Food and Nutrition

Articles relating to food and nutritional needs for hermit crabs.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam by Amber M.

Grand Slam by Amber M.

Ingredients

1 Cup+ dried meal worms
1/3 Cup dried beef or chicken (break into small pieces first)
1/2 Cup polenta or cornmeal (it’s the same thing)
Several clean dry egg shells
1/3 Cup peanuts
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp pine nuts

Instructions

Blend all ingredients until smooth except nuts. Pulse in nuts last and leave a little chunky.

Nuts eventually go bad. Store in a cool dry place, or put in fridge/freezer for long term storage.
Store in an airtight container. I prefer glass jars.

Does not require refrigeration. Can be frozen.

Submitted by Amber M.

Breakfast Bowl

Breakfast Bowl by Amber M.

Breakfast Bowl by Amber M.

Ingredients

1/3 Cup Plain Oats
1/4 Cup wheat germ
1/4 Cup dried coconut
1/4 Cup dried mixed fruit (chop a bit first)
3 tbsp Chamomile Flowers
2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

Blend all ingredients until desired consistency.

Store in an airtight container. I prefer glass jars.

Optional prep method:
For a wet mix add into the blender last:
Pure virgin cold pressed oil and honey or maple
Add enough until it just mixes together to form a crumbly paste. Keep wet version refrigerated.
Both can be served “as is” or mix in a little warm water right before serving.

Dry version does not require refrigeration. Can be frozen.

Submitted by Amber M.

Sushi

Sushi by Amber M.

Sushi by Amber M.

Ingredients

Dried green or red algae 3 sheets
Kombu (break into pieces or use scissors to chop) 3 medium pieces
Nori 3 sheets
Red cargo rice, or your favorite nutritionally dense organic rice or grain. 1/4 or 1/3 cup.
Freeze dried shrimp 2-3 tbsp
Dried salmon skin 3+ tbsp (do not sub, healthy fat is important!)
Dried salmon 2+ tbsp

Instructions

Blend everything until desired constancy. I don’t like it totally powdered, it should still have a little texture so the crabs can get what they want, or eat the powdery bits. Their choice 🙂
Store in an airtight container, I prefer glass jars.

Does not require refrigeration. Can be frozen.

For an authentic meal, offer fresh cucumber, edamame, avocado and mango in the fresh food dish.

Submitted by Amber M.

Suet for hermit crabs

Suet for hermit crabs

Suet for hermit crabs

Ingredients:
Flax Seed
Chia Seed
Amaranth
Wheat
Sesame Seeds
Quinoa (Red and White)
Kelp Powder
Mixed seed bird seed with dried fruit
Organic Coconut oil


Quantities needed depend on how many hermit crabs you have. I used a pinch of each of the items listed. You can use any combination of dry items. You could also substitute organic peanut butter for the Coconut Oil.

In a small bowl with a lid add all of your dry ingredients. Add a small amount of Coconut Oil (room temp is ideal). Use a spoon to smear the oil around so it begins to pickup the dry ingredients. Mix as well as you can using the spoon then place the lid on the bowl and shake it. You may need to add more oil. If so just add a bit and shake again. You want the seed to be just coated enough to stick together. I used a shallow terra cotta tray as my dish. I transferred the suet into the tray and used a spoon to press it flat. The terra cotta should also help absorb any excess oil as it warms up in the tank.

submitted by Stacy G.

2016-07-21 20.22.13

Suet for hermit crabs

Hermit Crab Food Foraging List

For the outdoorsy hermit crab enthusiast we have compiled a list of foods that can be collected or harvested. It’s perfect to tuck into your backpack for easy reference.

 

*Due to size and space limitations this is not an exhaustive list and should be cross referenced with our good/bad lists.

FAQ What foods are good and bad for hermit crabs?

 

 

What’s for dinner? A hermit crab food guide!

Hermit Crab Feeding Guide - Printables

Hermit Crab Feeding Guide – Printables from CrabStreetJournal.org

In an effort to simplify feeding for hermit crab owners we have put together a few printable hermit crab food guides.  These should be used in conjunction with our safe and unsafe lists.

