The Marvellous Magnolia: A Simple Guide to Gathering & 2 Tempting Treats

By Alicia Upton on 29/03/2022

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Spring has arrived in spectacular style, with every highway and hedgerow exploding into bloom. From the explosion of crab apple blossoms lining city streets to the violet flowers hiding under the hedgerows, we’ve been truly spoilt. 

It’s an exciting time for anyone who loves getting outdoors- whether that means pulling on wellies for an adventure or rolling up your trousers to get some sun on your legs. 

One of the most spectacular and unique blooms of spring is the magnolia. It stands in contrast to the delicate, frilly blooms of the cherry and apple, with thick petals and stand-up candleflame buds. Despite this, it is undoubtedly one of the finest flowers in this year's seasonal array. 

These flowers aren’t just beautiful- they’re edible too. So read on to discover how you can make the most of this fantastic flower. 

What do Magnolia Flowers Taste Like? 

Magnolias have a surprisingly gingery flavour, with citrus and cardamom undertones. 

The flavour varies between varieties of magnolia, from delicately spiced to bitter citrus. 

Luckily, there's a way to roughly hedge your bets on what the flavour might be. As a rule of thumb, the lighter flowers have less flavour. In contrast, the darker flowers have a highly intense flavour- sometimes too bitter to be pleasant. 

I’m lucky enough to have a magnolia in my garden- white petals with bleeding pink cores. The flavour is simply divine, ginger, with a hint of cardamom. 

Where Can I Find Them? 

Magnolias are primarily used as ornamental plants in gardens and parks. You’re unlikely to find one on a wander in the woods. 

Keep an eye out as you go about your day-to-day and you’re sure to spot at least one. On someone's property? Why not ask if you can pick a couple of blooms in exchange for a share of the spoils. It’s a great way to build community and share knowledge.

How Many Should I Pick?

Magnolias are one of the finest blooms of spring. They almost seem too pretty to pick! 

However, in preserving them, you get to enjoy their beauty all year round. And the flavour is too delicious to be missed! 

Our Simple Magnolia Syrup recipe requires just two large blooms to make a small jar of syrup.

When foraging, always remember to pick only what you need, leaving plenty for the birds and the bees. These blooms are an essential pollen source for many pollinators! 

Are All Magnolia Flowers Edible?

The magnolia family is large- made up of roughly 200 species. 

In the UK, you’ll most likely find varieties of Chinese Magnolia and their slightly darker relative Magnolia Liliflora. These are both edible and delicious!

Magnolia soulangeana or Chinese Magnolia
Chinese Magnolia, or Magnolia Soulangeana. Thick white-to-pink petals and upright flowers.
Magnolia Liliflora
Magnolia Liliflora. Each petal has a deep pinky-purple exterior and a lighter white to pink inside.

There is no known toxicity to any member of the magnolia family, however, not all of these plants are known to be edible or are commonly used so we recommend sticking to the ones listed, or researching a little more if you’d like to branch out. 

For a more extensive list, take a look at this blog by Handmade Apothecary. 

Want to Learn More About The Joys of Foraging?

Our membership group, The Kitchen Table Revolution, is the perfect place to begin your family's wild food journey. 

Together, we preserve one foraged or seasonal ingredient per week, helping you to revolutionise your Kitchen Table with the magic of wild food. 

By focusing on one thing per week, we build our larders and expand our knowledge at a pace that fits in with the whirlwind of family life. 

Carve out quality time away from the lure of screens and make time to teach your children essential skills that will last a lifetime. Experience outdoor adventures the whole family will treasure and fill your meals with memories. 

Click here to explore our membership options today. 

Simple Magnolia Syprup

This simple syrup captures the fiery flavour of magnolia perfectly! Use it to add a ginger-like spice to cocktails and cakes.
5 from 1 vote
Servings 1 Small Jar


  • 2 Large Magnolia Flowers
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water


  • Remove the petals from the central pineapple-like ovary and set them aside.
  • Pop your water and sugar into a pan over a low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add your magnolia petals and stir to submerge. Bring to a low simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour into a sterilized jar or bottle and seal. Store in the fridge.

Marvellous Magnolia Manhattan

A simple Magnolia syrup gives this classic cocktail a unique twist.
5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks


  • 50 ml Whisky (Bourbon or Rye)
  • 25 ml Red Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 25 ml Magnolia Syrup Adjust to taste


  • Pour all ingredients into your glass, over ice.
  • Stir well and enjoy!
Article written by Alicia Upton

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