Finding wildflowers in your food

Yelena Kisler
Staff Writer

Early area settlers knew it, and so did Native American tribes before them, this area is rich with food sources, including many plants. Every local has their favorite spot to find blackberries in the summer and leeks in the winter. But did you know there are also a number of edible flowers that might be growing right next to your house?
Most of us don't think to include flowers in the meals we prepare, but they can add a pop of color and flavor to an otherwise boring salad, or a plain cake.
One of the most common, and overlooked flowers is the dandelion. Every portion of the plant is edible, and the flowers, while still in the yellow stage, can add a nice bit of color to a spring salad.
Mallow and wild radishes, which can both be found in disturbed areas, can also add a nice bit of color and flavor to a dish when eaten raw. The wild radish has a spicy kick to its flavor.
Area native and horticultural expert based out of UC Davis in California, Rachel Spaeth, said disturbed areas are "usually road cuts or other places that are frequently agitated by humans."
Another widespread flower is the orange daylily which can be found in many spring ditches throughout the area and is often mistaken for a tiger lily. Both flowers are part of the Hemerocallis family and are not true lilies. Their flower petals can be added to a salad, or to decorate the top of a cake or pie while fresh. They can also be dried and added to clear broth soups.
A 2014 Mother Earth News article suggests sautéing the leaves similar to how you would with spinach. As for the flowers, "in addition to sprinkling them fresh on salads and using them as colorful garnishes, violets may be candied and made into syrup," the article stated.
So get out there and add some color to your next summer salad with one of these tasty wildflowers.