*Foraging Guide

*Where to Buy Guide

*What to Feed and Why Guide

The files can be downloaded at the bottom of the article.

If you have additions or corrections for any of these guides or other food lists please send them to crabstreetjournal@gmail.com As we don’t allow commenting due to spammers.


Additional food related articles:

Safe and Unsafe Wood
Edible Flowers
What Foods are Good and Bad?
Beneficial Foods Containing Zeaxanthin
Learning to prepare food for your hermit crabs
Foods Containing Carotenids
Color Enhancing Foods
Adulterants & Additives in Hermit Crab Food
Atypical Things Hermit Crabs Can Eat
Going Natural Beginner’s List
People Food for Hermit Crabs
Growing Your Own Hermit Crab Food
Hermit Crab Food Recipes
Should I Feed My Hermit Crab Meat
The Power of Protein

Beneficial Foods Containing Zeaxanthin

Foods containing for hermit crabs

Foods containing Zeaxanthin for hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab Saturday, 19 November 2005

Zeaxanthin is an important precursor to astaxanthin, the carotenoid crustaceans need most to regulate their body systems. If astaxanthin is hard to come by, then zeaxanthin is the substance that coenobita need most. Beta carotene, while a valuable carotenoid, is not used as efficiently by crabs and is not of as much dietary use as zeaxanthin is.

The following lists are of zeaxanthin-containing foods. There are three lists, one each for foods containing high, moderate, and low or trace amounts of this important substance. They are partial and will be updated as new information comes in. Feed from these lists several times a week — daily access to zeaxanthin is recommended.


High Levels
Bell pepper, orange
Broccoli
Cilantro
Collards
Corn, yellow
Corn meal
Dandelion greens
Egg yolk
grape leaves
Lettuce, cos or romaine
Parsley (raw)
Peas
Spirulina

Moderate Levels
Avocado
Beans, snap
Bell pepper, green or red
Blackberries
Brussels sprouts
Carrots
Chard, Swiss
Flax seed
Green leaf lettuce
Kale
Mandarin
Orange
Papaya
Persimmon, Japanese (raw)
Raspberry
Tangerine
Zucchini

Low or Trace Levels
Almonds
Apples
Barley
Cantaloupe
Cauliflower
Cherries
Cucumber
Star fruit (carambola)

Learning to prepare food for your hermit crabs

Learning to prepare foods for your hermit crabs

Learning to prepare foods for your hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab 2005
Coconuts: A Really Tough Nut to Crack

Yeah, these guys are tricky to open. But the fresh meat and milk inside are crab ambrosia. The best method for opening them is to employ an adult human male.

Barring access to one of those, note the three depressions at one end of the coconut. These are the coconut’s eyes. An icepick, a chisel, or a strong slot head screwdriver placed firmly in the center of one of the eyes, and bashed firmly and repeatedly by a hammer will eventually reward those with perseverance. A drill or jigsaw can also be employed by those who prefer not to soil their hands or break a nail with manual labor.

Once the eye is breached, pour out the milk, unless you enjoy cleaning up spills on the surrounding counter, floor and walls. You can put this in a small dish for the crabs to drink, or use it in a fruit and flower salad, or to moisten some puffed millet or crispbread. Believe it or not, you can even drink it yourself, in place of pina colada mix. Continue bashing, and wiggling the sharp tool a bit, and the coconut will split.

From there, it is a simple matter to scoop out the meat (with a butter knife or strong spoon). There will be a skin of brown coconut husk on the back of each piece of meat. Leave it on! This husk is very nutritious for the crabs and will not be immune to the kibbling power of the Ultimate Chopper. Break the coconut meat into chunks approximately 1 inch square, place in a freezer bag and freeze away! You can leave some shreds of meat inside one half of the shell (or whatever fraction you end up with) and put it in the tank for the equivalent of a crab cabaret – food and entertainment all in one package. Remove it within 48 hours, before the meat spoils.

