chinese wool flower
Photo: Chinese Wool Flower - Credit: YouTube RareSeedsBC

The Chinese wool flower is an all but forgotten edible ornamental that is one of the most delicious flowering vegetables for the garden.

Brilliant blooms look like colorful tufts of yarn, setting landscapes and floral arrangements ablaze. The fluffy and colorful heads of this amaranth family member are wildly colorful and make a bold everlasting flower for fresh or dried arrangements. What sets the plant apart as a truly remarkable edible ornamental is the delicate and gourmet flavor. The young leaves are a perfect spinach substitute. At the Baker Creek trial kitchen, it has been tried tempura style, stir fried, added to soups, lasagna and pizza. The greens are also incredibly nutritious. One study showed that a 100 gram serving provides all of the daily recommended vitamin A and about 25 percent of the daily recommended calcium. Baker Creek founder, Jere Gettle was intrigued when he saw advertisements for the Chinese wool flower in seed catalogs dating back to 1915. He had never seen the plants in real life, and upon researching, he realized they were no longer available anywhere in the U.S. He took the search abroad and finally tracked down a single seed packet in Japan.

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