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Cheese Board Don'ts: Using Poisonous Flowers

Cheese Board Don'ts: Using Poisonous Flowers

What this is: A lesson in keeping your cheese boards safe to eat

Who it’s for: Anyone inspired to put flowers on their boards.

Note: We never like to limit creativity, but there are a few things we think fall on the strongly Do Not Recommend list. This is one of those items. We encourage you to read with an open mind and consider our suggestions wisely, though ultimately you must make your own decision.

Stop. Please stop. Please stop putting poisonous flowers on your cheese boards. This is what we keep thinking as we see photo after photo of home cheese board businesses (which are probably not legally run, but don’t even get us started) putting poisonous flowers all over their food. 

If you’re tempted to put flowers on your board, please read through this list of suggestions and tips first.


  • Look up the type of flower you want to put on your board. Just google the name of the flower plus the word “poisonous”. Note: It doesn’t have to kill you to be poisonous enough to give you a rash, or to give your guests indigestion.
  • If the flower isn’t poisonous, but you bought it from the flower department, that still doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat. Non-poisonous flowers that are commercially grown usually still aren’t safe to eat because they are likely covered with pesticides. If you are buying from a florist, ask how they were grown—they should know.
  • Use only flowers that come packaged as edible. We know you think people are smart enough not to eat that big flower you meant for decoration, but someone will be silly after one too many Pinot Grigios and will take a bite, and it’s only half their fault.
  • Edible flowers are hard to find and when you do, they are not cheap. 

So, what’s a cheese board maker to do? You could try herbs instead. Stick with sage and rosemary—thyme and oregano dry up quickly and then just end up looking like sticks on your board. With that being said, we still don’t even really recommend using herbs! They aren’t really able to add to the balance and complexity of the board’s flavor profile. Either guests simply won’t eat them, or if they do, they might eat wait too much and overpower the other components. 

Instead, we strongly encourage you to use the inherent beauty in the lovely cheeses and pairings on your board for decoration. Thoughtful placement is all you need to make a beautiful cheese board, and the money you save on flowers can buy more and/or better quality cheese—yum! If you do still want flowers and don’t know if they are poisonous, use a small vase to set them apart from the food and signal your guests that they are not edible. Check out our favorite vase for this here.  


Rethink adding flowers to your boards. Don’t poison your guests. Make good choices.


Look for little bottles or jars you can use as a mini vase on your next cheese board. We especially enjoy the little skinny caper bottles for this. You can remove the label, or if it’s decorative, consider leaving it on for a little charm. These little vases only need 2-3 flowers and you may be able to find them in your garden. Choose flowers that are unscented so that it doesn’t affect the guests when they are eating your cheese. 


Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.

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