Seaweed: Or, Getting Your Crabs to Eat their Sea Vegetables

It’s true. I did say that seaweed is a staple of coenobita diet. Then why won’t your crabs eat their sea vegetables?

Don’t feel bad. Mine won’t either, not without a lot of culinary sleight-of-hand.

Imagine your diet’s mainstay: meat and potatoes and its evil twin, McDonalds? Curry and rice? Mongolian barbeque? Now imagine what it would taste like if it had been dried out in the sun on a rock until it was hard and fragile, and then dumped in a trough nightly for you to eat. Sounds delicious, no? No.

I believe it is the same with the crabs. The palates of the seaweed we can offer them and the fresh stuff just washed up from offshore must be light years apart. Even the best dried organic seaweed and algae powder is like a freeze-dried C-Ration version of a meal from a four star Parisian restaurant. I have heard a few people say their crabs would eat dry toasted nori, and to be fair, some of that does disappear out of my crabs’ dry food dish on occasion, but there are other ways to persuade your crabs to eat seaweed.

Seaweed is an algae. The various large seaweeds are macroalgaes. Spirulina and blue-green algae are microalgaes. Despite the difference in size and appearance, these are all related plants and are all at the bottom of the food chain, which makes them the healthiest and purest sources of vitamins and minerals any one or creature can eat.

First and foremost: unless you live near a completely private, unpolluted beach, going to the seaside and getting some seaweed for your crabs is not the best idea. There is too much pollution on our recreational beaches these days for it to be a safe place to harvest seaweed.

Health food stores and grocery stores with Asian foods are the best sources for seaweed. A great on-line source is Maine Seaweed Company:

http://www.alcasoft.com/seaweed/

You can get by with just one variety of seaweed, but I feel it is best to have several that you can rotate through your crabs’ diet. The most essential algae of all is spirulina. It is the highest in beta carotene, and is also high in protein. A pound of it should sell for around $20. Many health food stores sell items like this in bulk, so that you can buy as much or as little as you need.

You have your spirulina. And blue-green algae, and kelp powder, and Irish moss powder. You’ve added some dried dulse, nori, bladderwrack and sea palm. Your crabs still sit next to the food dish and eat sand. Now what?

This is where the magic comes in.

Crabs, though cute, aren’t very bright. Like small children just learning to eat solid food, they can easily be fooled into ingesting things that are good for them.

I have four main methods of offering algaes.

1) Dry: Provide some dried, shredded seaweed and/or some of one or more algae powders in the dry food dish at all times. Dried seaweed, both the rubbery and crunchy kinds, chop up easily and willingly with a good knife technique. This is one job the Ultimate Chopper really isn’t good for.

2) Powder: I make a mixture of equal parts spirulina, Klamath blue-green algae, kelp powder and Irish moss powder. I sprinkle this on seafood, mix it in omelettes occasionally, and sometimes dust a honey and fruit dish lightly with it. It is very versatile, and nutrient rich for sick or pre-molting crabs. It is also vital that post-molting crabs have access to something like this, in order to retain or darken coloring. If one’s budget is tight, and only one can be obtained, spirulina is the clear winner. I feel it is the one most important algae in your crab pantry.

Each powder can also be used individually as well, for each has its own “special power,” as it were. In particular, Irish moss reputedly has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, as well as stress relieving qualities. It is an excellent choice to offer crabs suffering from post purchase stress. Mixing Irish moss in honey and feeding on a slice of banana or apple is the best way to get some healing into a scared and damaged rescue crab.

3) Kibble: Include some shredded dry seaweed with a seafood and grain kibble. Rice, tuna, dry red dulse and chanterelle mushroom is a quick example of how to use dry seaweed in a larger dish.

4) Reconstituted: This method is the closest my crabs have come to the real deal, seaweed fresh from the beach.

Heat a little ocean water in the microwave until steaming hot. Drop in dried seaweed, broken into bits that will fit in the water. Allow to soak until soft – this doesn’t take very long, and over-soaking the seaweed in hot water will leach the nutrients, so do it swiftly.

