Eat your begonia flowers!

While people have been eating flowers forever, they have never been trendier than they are right now. Some are used mainly for their appearance, but others taste as good as they look. One of the more flavoursome flowers is the begonia. These fleshy-stemmed plants have been cultivated for their colourful blooms for centuries, and numerous hybrids have been bred from the 900 or so species that are found in the wild.

Two particular hybrid cultivars have found their way into the hearts and diets of modern society. The flowers are eaten fresh for their slightly bitter citrus or lemon flavour, while texturally they are crisp and moist, which makes them a great addition to salads and sandwiches. They’re especially suited to fish dishes and other meals where lemon is an important accompaniment. These tasty morsels can also be added to soups and pastas, and also make for an attractive garnish on dinner plates. A creative option is to dip begonia petals in yoghurt to create an unusual dessert that is sure to get tongues wagging at a dinner party. The colourful flowers also add another dimension to creative cocktails served with or without alcohol.

The specific types used as edible flowers are the large tuberous begonias (Begonia x tuberhybrida) and the lesser wax begonias or bedding begonias (Begonia x semperflorens). The tuberous types are not common in local gardens, but the wax begonia is one of the most commonly planted summer bedding plants. Flowers are plentiful and easily accessible to most gardeners, but be aware of pesticide usage around plants that may be considered for eating and remember to wash the flowers thoroughly before eating.

The Gardener