What Types of Chrysanthemums Are Edible?

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Chrysanthemums come in a variety of colors and flower types.
Chrysanthemums come in a variety of colors and flower types. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Chrysanthemums, also called mums, are flowering herbs that belong to the Aster family. The chrysanthemums available in the market are diverse. You can choose from over 30 species and several varieties within each species. All chrysanthemum flower petals are edible and are often an ingredient in tea; however, only the species Chrysanthemum coronarium has edible greens.

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Chrysanthemum coronarium, also known as garland mum or crown daisy, is an herb with small yellow or white flowers commonly used as an edible in Asia. Several varieties within this species include plants with rounded leaves. They have a mild mustard-like flavor when young, and plants with serrated leaves which have a stronger flavor. When buying plants or seeds, look for these garland chrysanthemum varieties: small leaf, round leaf, tiger ear, broad leaf, komi shungiku salada and oasis.

Chrysanthemum leaves taste best when harvested before flowering.
Chrysanthemum leaves taste best when harvested before flowering. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Cultivation

Chrysanthemums are relatively easy to grow as an annual. They require full sun and well -drained soil. A gardener can start small plants from seed or from cuttings indoors in early spring and transplant them to the garden after the last spring frost. For best results, water whenever the soil gets dry below the surface and fertilize weekly with a chrysanthemum fertilizer until flower buds develop. Pinch back young shoots regularly to encourage branching growth rather than tall growth. Chrysanthemums need uninterrupted darkness at night to promote flowering, so do not expose them to artificial light.

Chrysanthemums grow well in containers near a sunny window or outside.
Chrysanthemums grow well in containers near a sunny window or outside. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Food Preparation

For the best flavor, harvest the leaves of Chrysanthemum coronarium when the plant is young. Use them raw in salads, as a garnish or to top sandwiches. To use them as a cooked vegetable, lightly steam or stir fry as you would prepare spinach, or add them to hot soup just before serving. Many traditional Chinese, Japanese and Eastern European dishes include chrysanthemum greens. Japanese recipes may refer to chrysanthemum greens as shingiku, Chinese recipes, as choy suey green and Cretan recipes as mantilida. Chrysanthemum flower petals make a colorful addition to salad greens.

Japanese tempura recipes sometimes call for chrysanthemum greens.
Japanese tempura recipes sometimes call for chrysanthemum greens. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Health and Nutrition

Historically, people in China consumed chrysanthemums to treat headaches and used them daily with meals to promote long life. The nutritional analysis of garland chrysanthemum suggests that they may indeed help promote long life because they contain antioxidants, potassium, protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin A and vitamin C.

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