After the seaweed is soft, turn it out onto the cutting board and chop finely. I hold my breath as I can’t stand the smell. It’s become a habit now: chopping seaweed – holding breath. Even when I have a cold and can’t smell anything, I’m still holding my breath from force of habit.

From there, the seaweed can be offered in combination with other foods, as a base for another food, or, sprinkled with a little sea salt and calcium powder, as a dish on its own.

Crabs Need Cholesterol: An Egg a Week

Hermits, like every other creature, require some cholesterol in their diet in order to be healthy. I offer my crabs egg once a week to ten days. The best thing about making egg for crabs is that you actually want to leave bits of shell in the food, so you don’t have to work so hard preparing it.

Factory hen eggs are very bad for your crabs. These chickens are sickly, fed a poor diet, force fed antibiotics and hormones. The eggs from these chickens are inferior and tainted, down to the calcium in the shell itself. Forget the crabs, they’re bad for you! And they don’t really taste nice, once you’ve tried the alternative.

Free range, organic eggs are the best way to go, if you can’t grow your own. They taste better and are better for you and your crabs.

That said, there are several methods of offering eggs to your crabs. In an ideal world, they should be raw. I don’t recommend this. The humid, warm environment of a crabitat is perfect to grow bacteria such as salmonella and e. coli, which do not necessarily require a living host to thrive. Egg and raw meat, while more in keeping with what the crabs would eat in the wild, need to be handled carefully, and cleaned up after promptly.

A good way to simulate raw egg is to soft boil an egg in distilled water. Then crack it open and tear it apart into sections for the crabs in the main tank and any in ISO. Be certain to preserve the yolk, still runny, in the egg sections in the food dish. I often put seaweed salad or something else in the yolk for them to enjoy.

Egg can also be scrambled, with the addition of spirulina powder or other seaweed, seafood, grated vegetable, cod liver or flax oil, grains or seed meals, or other foods. Pulverize some of the egg shell and be sure to include it as well.

Egg can also be hard boiled and offered with a little sea salt, or chopped into some other food.

The Goodness of Grain

Grains are good for crabs as they are high in calcium and other nutrients. Natural, whole grains are preferable to processed refined grains. Brown rice instead of white, for example. Crabs can eat dry grain, but I have found that mine eat better when I have soaked it for a short time in steaming hot salt water, just enough to soften the outer layer of the grain. Putting larger grains through the Ultimate Chopper with other food items afterwards will reduce it in size and make it more attractive to eat.

In the wild, crabs eat a wide variety of grass seeds, or grains. C. compressus is even considered an agricultural pest on rice crops.

Salt: Bring it On

Salt is required by crabs in order to retain proper osmotic levels in their shell water, and to molt successfully. There is absolutely no problem with sprinkling a tiny amount of sea salt on just about anything you want your crabs to eat. The salt will make many foods more attractive to them. Remember that the majority of what they find in the wild has been dead or rotting on the beach and is likely covered with salt.

When purchasing sea salt, like everything, be certain to inspect the label for any hint of an additive or caking agent. It needs to be pure sea salt.

Citrus: The Truth is Sweet
Somehow, somewhere, someone heard that citrus peel contains volatile oils that act as insect repellents and insecticides, added two and two together, and came up with seven; namely, that crabs, being arthropods (and related to insects), cannot tolerate citrus in their diet.

Phooey.

Citrus fruits are tropical and sub-tropical. Coenobita, coincidentally, are tropical and sub-tropical. Hermit crabs are constantly exposed to citrus in their native environment. They can, and will eat citrus fruit.

It is not bad for them. On the contrary, the addition of citrus to your crabs’ diet can be extremely beneficial. The trick is in knowing which kind of citrus, and how to offer it.

Crabs prefer sweet citrus to sour; tangerines over grapefruit. They will pick at the flesh of the fruit, but actually prefer to eat the pulp and membranes between the fruit sections and the fruit and skin. This substance collectively is known as hesperidin, and is full of dozens of phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are compounds, such as beta carotene, that have nutritional value, but it is uncertain how much. They have not had much study. Some are said to be good for arterial disease, others for other things. I am doing research on hesperidin currently. I will be writing an article on its value in the future.

