EDIBLE FLOWERS FOR PARROTS

SAFETY FIRST!

As much as parrots enjoy the variety and the visual stimulation of flowers in their diet, it is as essential that we learn the difference between toxic and non-toxic varieties, as it is to use only untreated flowers. Do not use flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. Unless otherwise stated, these flowers have almost certainly been treated with pesticides which were not intended for food crops. Flowers picked from the side of the road never should be eaten by human or parrot. Highly poisonous herbicides are used to eliminate weeds and plants bordering roadways so roadside flowers can be deadly fare.

MOST POPULAR EDIBLE FLOWERS

(These are the most commonly consumed flowers of the eighty edible varieties.)

  • Borage blossoms (Borago officinalis) - Tiny blue flowers have slight cucumber flavor.
  • Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) - Also known as "pot marigolds", multi-colored blooms with a peppery taste. Sometimes called "poor man's saffron"
  • Carnation flowers (Dianthus caryophyllus) - Red, pink, and white blossoms with clove taste.
  • Chamomile flowers (Chamaemilum nobile) - Daisy-like flowers with a slight hint of apple flavor. Especially good for parrots when calming influence is needed.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) - the lavander-pink pom pom flower is actually composed of many small florets. Flowers have a mild onion flavor.
  • Daisies (Bellis perennis) - Yellow and white flowers with light mint or clover flavor. [Flowers]
  • Dandelion flowers - pictured (Taraxacum officinale) - Small yellow blossoms have honey flavor when picked young. Older flowers are bitter but my Eclectus parrots do not seem to notice. Also offer the dandelion leaves which are an excellent source of nutrition.
  • Day lilies (Hemerocallis) - Many colored blossoms with sweet taste and crunchy lettuce texture. Flower buds and blossoms can be consumed at all stages of growth. Note: Many lilies (Lillium species) contain alkaloids and are NOT safe for parrots or people.
  • Elderberry flowers (Sambucus canadensis) - Sweet tasting flowers. For colds and chills, Gypsies mix elderberry flowers, yarrow and peppermint and steep in boiling water for 13 minutes, and drink tea frequently.
  • Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) - Flowers of many colors grow on a spike with flowers above each other, all usually facing the same way. Has lettuce texture and flavor.
  • Hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) - Tropical blossoms in a variety of colors have slightly acidic taste. One of the favorite flowers of most parrot species.
  • Honeysuckle flowers (Japanese Lonicera japonica) - Small white to yellow trumpet-shaped blossoms are sweet and delicious. Parrots relish these flowers and the Loridae family of birds especially loves the honeysuckle nectar. Only the Japanese honeysuckle is edible and only the blooms should be used as the berries are extremely poisonous. Offer only the flowers so that no berries on the vines will accidentally be eaten.
  • Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) - Multi-color small blooms with mild taste.
  • Johnny-Jump-Up flowers (Viola tricolor) - Yellow, violet, and lavender flowers with wintergreen flavor. Leaves are also edible and contain vitamin C.
  • Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) - Lavender blossoms have heavy floral fragrance and lemon flavor.
  • Marigolds flowers (Tagetes signata pumila) - Bright yellow and orange flowers with citrus flavor.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) - Purple flowers are edible as well as leaves and seeds which are known for benefits to liver.
  • Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) - Red, yellow, and orange flowers have a tangy, peppery flavor and are the most popular of all edible flowers. Leaves can be eaten too.
  • Pansies (Viola X Wittrockiana) - Purple, white, yellow bi-color blooms have a sweet, tart flavor. [Flowers]
  • Passionflowers - pictured (Passifloraceae - passion flower family)--Passiflora caerulea and Passiflora edulis are two of the hundreds of varieties. Some vines produce large greenish white and purple blossoms and then orange or purple edible fruit, depending upon the variety of the plant. *See website below with information and photos of 200 Passionflower varieties.
  • Peonies
  • Roses (Rosa spp) - Some of the tastiest rose varieties are Rosa xdamascena, Rosa gallica, and Rosa rugosa, Flower carpet rose, Double Delight, Mirandy, and Tiffany variety. Roses have a slight fruity flavor.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) - Lavender-blue flower spikes grow only on the culinary variety. The variegated species of sage do not flower. Flowers have distinctive sage flavor.
  • Other herb flowers-The tiny flowering blooms of the following spices are edible: anise, basil, bee balm, chives, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus)--Many varieties but most have yellow leaves around a "black eye" center. Mature flowers contain the seed that all parrots find so irresistible!
  • Tree flowers-Parrots can be offered the flowering blooms of the following trees: Apple, bottlebrush, citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat), eucalyptus, melaleuca, and plum.
  • Tulips (Tulipa spp.)-Multi-color flowers with crisp, cucumber taste.
  • Vegetable flowers-Butterblossom squash flowers have slight squash taste. Zucchini flowers, podded pea flowers (ornamental peas are poisonous), okra, pumpkin, and runner bean flowers are edible.
  • Violets (Viola odorata)-Deep violet and white color with sweet wintergreen taste.

POISONOUS POSIES

There are many more flowers that are poisonous than are edible.The use of botanical names is important due to the fact that common names vary in different regions of the country. Two plants may be known by the same common name while one is toxic and the other is edible. The following is only a partial list of the most common toxic flowers and their botanical names:
  • Anemone or windflower (Anemone spp.)
  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum spp.)
  • Azalea and rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
  • Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.)
  • Clematis (Clematis spp.)
  • Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)
  • Delphinium or Larkspur (Delphinium spp.)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
  • Iris (Iris spp.)
  • Lantana (Lantana camara)
  • Lobelia or Cardinal flower (Lobelia spp.)
  • Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Morning glory (Ipomoea spp.)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Periwinkle myrtle and vinca (Vinca spp.)
  • Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)

Source:

Swicegood, Carolyn. "Edible Flowers for Parrots" The Kitchen Physician XI

Read the whole article at: The Kitchen Physician XI (Edible Flowers for Parrots) (article reprinted in Birdsnways and The Holististic Bird Newsletter)

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