Edible wild flowers can be some of the most fun and fulfilling wild plants to forage. As well as being colorful and beautiful, they are often very nutritious and full of flavor.
Most of them are sweet and can be eaten raw, but a great way to enjoy them year-round is to dry them. Flower teas are an amazing treat in the winter.
During the warm season, you could harvest a few different kinds of flowers, dry them and store them in separate jars. Then, whenever you wish for a taste of summer, you can mix and match to create a different herbal tea every time.
Many of these wildflowers can also be easily grown. They will add beauty to your garden and attract pollinators and birds.
As with all wild plants, be careful when foraging. Always do your research first, making sure you identify the plant by its scientific name before picking it. Always forage with moderation, taking care of not depleting the plant’s resources.
The only exception is with some invasive species that are actually very difficult to stop from spreading, such as kudzu and Japanese honeysuckle.
- Related article: What Wild Plants Are Edible?
Let’s take a look at 15 of the most common wild edible flowers that grow in the United States. This list is only a portion of the hundreds, if not thousands, of edible wildflowers!
1. Viola Flowers (Viola odorata)
Wild viola flowers have been imported from Europe and are now naturalized in most parts of the country. They are some of the earliest flowers to bloom in late winter or at the first signs of spring.
Violas are very easy to cultivate, as they are prolific flowers that spread quickly and thrive on moist, shaded soils. Many varieties of violas are grown as ornamental flowers, such as the pansy.
Wild violas have edible flowers and leaves, so the entire plant is edible. The flowers are the best tasting part of the plant, with their mild flavor and silky texture. The petals make a nice tea and can be candied to enrich desserts. Both the petals and the leaves can be used to garnish salads.
Violas have also been used as a traditional remedy for many conditions, from skin problems to high blood pressure. What is certain is that this plant is rich in antioxidants, especially the leaves.
2. Coneflowers (Echinacea species)
Coneflowers can be mistaken for daisies, as they belong to the same family and look similar. This plant is native to the US and it might be one of the oldest medicinal plants, well-known to Native Americans.
These flowers can be easily found in open woods and fields in the eastern and central states, where they bloom in midsummer and last until the first frosts.
There are 9 different species that grow in North America, with the most common being Echinacea purpurea, with purple flowers. Coneflowers are easy to grow and don’t require much care, just plenty of sun.
Coneflowers are not only beautiful, but they also have a sweet fragrance and an unusual peppery flavor. The petals can be used raw to add color to your dishes, but they also make a strong-tasting herbal tea.
The leaves and roots are also edible, but they mostly have medicinal uses. Echinacea is rich in flavonoids and other beneficial compounds that make it an excellent plant to strengthen the immune system and treat cold and flu symptoms.
3. Wood Sorrel Flowers (Oxalis species)
There are many different species and varieties of wood sorrel flowers common throughout North America, with flowers and leaves in different colors. The most common are white and yellow sorrel.
The leaves look similar to clover, which is also edible, but not as tasty. Wood sorrel is not to be confused with other plants with a similar common name, such as wild sheep sorrel and common sorrel.
All of these have the same citrus flavor, but the wood sorrel is the only one with edible flowers. Several species of wood sorrel are grown as ornamental flowers.
Both the leaves and flowers of wood sorrel are sour and reminiscent of lemon, with the flowers being a bit sweeter. They are perfect for salads and soups, but also for fresh desserts. Wood sorrel is also an amazing trail snack, since it has a very high percentage of water and contains many electrolytes.
The molecule that helps it alleviate thirst and gives it its signature lemony taste is oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is also present in spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and many other commonly consumed vegetables.
4. Daisies (Bellis perennis)
Also called common daisies or English daisies, these flowers are native to Europe but are now naturalized in most temperate regions, including the Americas.
Daisies prefer open areas and are common in fields. They are used as a bedding plant in agriculture, but they are also grown for their ornamental value and white flower petals.
The flowers are edible but can have a bitter taste. Their best use is as decorations for salads and cupcakes. Daisies can also be added to soups and used for tea.
Like many bitter plants, they are good for digestion. The leaves can also be eaten, both raw and cooked, and have astringent properties.
5. Chicory Flowers (Chicorium intybus)
Chicory is a tall weed that was introduced from Europe and is now widespread in North America. It’s common in dry fields, abandoned lots, and along roads. It’s easy to recognize because of the sky-blue color of its flowers.