Because of the scavenging nature of crabs, it is entirely possible that these phytonutrients are very important to their health in ways we can’t even imagine. So the addition of citrus fruits to the diet of a crab is to their benefit.

The best method I have found for preparing citrus is as follows:

Put the fruit on the counter and leave it until it starts to wrinkle up a bit, and the skin pulls off the flesh. The limonene and other possibly irritating compounds in the skin will have begun to break down at this point and will no longer be an issue (if, in fact, they ever were). When it is just getting to the point where you wouldn’t eat it yourself, cut off a section, skin and all, and put it in the food dish. Pull up a corner of the fruit so the crabs can get to the pith inside the skin. For good measure, pull out all the fiber from the center section and add it to the dish as well.

I have found that my crabs will eat the hesperidin and pick at the fruit. They ignore the peel completely.

In Conclusion

Once you’ve mastered these basic techniques, you’ll be able to create a varied and extensive menu for your crabs. They may not be able to tell you in so many words, but the increase in molting frequency, and the darkening of their color, will say it all.

Bon appetit!

Tools

Now that you’ve decided to provide your hermits with a gourmet diet, you’ll need to know how to handle various foods to make them attractive to your crabs. In this installment of the Epicurean Hermit, I will address various techniques for preparing gourmet hermit food, and the tools that you might want to add to your kitchen to assist you in preparing them.

The tools I’m going to address here are the ones that I use myself in my own kitchen. These aren’t the only tools that can be used, however. You can make all the crab foods I mention in this and future installments with just a good sharp knife and a cutting board. However, these tools make preparation easier and faster. Where I am aware of possible substitutions, I will mention them as well.

Ultimate Chopper

I purchased an Ultimate Chopper when I saw one on television, to make baby food with. Of course, it never got used for that, as it was easier to buy jars of organic baby food, and now my daughter is too old to eat puree. I tried this item on our regular meals, but it has a tendency to reduce everything put in it to powder or mush. This doesn’t make it attractive as an adult human food processor, but it makes wonderful crab kibble. Unlike a regular food processor, it only handles small amounts of food at a time, and is easy to clean and assemble. I have been told that this item can also be found at Wal-Mart.

The Ultimate Chopper chops everything up into tiny bits the perfect size for crab maxillipeds to handle, from micro to jumbo. Your little crabs will be grateful for the help, and the bigger ones won’t complain about how easy it is to eat food prepared by this method.

If an Ultimate Chopper is not available to you, a regular food processor can be substituted. Or, lots of fine chopping and blending with your trusty sharp knife.

Mortar and Pestle
When grinding sources of calcium, pulverizing nuts and seeds, or breaking down dried seaweed or flowers, a mortar and pestle is invaluable. Marble or smooth granite are the best options. You will want to find one that is smooth, and not porous. Porous ones will be harder to clean, and harder to use. I bought mine on line at Temple of Thai. I have been told that these can be found at places like ‘Big Lots!’ for much less.

If a mortar and pestle is not something you are interested in investing in, putting the items you want to crush in a heavy duty freezer bag, wrapping it with a dishtowel, and beating it with a rolling pin, meat mallet, or hammer will also do the trick, though the resultant powder might not be as finely mashed, and you won’t have the fine control over the end result you will have with the mortar and pestle. But so long as your smaller crabs can eat the end result of your smashing, it’s not important to make it uniform.

Vegetable Grater

A normal sized kitchen grater will have holes a bit too large to use for crab food, for the most part. I happened to find a two and a half inch tall, scaled down version of this kitchen standby at Cost Plus World Market. It has the same faces as the regular kitchen grater, but is much smaller, making finer grated items. This item is optional, if you have an Ultimate Chopper or food processor, but I really like mine.

Cookware

As I mentioned in the Introduction, stainless steel or glass/ceramic/pyrex are the only safe options for cooking crab food. Most crab food does not require cooking; it’s just fun to experiment once in a while with culinary masterpieces the crabs might enjoy.

