Many of the medieval flowers common to 12th century England are still grown in gardens today. Flowers were deemed particularly important in medieval times and used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
Many medieval flowers actually found their way onto the dining table at medieval banquets. These probably included the cowslip, daisy, foxglove, iris, Lady’s Mantle, lily, marigold and nasturtium. Some flowers were included as ingredients in spectacular dishes to add both flavour and colour whilst others were used as part of the table decorations. Overall, flowers were probably used to a greater extent as part of everyday medieval life than they are today.
In terms of medieval cookery, flowers were especially in salads. Violets, borage and primroses (right) were often added to salads to give extra flavour, colour and texture.
Medieval Flowers List
Here are some of the flowers grown in medieval times, though not all of them were used in cooking!
Daisy – seen in many medieval paintings where meadows were portrayed
Lily – a flower seen in many medieval paintings, especially ones with a religious theme
Marigold – used in dying wool to give a golden colour
Nasturtium – popular flower in medieval salads
Peony – featured in medieval tapestries and paintings
Primrose – used in medieval salads but also for church decoration, especially in the month of May each year
Violet – popular in salads, like the primrose
Wild Strawberry – a great addition to salads but it was also eaten in its own right, sometimes with a thick rich cream. The modern day tradition of English strawberries and cream could well have its roots further back than most people think!