Before Dahlias became “flowers”, they were first raised for their edible tubers. Dahlias are very closely related to “Sunchokes” a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichokes, Yacon, and other sunflowers which make edible tubers. When I say “edible”, that does not necessarily mean digestible! These sunflower relatives have a polysaccharide called inulin, which can taste somewhat sweet, but can’t be digested by humans. So, these foods are safe for diabetics and those who need to watch their blood sugar levels. All should be eaten in moderation until your body gets used to the unusual food. Otherwise, symptoms of indigestion can occur.
Dahlias were often grown as food in Mexico and Central America, and that’s what Europeans originally had in mind. However, the discovery of potatoes happened about the time that a double-flowered Dahlia was bred. Potatoes taste better; Dahlias were lovelier, and the plants were assigned to different purposes.
I’m growing what is called “Pineapple Dahlia”, an old edible heirloom with simple red flowers. Supposedly, the tubers can have a pineapple flavor. I have not detected this yet. Here’s the plant:
The flowers are lovely!
I dug a young, pale tuber and scrubbed it before tasting it.
It was pleasant, nutty and sweet. Did it taste remotely of pineapple? No. I put some in the fridge to see if the fruity flavor develops. In any case, it’s an unusual addition to the vegetable garden.