Even for boiling sponges, dishes, and shells, one should avoid all other types of cookware.

Bon appetit!

Foods Containing Carotenids

Foods containing carotenids for hermit crabs

Foods containing carotenids for hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab Sunday, 07 August 2005

This list contains foods that are moderate to high in beta carotene:

apricots
bell pepper of any color, red being the highest in carotenids
blueberries
broccoli
cantaloupe
carrot
chard
cilantro (raw)
collard greens
dandelion greens (raw)
fava beans in the pod (raw)
grape leaves (raw)
lettuce (dark varieties, not iceburg which is nutritionally empty)
mango
papaya
parsley (raw)
passionfruit
peaches
peas
persimmon
pineapple
pumpkin and squash, and seeds (dried)
snap beans (raw)
spinach
spirulina
seaweeds and microalgaes
sweet potato

Astaxanthin is another carotenid found in shrimp and krill and red seaweeds, that the crabs also use.

Tannin is also a color booster. Dried oak or sycamore leaves, or raisins help provide this substance.

Edible flowers for hermit crabs

Safe flowers for hermit crabs

Edible flowers for hermit crabs

Written by Julia Crab Monday, 23 May 2005

Did you know that flowers are good for crabs? They contain vitamin C as well as vitamin A and many of the pigmentation substances such as beta carotene. As there has been no study done on the nutritional content of flowers, much of their value remains a mystery. But crabs will enthusiastically eat flowers from this edible flower list, and prefer them as they wilt and die. Dead flowers are a particular favorite!

Before offering flowers, be sure to check that they have not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, and that they’ve been fed organic plant foods. Otherwise they will not be healthy for your crabs to eat. I frequently buy bouquets of edible flowers from the organic farmer’s market near my home.

The flowers can be frozen or put in a food dehydrator as well. In fact, my crabs seem to prefer the taste of a thawed rose to a freshly wilted one.

Here is our edible flower list. Read the article at the end to be certain of which parts of a plant to use.

Borage blossoms (Borago officinalis)
Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis)-Also known as “pot marigolds”
Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Chickweed
Clover (flowers, leaves)
Daisies (Bellis perennis)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (flowers, leaves, roots)
Day lilies (Hemerocallis)
Elderberry flowers (Sambucus canadensis)
Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.)
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Hollyhock
Honeysuckle flowers (Japanese Lonicera japonica)
Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)
Jasmine (Jasmine officinale)
Johnny-Jump-Up flowers–(Viola tricolor)
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Pansy (Viola X Wittrockiana) (flowers and leaves)
Passionflowers (Passifloraceae – passion flower family)
Petunia

Prickly Pear (flowers and cactus)
Rose (Rosa spp)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Squash blossoms
Sunflower (Helianthus) (flowers, leaves, seeds)
Tulips (Tulipa spp.)
Violet (Viola odorata)

Other herb flowers-The tiny flowering blooms of the following spices are edible: anise, basil, bee balm, chives, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

WHERE TO FIND SAFE, EDIBLE FLOWERS

Edible flowers often can be found at local farmer’s markets and gourmet grocery stores. Check with the vendor to be sure that they were organically grown. There are approximately eighty different flowers that can be safely used as food. The most enjoyable way to get these interesting additions to the diet of your family and your parrots is to grow your own!

GROWING YOUR OWN

Common edible flower varieties should be chosen for your first flower gardening adventure. Carefully follow planting, watering, and fertilization practices for garden flowers. Only organic pesticides should be used. Separate growing areas should be used for the growing of ornamental flowers requiring pesticides. Do not plant other annuals or perennials in the same area as edible flowers since pesticides from ornamentals could contaminate the edible varieties. Some gardeners plant their edible flowers indoors in sunny kitchen windows and under grow lights to avoid pesticide contamination.

SAFETY FIRST!

