With their beautiful, exotic flowers that come in a rainbow of colors, orchids are among the most popular houseplants and landscaping plants. The purple orchid is one variety that stands out with its rich, regal blooms. But can you actually eat purple orchids? Let’s take a look at whether it’s safe to eat these eye-catching flowers.
The Versatility of Orchids
Orchids, a diverse family of flowering plants, boast an impressive range of species, each with its unique characteristics and attributes. They are highly coveted for their ornamental value and are often used in floral arrangements, decorative displays, and even fragrances.
Are Orchids Toxic?
Many houseplants are toxic to humans when ingested. Thankfully, most orchid species are entirely non-toxic and safe to eat. There are only a couple exceptions. The Oncidium or “dancing lady” orchids contain mild toxins and allergens. And the Disa uniflora, a South African terrestrial orchid, can induce nausea if eaten.
But overall, some common orchids have no poisonous compounds and can be consumed safely. Dendrobium orchids are one of the most commonly consumed orchid varieties. Cymbidium orchids are another edible variety that can be enjoyed in culinary preparations. Vanilla orchids are the most well-known and widely used edible orchids.
It is essential to exercise caution and ensure that you are consuming the correct species, as some orchids can be toxic or harmful to humans.
Benefits of Eating Orchids
While orchids provide minimal nutritional or caloric value, they do offer some benefits when eaten:
Antioxidants – Orchids contain plant compounds like anthocyanins that act as antioxidants in the body. These can combat cell damage by neutralizing free radicals.
Anti-inflammatory effects – Compounds in orchids have demonstrated anti-inflammatory actions in cell studies. This may help reduce swelling or irritation.
Natural food coloring – Edible orchid flowers impart vivid colors like purple as natural, plant-based food dyes.
Flavor – Orchids have a mild, pleasant taste. Some compare it to cucumber or lettuce.
Tips for Eating Purple Orchids
If you’d like to sample purple orchid flowers, here are some tips:
- Use pesticide-free flowers – Only eat orchids you’ve grown yourself or that were grown organically without pesticide use.
- Remove pollen sacs – Detach and discard the pollen sacs inside each flower, which can cause allergies.
- Use sparingly – Orchids have very little substance, so eat small quantities as edible garnishes, not large portions.
- Try extracting color – To use as natural purple food dye without eating the actual plant, steep flowers in water to extract the purple pigment.
How to Cook with Purple Orchids ?
Some creative ways to eat purple orchids or use their color include:
- Decorative Garnish
- Float whole flowers in drinks
- Scatter atop desserts like cakes, fruit salads and panna cotta
- Use as edible cake decorations
- Steep in hot water for purple orchid tea
- Infuse in spirits like vodka or gin for colorful cocktails
- Swirl into salad dressings
- Natural Food Coloring
- Dye baked goods like cakes, cookies and doughnuts
Choosing the Best Safe Orchids for Eating
If you want to eat orchids, look for these safe, non-toxic varieties:
Phalaenopsis – The popular “moth orchid” comes in purple and other colors.
Dendrobium – Species like Dendrobium cucumerinum have edible stems and flowers.
Cattleya – This common houseplant has showy, non-toxic blooms.
Vanda – Vanda orchids produce large, vividly colored flower sprays.
While the allure of purple orchids may be tempting, it is essential to exercise caution and ensure that you are consuming safe-to-eat varieties. In small quantities, vivid purple and other orchid blooms can provide temporary beauty as a garnish or natural coloring. Just be sure to remove pollen sacs and only eat pesticide-free varieties known to be non-toxic. And always prioritize safety and enjoy these floral delicacies in moderation.