Carnations on the Plate: An Insight into Their Edibility

Carnations are beautiful flowers from the Dianthus genus. These herbaceous perennials have fragrant flowers that give off a spicy, sweet scent similar to cloves. In this article, we’ll find out whether carnation flowers are edible and how you might use them in the kitchen.

Are Carnation Flowers Edible?

Are Carnation Flowers Edible?

Carnations (Dianthus) have gorgeous star-shaped flowers with frilly petals. These flowers bloom on stems that emerge from clumps of slender, grass-like foliage. However, only carnation flowers are edible. The leaves and stems of carnation plants are mildly toxic and can cause stomach discomfort and vomiting or diarrhea.

It’s also worth noting that many carnations flowers that have been purchased from a florist are likely to have been treated with some form of pesticide or herbicide at some point, which isn’t safe for human consumption.

Whilst many types of carnation flowers can be consumed in various ways, it’s best to source edible carnations from organic producers or suppliers that clearly label the flowers as fit for human consumption. 

These petals can be added to salads or used as garnishes for cakes. Carnation petals can also be candied. In France, carnation petals are often distilled to create an alcoholic liqueur.

Carnations can also be used to make herbal tea. The flowers are picked and dried before being added to boiling water. Carnation tea has several potential benefits, including strengthening metabolism and improving blood circulation.

Carnation flowers are known for their sweet, spicy scent, similar to cloves. The taste of carnation flowers reflects this fragrance. The flowers may also have a tangy, slightly peppery taste.

For more, see our in-depth guide to popular flowers that are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets.

Do Carnation Flowers Have Medicinal Benefits?

Do Carnation Flowers Have Medicinal Benefits?

Carnation flowers are not only edible, but they may also have medicinal benefits. They have been used in herbal medicine to alleviate various issues. Carnations can reduce swelling and inflammation while soothing the nervous system.

They are also used to relieve menstrual cramps, muscle aches, and symptoms of menopause. In addition, carnations have been used to treat stomach aches, fever, and muscle spasms. The essential oil derived from carnations can also help treat skin problems like eczema or other issues like toothaches.

Carnations can also help reduce stress and anxiety, especially when used to make herbal tea. Carnation tea may also help tackle mental health problems like depression.

How to Harvest Carnation Flowers

How to Harvest Carnation Flowers

Carnation flowers are the only edible part of these herbaceous perennials. As such, it’s important to harvest them properly. Don’t harvest the leaves or stems, as these are slightly poisonous.

Here’s a quick guide to harvesting carnation flowers:

  1. Make sure that your tools are clean and sharp before harvesting carnation flowers. Sterilize your tools using a 5% bleach solution to reduce the risk of spreading diseases.
  2. Only harvest flowers from carnations grown using organic methods. Plants bought from garden centers may have been treated with pesticides.
  3. Examine your carnations, looking for healthy flowers. Don’t pick any fading flowers.
  4. Cut each flower head just above a node or unopened bud lower down on the stem. This should encourage the carnation to produce more flowers.
  5. Remove the white part at the base of the flower, as this, unfortunately, has a bitter taste.
  6. Get rid of the sepals and stamens of each flower. Only the petals themselves are edible.
  7. Wash the petals gently in clean water before gently patting them dry.
  8. Use the carnation petals as garnishes for salads or cakes. Alternatively, add them to other dishes to add a sweet, spicy flavor. You can also dry the petals and use them to make carnation tea.

Are Carnation Flowers Edible FAQs:

Can You Eat the Carnation Flower?

Carnation flowers are edible and have a mild, sweet, spicy flavor similar to cloves or nutmeg. You can also use the flowers to make herbal tea. However, the leaves and stems of carnations shouldn’t be consumed as they are mildly toxic.

Are Carnations Poisonous if Ingested?

Carnation flowers are not poisonous if ingested and have many culinary uses. However, carnation leaves and stems are slightly toxic if eaten. Carnation stems, and leaves can cause stomach discomfort.

What Are the Health Benefits of Carnation Flower?

Carnations may have some health benefits, primarily when the flowers are used to make herbal tea. They can calm the nervous system and reduce swelling and inflammation. In addition, carnations have also been used to treat stomach aches, fever, muscle spasms, and menstrual cramps.

What Can Carnation Petals Be Used For?

Carnation petals are edible and have various culinary uses. The petals can be used as garnishes for salads or cakes. Carnation flowers can also be used to make herbal tea.

What Part of Carnation Is Poisonous?

The stems and leaves of carnations are mildly toxic to humans. If ingested, these parts may cause stomach irritation and discomfort. Carnation flowers aren’t poisonous and can be safely consumed.


Wrapping Up

Carnation flowers are edible and can be used as salad or cake garnishes. Carnation flowers have a sweet, spicy taste and can also be used to make herbal tea. However, carnation leaves and stems shouldn’t be consumed as they’re mildly toxic. Consuming carnation stems or leaves may result in stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and vomiting.

For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, the uses and benefits of carnation flowers, the best companion plants for carnations, tips on managing non-flowering carnations, beautiful flowers that pair well with carnations, and how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden.


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