Decorative flowers have taken off in the last few years, but a TV botanist in the UK has a warning for any would-be food florists – make sure the flowers won’t kill you.
James Wong, a popular ethnobotanist who has appeared in TV shows such as Grow Your Own Drugs and Countryfile, used Twitter to call out a vegan food blogger for decorating her chia seed pudding with the toxic flowers of the Paperwhite Narcissus plant, a member of the daffodil family.
“Another day, another ‘clean eating’ Instagramer posting images of toxic flowers on food,” he wrote. “It may not contain dairy or gluten *gasp* but it does contain the toxic plant alkaloid, lycorine. Symptoms: Itching, swelling, (and in quantity) nausea, vomiting & convulsions.”
While Wong didn’t name the food blogger in his post, online sleuths have determined that it is San Francisco cookbook author Marie Reginato. “Home cooked breakfast making me swoon this morning,” Reginato wrote on one post. While a number of commenters have called her out, she is yet to publicly comment. It is not clear in the posts whether or not Reginato intended to eat the flowers as part of the meal, of if they were to be removed before consumption.
Wong followed his comments up with advice. “If you are not 100 per cent sure something is edible, just don’t eat it. If it’s a staple eaten for centuries which you don’t have a diagnosed medical intolerance or allergy to, it’s probably safe”.