What would it be like to live on a diet of nothing but flowers? From the perspective of human nutrition, conventional wisdom suggests that it would be difficult to obtain a well-balanced diet from flowers alone. We do, however, have the legend of the lotus-eaters, people encountered by Odysseus and his crew on their epic return journey from Troy. As recounted in the Odyssey, lotus-eaters lived life in a perpetual stupor, and the two crew members who sampled lotus flowers immediately lost all interest in returning to their homes in Ithaca. Upon seeing the danger of consuming these flowers—the botanical identity of which is the subject of some debate—Odysseus hastily departed the strange land of lotus-eaters. That story, of course, is legend, and I doubt that there have been any successful human cultures that have subsisted entirely on flowers.

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Copyright © 2018 The Quarterly of the Virginia Native Plant Society. This article first appeared in Sempervirens Summer 2018: 6-7.

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