The Edible Chrysanthemum: An Amazing Vegetable Plant
Autumn is the season when you can see chrysanthemums blooming everywhere, the emblematic flowers of All Saints' Day and the Day of the Dead. But did you know that there is an edible flower in the same plant family? Here is everything you need to know about the edible chrysanthemum.
What is this plant?
The edible chrysanthemum is a vegetable plant in the same family as ornamental chrysanthemums. Its botanical name is Chrysanthemum coronarium.
This plant is native to the Mediterranean basin and East Asia. In fact, it is highly valued in Japan and China, where it is called Shungiku or Golden Tang respectively.
Less spectacular for the ornamental or florist's varieties, this annual Chrysanthemum produces small yellow flowers (sometimes edged with white). Its light green leaves are thin and finely serrated.
It is an annual plant with deciduous leaves that blooms from July to September.
How to grow it?
The edible chrysanthemum is a rather easy plant to grow. It is usually grown in the ground, but can also be grown in pots or window boxes.
You can sow it in a dish or in the ground in April-May. As this plant is freezing, it should be installed in the garden when the risk of frost has passed.
You will need to sow in rows and then thin out your seedlings so that the plants are 20 cm apart. Favour a sunny exposure and a rich and well-drained soil.
This variety resists drought well and is content with moderate watering. Mulching the soil is recommended to retain moisture in case of drought.
How to use it?
This close relative of ornamental chrysanthemums has the main interest of being entirely edible. Indeed, in this plant everything can be eaten: the leaves and the flowers!
Edible chrysanthemum flowers can be harvested from July to September.
To eat them in salads or to garnish your dishes, pick them when they are still young.
With their beautiful yellow color, these flowers embellish dishes and give them a spicy flavor.
Note that the leaves are also edible. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads while the others are best prepared sautéed in a wok.
To enjoy the full flavor of the leaves, you should not overcook them. It is therefore advisable to add them to dishes such as soups and stews at the end of cooking.
You can harvest the leaves when the plant has reached about 20 cm in height, taking care to leave the heart of the plant intact to enjoy several successive regrowths.