Valerian is a tough perennial that attracts a lot of butterflies. The flower shows in pink clusters. They grow to about 18” tall. So they are best placed in the middle section of a border.
Valerian root is the most widely recognized herbal sedative. The effect of the herb is similar to valium. It is typically an ingredient in calming teas. The herb also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Yarrow is a perennial that has been cultivated to show a range of colors in addition to its natural yellow.
Is a medicinal herb that has anti-bacterial qualities. The leaves were used in traditional medicine to treat cuts and wounds. The flowers and leaves are used as an ingredient in herbal teas for treating cold symptoms.
Yarrow blooms in late May/early June and continues through end of August.
Lavender is a small shrub that grows to about 30″ tall. It blooms mid-May to end of August. Aside from its brilliant blossom clusters, this is an attractive plant. It’s fuzzy gray foliage is pleasing to look at even after the flowers are gone
The fragrance of this medicinal herb is widely used in aromatherapy for its calming effect. It also has antiseptic qualities when applied to cuts and bruises. Lavender is edible if you plant the culinary variety. Harvest the flowers and use in teas, or add to a spice mix with roasted vegetables.
If you plan to harvest your edible plants, we recommend that you consult with one of our certified horticulturalists. A gardening expert can help you choose the correct type of plant, advise on how to care for it and when to harvest.
If this article sparked a new interest in gardening with edible and medicinal flowering plants–good! Maybe you will enjoy reading Five Easy to Grow Edible Plants next…