"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Eat my dahlias?" she yelled...

"Eat my dahlias?" she yelled, her face contorted with a look of horror as I innocently walked through the door proudly displaying a bowl of the tubers. "Well yeah hon, I read about it in Mother Earth a while back, remember? I told you all about it" I said with a sly grin. My wife, looking at me in utter disbelief, questioned my sanity and reminded me that we had enough roots and tubers scattered about and that perhaps I should focus my attention on them and leave the poor flower bulbs alone.

"And just how do you plan on eating them?" she demanded, shaking her head in obvious dissatisfaction. "Well dear, if you remember correctly, it was I that convinced you to plant them in the first place, that said, we will grate them raw into our salad tonight" I proclaimed with smug disregard for her flowery sensitivities. "No problem Mike, you go right ahead and try them just don't expect me to get sick along with you" she responded walking out of the kitchen. "Foolish man wants to eat flower bulbs does he, well go right ahead" I heard her mumble under her breath from the other room. Pushing my luck, I couldn't help but call out a gentle reminder "they are not bulbs sweetie, they're tubers."

Anyway, it went something like that. Well, perhaps that is "quite" a bit of an exaggeration and perhaps I am a bit foolish, but in the end we both tried and enjoyed the new found spicy but subtle flavor of grated dahlia that adorned our salads. Enjoyed might also be a bit of a stretch, let's just say we reveled in the fact that they were indeed edible. All dahlia tubers are edible and so are their flower petals, I did refrain from dining on the flowers being content to simply gaze upon their beauty. No doubt eating the flowers would have seen me booted out the door with suitcase in hand. You can only push a flower gardener so far before she snaps.

Now while I am certainly not going to make a habit out of eating dahlia tubers I suppose it is good to know that if times were tough a person can have their blooms and eat them too. Dahlias like sunchokes, scorzonera, salsify and endive roots contain high levels of inulin, a healthful dietary fiber. It takes a body some time to adapt to this as inulin does not readily break down in the stomach.

The inulin in these foods has it's benefits. It can help increase the absorption of calcium and is also considered a prebiotic, helping to stimulate the growth of bacteria in the digestive system. Which, while a good thing, can cause a bit of stomach discomfort to those who have not adequately adapted to inulin rich foods. So starting out with the consumption of a small portion of these foods might be a wise choice. Don't worry, you will know if you ate too many.:)

Here is a link to the article on edible dahlias in "Mother Earth News" -



Heiko said...

I once read that the roots of the tall herb angelica can be eaten like turnips or parsnips. So out I went, spade in hand, to dig out some angelica root. It tasted of soap. So not recommended unless you have a fetish for drinking your bath water...

Daliah roots... sorry tubers? I'd have to pinch them from a flower gardening neighbour!

Stefaneener said...

I can sort of understand her horror. It seems that every tuber eaten means fewer flowers to enjoy. The petals in a salad, though. . . that makes complete sense.

Anonymous said...

I love it! I read about this in Mother Earth News also. Isn't it neat to try new things.
I think I would be like your wife though don't eat my dahlias! I'm glad you left her blooms behind. We are really are just now eating pumpkins though and I'm thinking we might get to the purple vegetables like you suggested in a few years- so it might be awhile before we try this.

Mr. H. said...


You should have stopped by for a taste.:) Thanks for the heads up on angelica...I'll pass on that one.

Mr. H. said...


Yes, it would not be wise of me to make a habit out of dahlia eating. The petals...shh..let's keep that thought on the down low, I could get into really big trouble for petal pinching.

Mr. H. said...


We do this a lot, trying new things just so we "know." It's really quite fun and gives us a good handle on alternative food sources should the need ever arise.

"Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it." - Ella Williams

Silke said...

Well, I learned something new today. I was sure Daniel would have known (he knows a lot of such things), but he didn't either! We have never grown dahlias, so I guess no tubers for us... I love how you two are such adventurers in the garden and the kitchen!! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...


We have to entertain ourselves somehow...right? After all, we are stuck up here in the panhandle of Idaho and there are not a whole lot of other things going on this time of year. So we cook...and eat...really weird things. Tonight we are having tomato pie for dinner. New to us, but a lot Less frightening than dahlia roots.:)

granny said...

Ok,Im with your wife on this one!!! No way would I let you eat my Dahlias!!
Nup, no, never! I LOVE my Dahlias! and besides...I think you have enough food stored there,no need to eat the pretty flowers,surely.

Mr. H. said...


Not even one little nibble...just to see how it tasted, a bite to remedy my curiosity. Perhaps your right. One petal pinched leads to another and before you know it I might develop an insatiable hunger for them causing me to root up and sup on an entire bed of dahlias.:)

Good news though, all the bulbs are tucked safely away in our basement and my curiosity has been cured. We have to overwinter ours that way so that the bulbs do not freeze or rot.

Out Back said...

Hello there, I just found your blog. Thank you for a very informative resource, I will be back to finish reading soon.

Mr. H. said...

Out Back,

Excellent! Thanks for stopping by.


Heiko said...

Mike, I had recently received an awards, I felt I should pass on to you. You deserve it. Come and collect it on my blog. Oh and another word of advice: You say you need something to amuse yourself out there in the sticks, have you thought of having more kids?

Mr. H. said...


No kids but we might get a dog any day now (my wifes project). Being stuck in the house this winter with a new dog and 3 dog hating cats should keep us more than amused.:)

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, it is the inulin that has a beneficial effect for diabetes sufferers. I know that people are talking about the benefits of the Jerusalem artichoke in these terms.

Personally, I think the lively petals would look gorgeous amongst the salad greens... good luck with that next summer!



Mr. H. said...


Ha! A fellow petal pincher.:)

Yes the inulin in these foods is supposed to be very beneficial to diabetics as it possibly helps to lower blood sugar levels.

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