Flowers for Food & Tea

flor de tiliaFlor de tila

In English we call these linden-tree flowers. They are sold in a dried, brown state, often scooped from bags. The tea made from these blossoms not only tastes good, but supposedly sooths a cough. Linden trees, Tilia occidentalis of the linden family, are native American, and are also known as basswoods.

Jamaica

We call these hibiscus flowers and they are sold in a dried, dark-red form. Technically, the "flowers" are actually fleshy, acid-tasting calyces and involucres of a flower (the nonsexual lower parts), not the flower itself. Jamaica blossoms are produced on an annual bush six or seven feet tall, Hibiscus sabdariffa, native to the Old World tropics. They can be eaten, but in Mexico the dried flowers are boiled in water for brewing a tea North Americans would recognize as Red Zinger herbal tea.

Colorín

Called coral-tree flowers in English, are edible, bright- scarlet blossoms from a small, native American tree, Erythrina americana of the bean family. The fried flowers are added to scrambled eggs or beans. The upland Nahua Indians add them to their peanut tamales.

squash flowers for eatingFlor de calabaza

These are squash flowers -- yellow-orange blossoms of the native Mexican vine Cucurbita pepo. Sold fresh, they are mainly cooked in tamales and tacos, where they have a slightly lemony taste. The hard stamens and pistils are plucked out, so you just eat the corollas.

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