Article by Adelle Bell
24 Aug' 2021

Edible flowers aren’t something new, but it has become a popular trend amongst restaurants, bakers, and foodies alike. 

Spring Flowers in South Africa
Spring Flowers in Namaqualand

People feast with their eyes and these beautiful, delicate flowers add the
WOW factor that draws you in immediately.  Not only do they add vibrance and colour, but also introduce new and unusual flavours to dishes. 

Uses for edible flowers

Edible flowers can be used in cooking and baking to add flavour and spice to almost any meal, dessert, or cake and also make for a striking presentation.  

In addition to these more obvious uses, many edible flowers also have medicinal properties and are used as an immune booster or the treatment of anything from headaches to burns, and stings. 

Spring Flowers in the Western Cape 

Take a drive on the N7 or West Coast road in Spring, which is also a fantastic time of year to incorporate an African safari, into your trip, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the most beautiful Spring flowers landscape in a palette of colours. From mid-August, people from all over the country flock to this region to see them in full bloom. You probably don’t know this, but some of these are entirely edible! 

Note: I do not encourage you to pick and eat these spring flowers as most of these may cause harm to your system and can be poisonous. 

Spring Time in South Africa
Spring Time in South Africa

Popular Edible Spring flowers

  • Snow bush (Eriocephalus Africanus)

Aromatic fynbos with a wild-rosemary flavour.  Dried it can be used as a seasoning with sea salt and a lovely accompaniment to Yoghurt style dips.

  • Pansy flowers (Viola spp)

Probably the most popular and well known, these bright flowers can be used to garnish any dish

  • Elderflower.

The flowers and berries are the only edible parts of this plant and are most famous for making elderflower champagne but can be mixed into tarts and jams.

Edible indigenous South African Plants

  • Sour Figs (Carpobrotus Edulis)

In addition to treating sunburn, bee stings, rashes, and sore throats, the fruits of this plant are often used to make jams and chutneys and the older pink flowers are deliciously sweet.  They flower between August to October and widespread in the Western Cape

  • Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia Violacea)

Great for stews and roasts or as a substitute for spinach and regular garlic. The plant is also known to ward off fleas, ticks, and snakes and is used to relieve sinus headaches. 

Useful tips

Edible flowers, especially the more delicate ones, are best prepared soon after harvesting but can be kept in the fridge for up to two days. I don’t suggest keeping them for long as they start losing some of their freshness. Do not assume all of them are indeed edible. 

Flowers from florists are usually sprayed with pesticides which can be very harmful to the system. Instead, opt to purchase from organic growers, and those marked explicitly in grocery stores as
edible. Why not try your hand at growing your own? You can purchase seeds from your local garden centre and not only will you have a vibrant spring garden, but will wow your friends with your restaurant-style presentation.

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