I told you not to eat your dahlia tubers.
Now I have to eat my words.
Searching the Stanford Dahlia Project site for a particular heirloom hybrid, I ran across what purports to be the earliest western record of dahlias, written in 1570 by the physician Francisco Hernandez. He describes a plant found in the mountains of the Quauhnahuascenses. (Quauhnahuac is the Aztec word for Cuernavaca, so I assume that’s the area referred to.)
The soft-tissued flower, Hernandez wrote, has leaves similar to those of Mountain Nard but cut, with stellate flowers and double roots. He wrote, “In taste the root is smelly, bitter, sharp; it is hot and dry in the third degree, one ounce eaten relieves stomach ache, helps windiness of the stomach, provokes urine, brings out sweat, drives out chill, strengthens a weak stomach against chill, resists the cholic, opens obstructions, reduces tumors.”
It didn’t take much searching to come up with another site that touts dahlias as both beautiful and edible. In addition to the petals (and just imagine the great look the spicy-sweet petals of your favorite dahlia will add to your summer salads!) the roots are edible; some are even tasty, according to writer William Woys Weaver. His article in Mother Earth News points out that as a relative of sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes, dahlias have lots of potential for the table. However, it’s the older, less showy varieties that taste best, he says.
Flavors, according to Weaver, range from spicy apple to carrot, though some are “quite bland.” He recommends peeling, dicing and parboiling them for five minutes with diced carrots as the basis for a salad in a homemade mayonnaise base.
Well, it’s something to do with the extra tubers without eyes left over when you divide your thriving dahlias.
At this point, all I’m going to eat is my words.