As much as crabs enjoy the variety and the visual stimulation of flowers in their diet, it is as essential that we learn the difference between toxic and non-toxic varieties, as it is to use only untreated flowers. One can use a good reference book on edible flowers, available in local libraries and online. Do not use flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. Unless otherwise stated, these flowers have almost certainly been treated with pesticides which were not intended for food crops. Chemicals are used in all phases of ornamental growth and these chemicals are unsafe for human or parrot consumption. Flowers picked from the side of the road never should be eaten by human or parrot. Highly poisonous herbicides are used to eliminate weeds and plants bordering roadways so roadside flowers can be deadly fare. One of the best books for identifying safe flowers is Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman’s Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide (Sterling Publishing Company).

MOST POPULAR EDIBLE FLOWERS

(These are the most commonly consumed flowers of the eighty edible
varieties.)

* Borage blossoms (Borago officinalis)-Tiny blue flowers have slight cucumber flavor.
* Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis)-Also known as “pot marigolds”, multi-colored blooms with a peppery taste. Sometimes
called “poor man’s saffron”
* Carnation flowers (Dianthus caryophyllus)-Red, pink, and white blossoms with clove taste.
* Chamomile flowers (Chamaemilum nobile)-Daisy-like flowers with a slight hint of apple flavor. Especially good for parrots when
calming influence is needed.
* Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)-the lavander-pink pom pom flower is actually composed of many small florets. Flowers have a mild
onion flavor.
* Daisies (Bellis perennis)-Yellow and white flowers with light mint or clover flavor. Flowers
* Dandelion flowers – pictured (Taraxacum officinale)-Small yellow blossoms have honey flavor when picked young. Older flowers are
bitter but my Eclectus parrots do not seem to notice. Also offer the dandelion leaves which are an excellent source of nutrition.
* Day lilies (Hemerocallis)-Many colored blossoms with sweet taste and crunchy lettuce texture. Flower buds and blossoms can be
consumed at all stages of growth. Note: Many lilies (Lillium species) contain alkaloids and are NOT safe for parrots or people.
* Elderberry flowers (Sambucus canadensis)-Sweet tasting flowers. For colds and chills, Gypsies mix elderberry flowers, yarrow
and peppermint and steep in boiling water for 13 minutes, and drink tea frequently.
* Gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.)Flowers of many colors grow on a spike with flowers above each other, all usually facing the same way.
Has lettuce texture and flavor.
* Hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)-Tropical blossoms in a variety of colors have slightly acidic taste. One of the favorite
flowers of most parrot species.
* Honeysuckle flowers (Japanese Lonicera japonica)-Small white to yellow trumpet-shaped blossoms are sweet and delicious. Parrots
relish these flowers and the Loridae family of birds especially loves the honeysuckle nectar. Only the Japanese honeysuckle is edible and only the blooms should be used as the berries are extremely poisonous. Offer only the flowers so that no berries on the vines will
accidentally be eaten.
* Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)-Multi-color small blooms with mild taste.
* Johnny-Jump-Up flowers–(Viola tricolor) Yellow, violet, and lavender flowers with wintergreen flavor. Leaves are also edible and
contain vitamin C.
* Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)–Lavender blossoms have heavy floral fragrance and lemon flavor.
* Marigolds flowers (Tagetes signata pumila)-Bright yellow and orange flowers with citrus flavor.
* Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)-Purple flowers are edible as well as leaves and seeds which are known for benefits to liver.
* Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)–Red, yellow, and orange flowers have a tangy, peppery flavor and are the most popular of all
edible flowers. Leaves can be eaten too.
* Pansies (Viola X Wittrockiana)-Purple, white, yellow bi-color blooms have a sweet, tart flavor. Flowers
* Passionflowers – pictured (Passifloraceae – passion flower family)–Passiflora caerulea and Passiflora edulis are two of the
hundreds of varieties. Some vines produce large greenish white and purple blossoms and then orange or purple edible fruit, depending upon the variety of the plant. *See website below with information and photos of 200 Passionflower varieties.
* Roses (Rosa spp)-Some of the tastiest rose varieties are Rosa xdamascena, Rosa gallica, and Rosa rugosa, Flower carpet rose,
Double Delight, Mirandy, and Tiffany variety. Roses have a slight fruity flavor.
* Sage (Salvia officinalis)-Lavender-blue flower spikes grow only on the culinary variety. The variegated species of sage do not
flower. Flowers have distinctive sage flavor.
* Other herb flowers-The tiny flowering blooms of the following spices are edible: anise, basil, bee balm, chives, coriander
(cilantro), dill, fennel, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
* Sunflowers (Helianthus)–Many varieties but most have yellow leaves around a “black eye” center. Mature flowers contain the seed
that all parrots find so irresistible!
* Tree flowers-Parrots can be offered the flowering blooms of the following trees: Apple, bottlebrush, citrus (orange, lemon, lime,
grapefruit, kumquat), eucalyptus, melaleuca, and plum.
* Tulips (Tulipa spp.)-Multi-color flowers with crisp, cucumber taste.
* Vegetable flowers-Butterblossom squash flowers have slight squash taste. Zucchini flowers, podded pea flowers (ornamental peas
are poisonous), okra, pumpkin, and runner bean flowers are edible.
* Violets (Viola odorata)-Deep violet and white color with sweet wintergreen taste.