When not in bloom, this plant’s leaves can be mistaken for those of similar species, such as the dandelion. Fortunately, all similar weeds are edible.
The flowers aren’t the only edible part of the plant, but they are certainly the tastiest. They can be eaten raw in salads, but are also great when paired with strong flavors. Try them with hard-aged cheeses, for example.
The leaves can be very bitter, especially later in the year, so it’s best to eat them after boiling them. When boiling, you will want to change the water a few times.
The dried and ground roots are part of the typical New Orleans coffee blend, and they also make a fine coffee substitute by themselves, free of caffeine and low in acidity.
Chicory is rich in inulin, a probiotic, but also in minerals and vitamins.
6. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelions seem to be everywhere in the spring, but most people don’t know of their many uses. All parts of this plant are edible and very nutritious.
The dandelion flowers are rich in antioxidants, while the leaves contain good amounts of minerals and vitamins A, C, and K. Dandelions mostly grow in sunny areas.
If your harvest timing is right, you can take advantage of the whole plant. The first leaves to grow after winter are the most tender and have the least bitter flavor. The unopened flower buds can be preserved in extra virgin olive oil and taste similar to capers. The bright yellow flowers are very sweet.
They are amazing raw in salads and are the ingredient of many recipes, such as jellies, wines, syrups, and candies. The roots, just like chicory’s ones, make a good coffee substitute.
7. Coral Honeysuckle Flowers (Lonicera sempervirens)
Most honeysuckle species are invasive in the US, but the coral honeysuckle is one of the exceptions. Native to the eastern United States, this plant is a vine, like its Asian cousins.
It grows easily both in the wild and planted, and it’s not as fast-growing as other honeysuckles which will completely take over your garden.
Coral honeysuckle hasn’t been studied much by modern science, but this edible plant does have medicinal properties.
The leaves were used as medicine by Native Americans, and many people have reported eating their flowers without problems. The beautiful red, tubular flowers taste sweetest when harvested in the spring and are excellent in salads.
Do exercise caution though if you choose to harvest this plant. Never eat the berries, as they can cause nausea and vomiting.
8. Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Japanese honeysuckle is one of the invasive species from Asia that can now be commonly found in the wild in most of the country and North America. It’s a very vigorous plant that shouldn’t be planted, as it’s difficult to control and is detrimental to indigenous species.
If you find it in the wild though, there’s nothing wrong in picking the beautiful white or yellow flowers. Japanese honeysuckle grows best in shaded areas.
The Japanese Honeysuckle flowers are well-known because of their sweet nectar, which you can suck directly from the bottom for a quick trail snack. They can also be cooked and used for teas, puddings, or soups. The leaves of this plant are commonly eaten in some countries, but they might be toxic.
Also be careful of similar species, as there are many plants of the same genus which are poisonous in various degrees.
9. Wild Brassica Flowers (Brassicaceae species)
The many species of wild brassicas that can be found throughout North America are descendants of the more famous cultivated varieties imported from Europe. These include broccoli, kale, and cabbages.
Wild brassicas grow in open fields and along roads and are easy to recognize once you know them. The yellow flowers start blooming in late winter and early spring, which is the best time to harvest them. Brassica flowers can also be grown easily to have them available in your garden whenever you wish.
Wild brassicas are also called mustard flowers, as their sweet taste is reminiscent of true mustard. They are perfect in sandwiches and salads or to add flavor to any savory dish. The seeds can be used as a seasoning or processed to make mustard if you have enough patience.
The leaves should also be picked in early spring and they can be bitter, especially if they are not very young. It’s best to eat them boiled to make them more palatable. Brassicas are packed with vitamins A, B, and C.
10. Black Locust Flowers (Robinia pseudoacacia)
The black locust tree belongs to the legume family, like beans and lentils. Despite the name, the flowers are actually white, not black.
It’s mostly found in the southeastern United States, but some individuals also grow in other parts of the country, under the right conditions. Namely, full sun and no competitors.
They are fast-growing trees that don’t live very long. Depending on the climate, the flowers can bloom as early as mid-April or up until early June. Once they appear, they only last for about a week.
Despite the fact that the bark of the Robinia is covered in prickly thorns, the flowers can be easily picked as they form large clusters hanging down the branches.
They are some of the best flowers to eat raw: you’ll be amazed at how sweet they taste. If you manage to take some home, you can make stir-fries, salads, and omelets.
