10 Edible, Herbal and Medicinal Flowers

From calendulas to sunflowers, find out how these edible and medicinal flowers can aid in your everyday life.

| February/March 2006

  • Grow beautiful echinacea — often called purple coneflower — and tap its immune-boosting power in homemade tinctures.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Calendula Flowers
    Annuals such as calendula, ammi, nasturtium, sunflower and alyssum are easy to grow and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    PHOTO: BARBARA PLEASANT
  • 214-052-Flowers-3-CMYK.jpg
    Annuals such as calendula, ammi, nasturtium, sunflower and alyssum are easy to grow and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    PETER NUTILE/COURTESY JOHNNY'S SELECTED SEEDS
  • Annuals such as calendula, ammi, nasturtium, sunflower and alyssum are easy to grow and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Annuals such as calendula, ammi, nasturtium, sunflower and alyssum are easy to grow and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Annuals such as calendula, ammi, nasturtium, sunflower and alyssum are easy to grow and attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Some of the prettiest woodland medicinals include pinkroot ('Spigelia marilandica'; shown here) and fragrant black cohosh ('Actaea racemosa'), which thousands of women use to ease the symptoms of menopause.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • You can add petals of day lilies to your salad for an extra serving of antioxidants.
    BARBARA PLESANT
  • Relax with lavender by placing sachets of dried flowers in your linen closets.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Yarrow attracts beneficial insects to the garden and makes a great dried flower.
    BARBARA PLEASANT
  • Long-blooming garlic chives look great in the garden, and the seeds make spicy sprouts for winter salads.
    BARBARA PLEASANT

  • Calendula Flowers
  • 214-052-Flowers-3-CMYK.jpg

We value beauty for its own sake, yet many colorful flowers have much to offer beyond their good looks. Some can be used medicinally, others are good to eat, and many provide food and habitat for beneficial insects. Some flowers are threatened by habitat destruction just like birds and other wild things, so growing flowers is simply a good idea. Give multipurpose flowers a bit of space in your garden and prepare to be amazed at what medicinal flowers can do for your health, your palate and your spirits.

Medicinal Flowers: Amazing Annuals

Annuals are flowers that grow from seed to bloom and produce seed in the course of one growing season. Annuals often bloom for a longer period of time than winter-hardy perennials and will do well in new soil that has been dug and amended with organic matter. You can sow the seeds of these plants directly in the garden.

If you’re a new gardener unsure of which little green things are weeds and which plants are flowers, you also can sow some seeds indoors in a small container and use the seedlings as visual guides. These annuals, as well as the perennials discussed later, bloom best if they receive at least six hours of sun each day. See “Woodland Wonders” later in this article, if your planting plans are limited by shade.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)



Whether you prefer your calendulas orange, yellow or somewhere in between, all are easy to grow in cool weather and bloom for weeks or months if you remove seed heads before they mature. Many cooks snip a few calendula petals into eggs or rice as "poor man’s saffron," and chickens fed calendula flowers lay eggs with darker yellow yolks. Calendulas make great cut flowers, but their greatest use may be as topical oils or creams for burned or injured skin. In a recent study of 254 breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, calendula ointment proved superior to the most widely used prescription product for preventing radiation burns. These latest findings are among a growing number of studies that validate calendula’s ability to help heal injured skin.

Want to make your own calendula first-aid oil? Molly Bunton of Molly’s Herbals in Mooresburg, Tenn., suggests drying the blossoms first, then combining them with olive or almond oil in a blender (2 ounces dried blossoms per 1 cup oil). Put the lumpy mixture in clean jars and keep them on a hot, sunny windowsill for two to three weeks, shaking them daily. Pour the infused mixture into a cloth bag and squeeze out the oil. Let the oil settle for a few days before straining it through good-quality paper towels. Bunton suggests keeping it from going rancid by squeezing the contents of one natural vitamin E capsule into every 4 ounces of the oil.

neeleyra
8/7/2017 1:32:05 PM

I always feel like a novice since there is so much more to learn about herbs. I love it but I've also used calendulas with rosemary and bee balm in creams for healing burns and such.


tuncayoco
5/15/2014 4:10:14 PM

There really useful plants such as calendula. I've read before; http://www.keyifvakti.com/kalendula-yagi-ne-ise-yarar-faydalari/ oil extracted from these plants are becoming very useful. has the characteristics of each of them individually, if you want to be fat if you want to drink the tea as a dem. Really useful information, thank you.


Mackhorist
4/4/2014 7:25:38 AM

Today, after reading this blog I learn new things about flowers. Till today I know flowers are used for decoration or for gifting, but now I knowing flowers medical uses. Mackhorist http://www.moysesflowers.co.uk/luxury-bouquet/







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