By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
You may have a curious toddler or a mouthy pooch who finds grazing in the garden a delight. However, consider that many of the plants we have in our landscapes are not edible and may, in fact, be poisonous. Just because a fuchsia produces berry-like fruits, for instance, may not mean they can be eaten. Are fuchsias edible? We’ll go into that and a bunch of other fun facts about the fuchsia plant in this article.
Can You Eat Fuchsia?
The French monk and botanist Charles Plumier discovered fuchsia on the island of Hispaniola in the late 1600s. It was apparent to the natives at the time that there was no fuchsia plant toxicity, and Plumier wrote a great deal on the flavor and medicinal uses of the plant. There are now over 100 species of this versatile flowering plant, which are spread in the warmer Americas and into New Zealand.
There are countless varieties of fruits, both wild and cultivated. Many of these are edible and actually delicious while others are not tasty but effective medicine or high in nutrients. Ominously still, others are actually toxic or poisonous and serious illness or death can result after ingestion. Are fuchsias edible? This is a valid question, as the deeply purple berries appear to be some sort of juicy, tangy sweet delicacy.
In fact, all fuchsia fruit are edible and you can eat the flowers too. By all accounts, the berries are lightly tart with lemony freshness. Some foodies compare them to stoneless cherries. Either way, they are not toxic and can be eaten in a variety of ways.
Harvesting Berries and Flowers
Since we have established there is no fuchsia plant toxicity, it is safe to gather some berries and/or flowers and try them out. Berries often arrive towards the end of the summer, usually as the plant is still flowering. The effect is decorative and unique. Because plants keep flowering during fruiting, you can harvest berries at any time.
Berries should be plump, smooth and fairly easy to twist off the stem. Alternatively, you can use scissors to snip them off. Wash the fruit and prepare it as you would like. The flowers are also edible. Harvest when fully open. Use the petals as a salad, garnish or frozen inside ice cubes for a pretty party drink.
Eating fuchsia berries and flowers adds Vitamin C and many other nutrients to the table while brightening up all your dishes.
One of the more popular things to do with the berries is to make it into a spreadable jam. The method is the same as most other berry jams. You can also bake them into scones, muffins, cakes and more. Top them over pancakes or ice cream or add them to a fruit salad. Their mildly tart-sweet flavor brightens up meat dishes as a chutney. They also are great for just eating out of hand as a gardener’s handy snack.
Take care of your plants and they will take care of you. Make sure your fuchsia plant is in part sun where the roots can stay cool. Feed with a high potash fertilizer in spring to increase flowers and, of course, fruits.
If your plant is hardy, prune it lightly in late winter. If you have the tender variety, try bringing it indoors to overwinter. With a little effort, many of the varieties of fuchsia can produce fruit for your home for years.
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Plants That Rabbits Find Delicious
In difficult conditions, rabbits will eat almost any plants, but in normal circumstances, there are some plants that rabbits find so tasty that they are drawn to landscapes containing them.
Many annual bedding plants are favored by rabbits, including:
- Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)
- Cockscomb (Celosia argenta cristata)
- Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
- Gazania (Gazania rigens)
- Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)
- Morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)
- Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
- Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)
- Rose moss (Portulaca grandiflora)
- Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
- Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
- Sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius)
- Verbena (Verbena x hybrida)
- Wishbone flower (Torenia)
- Zinnas (Zinnia elegans)
Perennial Bulbs and Flowers
These perennial plants, in particular, are attractive to rabbits:
- Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
- Baby's breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
- Balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)
- Bellflower (Campanula spp.)
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta & Goldsturm)
- Clematis (Clematis spp.)
- Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Coral bells-flowers only (Heuchera sanguinea)
- Crocus (Crocus hybrids)
- Daylillies (Hemerocallis spp.)
- Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
- Great masterwort (Astrantia major)
- Hosta, Plantain lily (Hosta species)
- Iris (Iris hybrids)
- Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule)
- Japanese anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
- Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola tricolor)
- Lilies, oriental and asiatic (Lilium spp.)
- Lupine (Lupinus & Russell Hybrid)
- Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Marguerite daisy (Felicia amelloides)
- Marsh blue violet (Viola cucullata)
- Daisy (Aster novi belgii)
- Mountain blue (Centaurea montana)
- Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale)
- Phlox, tall (Phlox paniculata)
- Phlox, creeping (Phlox subulata)
- Pincushion flower (Scabiosa caucasica)
- Pink coreopsism (Coreopsis rosea)
- Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)
- Threadleaf coreopsis(Coreopsis verticillata)
- Tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)
- Tulip (Tulipa hybrids)
- Vervain (Verbena rigida)
A great many shrubs are at great danger from rabbits eating the tender spring shoots. Severe feeding may even kill the plants. Some shrubs to avoid if rabbits are a problem include:
- Barberry (Berberis & Crimson Pygmie)
- Common flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
- Deutzia (Deutzia spp.)
- Doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum)
- Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
- Flowering crabapple (Malus spp.)
- Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
- Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.)
- Hawthorn (Crataegus spp)
- Japanese flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica)
- Judd viburnum (Viburnum x juddii)
- Juneberry (Amelanchier)
- Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii)
- Lilac (Syringa patula & Miss Kim)
- Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
- Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
- Purpleleaf sand cherry (Prunus x cistena)
- Rose (Rosa spp.)
- Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
- Sand cherry (Prunus bessyi)
- Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
- Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)
- Winged Euonymus (Euonymus alata)
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Vegetables and Fruits
Predictably, rabbits are drawn to many of the same foods that appeal to humans. But despite popular depiction in animated cartoons, carrots are not a principal food for rabbits.
- Apples (Malus pumila)
- Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
- Beets (Beta vulgaris)
- Blackberry and raspberry (Rubus spp.)
- Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
- Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica)
- Currant and gooseberry (Ribes spp.)
- Grape (Vitis spp.)
- Kiwi (Actinidea arguta)
- Pear (Pyrus species)
- Peppers (Capsicum frutescens)
- Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
- Peas (Pisum sativum)
- Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
- Strawberry (Fragaria ananassa)
- Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris cicla)
What flowers to avoid
|Some flowers shouldn't be eaten. |
If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not a flower is edible – don’t eat it. It’s a simple rule of thumb, but effective. Also, if you have pollen allergies, you might want to avoid eating edible flowers altogether.
Here are a few other important tips:
- • Don't pick faded, dusty, old or discoloured flowers in your garden (or when foraging) that are near a road or an area that animals use.
- • Don't treat your edible flowers with pesticides. Instead, if you have problems with pests, cut the flower back and encourage regrowth instead.
So, with that in mind, here are a few edible flowers you might already grow or choose to plant in your own backyard, plus a few to be sure to avoid!