FLOWER REMEDIES

Flowers The Bach Flower remedy system of healing was developed by the British physician, Dr Edward Bach, in the 1930s. The remedies are based on the belief that flowers have healing properties. Flower essences are prepared by the infusion methods and are used for the purpose of removing negative emotions that can affect health and lead to disease. Bach Flower remedies are prepared from the non-poisonous flowers of certain trees, plants and shrubs. They are non-toxic, non-addictive, and can be taken by people and pets of all ages. If these remedies do in fact have healing qualities, perhaps the fresh non-toxic flowers would have a similar effect. Examples of the healing qualities of edible flower remedies are honeysuckles (pictured) for homesickness, nostalgia, and sadness as well as impatiens flowers for irritability, impatience, nervous tension, and muscular pain.

PARTIAL LIST OF EDIBLE FLOWERS USED IN FLOWER REMEDIES

Flowers Aloe Vera Flower, Basil, Blackberry, Bleeding Heart, Borage, Calendula, California Wild Rose, Chamomile, Chrysanthemum, Corn, Dandelion, Dill Flower, Echinacea, Evening Primrose, Garlic, Hibiscus, Iris, Lavender, Milkweed, Mullein, Nasturtium (pictured), Peppermint, Pomegranate, Red Clover, Rosemary, Sage, Sunflower, Violet, Yarrow, Yerba Santa.

POISONOUS POSIES

There are many more flowers that are poisonous than are edible.The use of botanical names is important due to the fact that common names vary in different regions of the country. Two plants may be known by the same common name while one is toxic and the other is edible. The following is only a partial list of the most common toxic flowers and their botanical names:

* Anemone or windflower (Anemone spp.)
* Autumn crocus (Colchicum spp.)
* Azalea and rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
* Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.)
* Clematis (Clematis spp.)
* Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)
* Delphinium or Larkspur (Delphinium spp.)
* Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
* Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
* Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
* Iris (Iris spp.)
* Lantana (Lantana camara)
* Lobelia or Cardinal flower (Lobelia spp.)
* Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
* Morning glory (Ipomoea spp.)
* Oleander (Nerium oleander)
* Periwinkle myrtle and vinca (Vinca spp.)
* Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)

Additional Resources:
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/pets/poisonous_plants.pdf
http://www.library.illinois.edu/vex/toxic
http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/
http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccah/dogs/toxic-plant-garden.cfm

Book recommendations:
“Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide” by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman (Sterling Publishing Company).

“Edible Flowers: From Garden to Palate” by Cathy Wilkinson Barash (Fulcrum Publishing, 1993, 1995 $22.95)


Winged Wisdom Note: Carolyn Swicegood is a devoted fan of Eclectus parrots. Her aviary, The Land of Vos, specializes in the Vosmaeri subspecies. Carolyn has written for a variety of magazines and currently serves as Associate Editor of “Watchbird” magazine published by the American Federation of Aviculture. http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww38eii.htm

Special thank you to Vanessa Pike-Russell for locating and supplying the article.