These flowers are reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
11. Redbud Flowers (Cercis canadensis)
Redbud trees are native to the eastern US, where they are frequent in hedgerows and mixed forests. This tree is also part of the legume family, like the black locust tree.
They are also commonly planted in parks and gardens, where they are much appreciated for the bright purple-pink flowers. These flowers are some of the earliest to bloom in the spring and they grow before the leaves do, so the effect is even more striking.
Redbud flowers are very tasty with a sweet flavor that resembles peas, with a hint of lemon. If picked early, they are very tender, but wait until they’ve opened, otherwise they won’t be as sweet.
These flowers can be eaten fresh or fried and they are rich in anthocyanins, which act as antioxidants. In addition, the twigs are also edible, and they are sometimes used as a meat seasoning. Native Americans used to eat the roasted seeds, too.
12. Wisteria Flowers (Wisteria sinensis)
Wisteria sinensis, also known as Chinese wisteria, is a vining plant native to Asia, from the legume family. It’s very common in the eastern United States, where it’s invasive in some areas.
Thanks to the abundance of beautiful lavender-colored flowers it produces, it has become the most popular ornamental vine worldwide. Normally, it climbs on supports such as walls and pergolas, but it can also be freestanding.
The sweet-smelling wisteria flowers form huge clusters that hang down from the branches. Their taste is quite sweet, and a bit pea-like. They can be eaten raw or cooked, taking care to remove the stems because they’re toxic.
In fact, all parts of the plant are poisonous except the flowers, as they contain a toxic glycoside. Even the flowers are best eaten in moderation, and only if you’re sure of what you’re eating.
13. Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva)
Daylilies are native to Asia, where they have a long history as a food crop. Centuries ago, they were introduced first in Europe and then in America, where now they can be easily found in the wild.
The daylily’s bright orange flowers are common throughout the United States in fields and along roads. Daylilies are also a popular ornamental plant. Innumerable varieties have been selected, but it’s not known if all of them are edible. To be safe, only pick the original wild one.
Daylilies are very popular in Chinese cuisine, where they are used in a variety of recipes. Some say their flavor improves if cooked, but they can also be used in salads and taste a bit like lettuce. The buds can be fried or eaten as a snack. The young tubers and leaves are also edible, raw or cooked.
Daylilies are rich in carotenoids, while the buds are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and proteins. Exercise some caution when eating this plant, as the flowers have laxative and diuretic properties. Only eat small quantities of the young shoots, and test a single flower first to make sure you’re not allergic.
14. Kudzu Flowers (Pueraria species)
Kudzu is a noxious weed native to Asia and naturalized in the United States. It’s a fast-growing vine that can suffocate the plants it grows on.
It was imported to America to control erosion and as animal feed, but has become widespread in almost all of the states. Kudzu does particularly well in the south, where its advance is seemingly unstoppable.
Kudzu flowers are traditionally used to make jellies, with a similar taste to grape jelly. They can also be eaten raw as an ingredient in salads. The roots are the most interesting part of the plant.
Rich in starch, in Asia they are a popularly used as culinary starch in many recipes. You can make flour from them to substitute cornstarch, or use them to make tea. All parts of the plant are rich in antioxidants.
15. Turk’s Cap Flowers (Malvaviscus arboreus)
Turk’s caps are best referred to with their scientific name, as many other unrelated plants have the same common one. Malvaviscus arboreus is native to the Gulf states, Mexico and Central America.
This plant can also be cultivated, which is often done in bird gardens, as it’s a favorite food for hummingbirds. These shrubs resemble small trees when fully grown and can be found at the edges of woods or covering forest floors. They prefer partial shade, but when cultivated they adapt to a wide range of conditions.
The Malvaviscus arboreus grows stunning red flowers that taste as good as they look. You can eat them raw for a sweet snack, cook them, or dry them for teas. The berries taste a bit like apples and can be eaten raw, but some prefer them in jellies or jams.
The leaves are an excellent source of antioxidants and minerals, and can be cooked like spinach. The berries are a great source of vitamin C.
Edible Wild Flowers Final Thoughts
There are so many different types of wildflowers out there that we could spend weeks just exploring them all. No matter the flowers that you find out in the woods, be sure that you are correctly identifying the plant before consuming it.
If you do feel adventurous or really hungry, only eat the plant raw in small amounts first. If you do get sick after eating it, you’ll know not to eat anymore.
Discover more about other edible plants in these articles: