Is ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ an edible honeysuckle?

(Question)

I am very curious about edible flowers and have Dropmore Scarlet in my garden. Recommended online and hardcopy resources are welcome.

(Answer)

Dear gardener,

I think it is wonderful that you are experimenting with flowers as many could be use in the culinary art; however, please exercise caution as many flowers and other parts of plants can be poisonous. A good reference book and certainty of the plant you are dealing with, it is crucial.

In terms of Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp), you need to understand the species and variety you have in order to know whether you can eat its nectar (some leaves and berries are poisonous). Honeysuckles can be divided in few types: Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle, Shrub Honeysuckles, French Honeysuckle vines and Vine honeysuckles. Within each, some are native and some are not; some are species and other are hybridized; there are over 100 of them! Hence it is difficult to give you an answer with certainty. Dropmore Scarlet (Lonicera x brownie) is a hybrid, and I could not find its particular specie in any of my edible reference books.

I would suggest you start with the most common edible flowers and as you mentioned, with a good reference guide online or hardcopy:

From the University of North Carolina State:  https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-8513.html . Please note that they have further hardcopy reference at the bottom of the document.

From Colorado State University:  https://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07237.html (November 2009)

Few common flowers from Iowa State University: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/rg302.pdf (Updated March 2013)

Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada. Lone Pine Publishing. This book is a good guide for Canadian native plants.

McVicar, Jekka. Jekka’s Complete Herb Book. Kyle Books. 2005

The Toronto Botanical Garden also has a wonderful Library where members can borrow horticulture books and reference guides.

Good luck with your new discovery. Enjoy adding flowers to your meals but please always exercise safety:

  • Consume flowers you have grown yourself as you know they will not be treated (do not eat flowers from a florist shop or flowers you find on the road side)
  • Eat flowers you are certain to know to be consumable
  • Do not overdo it at first. Introduce flowers gradually to ensure there are not allergic reactions