Yes, alyssum flowers are edible. Many people might not guess that alyssum plants are edible since they don’t look like mint or any edible plant.
When tasting alyssum flowers for the first time, the experience will be quite shocking! They are spicy and peppery but have an appealing smell.
What Do Alyssum Flowers Taste Like?
For a first-time taster, alyssum leaves a confusing experience!
Alyssum is also known as “sweet alyssum” because of the flower’s honey-like scent. But, upon tasting them, you will find that their taste is far from their smell. Alyssum tastes peppery and may come with a slightly spicier kick than other mustards.
Luckily, the odd taste of alyssum flowers does not affect the plant’s ability to attract beneficial insects! Quite the opposite actually. Alyssum flowers have pollen and nectar. Two substances that are very attractive to key pollinating insects like bees and butterflies.
Other Edible Alyssum Parts
The entire alyssum plant boasts of being edible!
Flowers, seeds (mustard seeds), and leaves are all edible at the appropriate time.
- Leaves are mostly likened to horseradish as they can both be used and eaten in similar ways. They can be cooked just as other green leaves are but their taste means they are not for everyone!
- The seed pods containing alyssum seeds will change color from green to brown. But to get a better taste, you should harvest them while they are still green. You can use them with or without the pods.
- Collecting alyssum flowers for eating is best done when the flowers are not very old and are fully open.
How to Eat Alyssum?
Alyssum has a spicy and somewhat tangy taste which is not a bad thing. There are countless applications for alyssum flowers because of their unusual taste. Depending on what dish you are preparing, you can pick the alyssum part that best provides the required flavor.
- Salads usually need a subtle punch, alyssum flowers provide that and more.
- Crush your alyssum flowers and seed pods to release the punchy flavor and add it to a meat marinade.
- Garnish soups and other dishes by chopping up your alyssum flowers and sprinkling it over the top.
- Use alyssum flowers as a cooling rehydration snack by freezing alyssum flowers in ice cubes.
- You could even use alyssum in addition to horseradish to make a sauce or a dip.
Alyssum seed pods are best eaten when they are still green as after they turn brown they are not very palatable.
Other Uses of Alyssum
Besides being edible, you might be wondering what else this plant brings to your garden. Alyssum is the perfect garden plant, it has so many benefits besides coloring the garden and scenting it.
They attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Thus, it makes excellent companion plants to other garden plants that require pollination to fruit.
Alyssum is most popular for bringing natural insect predators to the garden. Examples are spiders, beetles, ladybugs, and lace wigs that are known to feed on aphids and even ants. So, you can plant alyssum next to plants that suffer from aphid or ant infestations.
If you live in a hot sunny country with average but well-draining soil, alyssum is one plant that won’t complain about such conditions.
Risks associated with eating Alyssum!
Anyone identifying a flowering alyssum plant may pick off a few flowers to eat, thinking it is harmless. But, there is one danger lying undetectable!
As is the case with most other edible flowering plants that grow in a garden that doesn’t use the organic approach to managing pests, chemical pesticides may be present.
This is bad news seeing as these are often heavy-duty chemicals containing harmful components. An even sadder truth is that they remain in the soil, and get taken up by plants, some of which are eaten by humans and animals.
Thus, you cannot pick and eat alyssum growing anywhere. You should go out of your way to find out if it has pesticides. If you are taking it from someone’s garden, ask them if they use pesticide, especially in that area of the garden.
NOTE- If you are an alyssum eater, it is best to eat alyssum that you have grown yourself from seed. This can assure your and your family’s safety.
What Do Alyssum Flowers Look Like?
Not many novel gardeners are aware of what an alyssum looks like. Even fewer would be able to identify what edible alyssum flowers look like! Alyssum flowers don’t exactly scream out at the eyes either.
However, when you consider the flower features of its family the Brassicaceae family and the alyssum, similarities appear.
Alyssum flowers have four petals and seed pods arranged in a spiral arrangement. Also, they have six stamens of which four are tall and two are short.
Flowers appear in a clump that features a sphere-like shape. Several clumps or just paired flowers can appear on a single stem. On the stems below the flowers are seeds that rest in pods that are green, brown, or yellow.
NOTE- The combinations of 4 petals, 6 stamens (4 tall, 2 short), and seed pods are a clear distinction of a Mustard family plant!
When it comes to color, alyssum flowers are mostly white. Or, they can have several shades of purple on a single plant, some even appear white! Other colors they are known to come in are pink, red, yellow, and even navy blue!
The more appealing colors have come about through modifications by cross-breeding. Through this technique, nurseries offer several varieties which incorporate colorful showy flowers and hardiness.
Yes, Alyssum flowers are edible. It’s not just the flowers that are edible. Seed pods containing seeds and leaves are also edible at the right time.
Alyssum flowers have a spicy taste which is not anything like their sweet odor. The flowers, seeds, and leaves have a range of applications in the kitchen. Also, alyssum uses its flowers to attract pollinators to the garden, making them an asset in the garden!
No alyssum plants are not toxic to humans or to animals for that matter! All parts are edible and not toxic at all. Although Hoary alyssum can be lethal to horses who may eat it as it gets mixed up with their fodder. It is not toxic to cats and dogs or children.
Alyssum has more of a peppery and spicy taste than anything distinguishing a sweet taste. Many people who taste the flowers after smelling them would get quite a shock as they do not taste anything as they smell.
No, alyssum is not toxic to dogs. It is edible to humans, cats, and dogs. However, one variant, Hoary Alyssum, is toxic to horses and can even be fatal if left unnoticed and untreated.