The first time you see a plateful of flowers, you might wonder what you did to the cook. But, edible flowers aren’t actually as unusual as they sound. Just like any other plant, some are safe and others aren’t, so you need to teach your child the difference so she doesn’t munch on your neighbors flower garden.
Learning about edible plants starts with knowing the plant parts. If your child can’t tell the difference between a petal and a stamen, she’ll never learn to identify safe flowers. Take the phrase “stop and smell the flowers” literally by examining live flowers and collecting some samples. Draw pictures of the flowers and break down the different areas for her. When you are finished, show her pictures of different flowers and ask her to name the parts.
Chat with your child about the kinds of flowers in the world. Explain that some are poisonous and will make her sick. Use words that are appropriate for her age. After she knows that some plants are edible while others can make her sick, discuss what people spray on plants. She should understand that some people spray plants to keep the bugs away and if a bug doesn’t want to eat a flower, she shouldn’t either. Flower shops are also not a place to get edible flowers because they spray color and preservatives on the flowers.
Time for you to do your own homework. Figure out what kind of edible plants are available in your area. Some common examples include rose petals, sunflowers and pansies. Create a collage of these flowers with your child so she knows what to look for. Go exploring and find the flowers that you want to eat. Watch her carefully to ensure she is finding the right flowers because some are toxic. Don’t let her eat any before you can examine them.
Now that you’ve collected your flowers, it’s time to prepare them for dinner. If a dinner of flowers sounds filling, you won’t need to do much else. But, if you have a heavy appetite, you might want to mix the flowers into your meal. For example, you can toss some pansies into your salad or make flavored cream cheese with nasturtium flowers and herbs. Lavender is wonderful with light cookies and sage flowers work nicely with pork.