Have you ever heard of the Buzz Button™️, also known as the Szechuan Button? This small leafy plant, adorned with vibrant yellow flowers, is not only used in traditional medicine and as an ornamental plant but also for culinary purposes. However, what truly sets it apart is the extraordinary sensation it produces when consumed. Prepare to be amazed, for it’s the flower that fizzes!
If you’re on the lookout for intriguing edibles, my article on anxiety-reducing plants is a must-read. But now, let’s delve into the captivating world of the Buzz Button.
Unveiling the Enigma
The Buzz Button, or toothache plant, is a small leafy wonder that has been utilized for centuries in traditional medicine. Nowadays, it has found a place in cooking and mixology due to its incredible ability to make your mouth tingle and briefly go numb. Imagine pop rocks but in the form of a flower!
This plant, with its compact size of about 18 inches across and 1 foot high, bears numerous small round or cone-shaped flowers. Its leaves, roots, and flowers contain spilanthol, a bioactive compound known for its analgesic and antibacterial properties. In other words, it can numb and cleanse the skin.
Chefs and bartenders greatly value the tingling sensation that pervades the entire mouth, as it enhances and elevates the taste of dishes and drinks.
A Safe and Sensory Delight
You might be wondering if it’s safe to consume the Buzz Button plant. Rest assured, it poses no harm. However, it is not renowned for its taste. People consume it for the unique sensory experience it elicits—mouth tingling and numbing.
Among its edible parts, the flowers contain the highest concentration of spilanthol. You can consume them whole to savor the fun encounter or add them to drinks and food for an extra kick.
In South American folk medicine, this plant has been safely used for centuries to alleviate toothache and sore throat pain. In North America, chefs employ it to awaken the palate and intensify the flavors of their culinary creations. It’s not uncommon to find a whole Buzz Button flower adorning a tempting drink as a garnish.
An Unforgettable Experience
Eating a Buzz Button flower is truly a remarkable adventure. Allow me to paint a picture of what happens when you take a bite:
- Your tongue comes alive with a tingling sensation.
- Your salivary glands become hyperactive, causing your mouth to fill with saliva.
- Your taste buds perceive a salt-like flavor.
It’s undeniably weird, but in the most intriguing way. The size of the flower determines the strength of these effects.
Let me introduce you to a plant that I love growing and always enjoy daring people to try. Even after explaining everything that happens upon consuming it, they willingly indulge.
Initially, I regarded this plant as a mere novelty. However, upon further research, I discovered that it has been extensively studied and unraveled a multitude of potential applications.
So, what can you do with Buzz Buttons? Here are just a few ideas:
- Offer them to a friend and witness their bewildered expression as they munch on the flower.
- Utilize them as a topical anesthetic, earning them the nickname “toothache plant.”
- Enhance the flavors of cocktails and food, as they have the ability to make other tastes explode.
- Imagine a potential Botox alternative!
- Delight in specialty boozy drinks crafted by skilled mixologists. (This flower skyrocketed the popularity of “The Verbena” drink at the Chandelier Bar in Vegas.)
- Add the petals and leaves to salads, pasta, rice, and myriad other dishes to infuse them with a buzz and elevate the flavor.
Here are a few tantalizing recipes that incorporate Buzz Buttons:
- Buzz Button Brownies
- Buzzy Chocolate Truffles
- Buzz Button Salt Prawns
- Tootsie Pop Rock Martini
- Lime Sorbet with Coconut Cream
A World of Varieties
When it comes to Buzz Buttons, you have two options. There’s the classic all-yellow variety, which I personally adore, and there’s a captivating variation known as the bullseye plant. The latter boasts the same flower appearance, but with a dark brown center that resembles a bullseye.
Growing Buzz Buttons from seed is a fairly straightforward process. However, keep in mind that they may take some time to sprout, and the initial seedlings are incredibly tiny. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you cultivate these remarkable plants:
- Start planting the seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost date.
- Cluster the seeds in a small pot of soil, ensuring they make contact with the soil. Sprinkle approximately 1 mm of dry soil over the top and press it down gently. Avoid watering the top layer; the moisture from below will suffice.
- Cover the pot with plastic wrap or a plate to retain moisture. Check on the pot daily. Once you spot sprouts (this may take 1-2 weeks), remove the plastic or plate and place the pot under lights or on a windowsill.
- As soon as the first set of true leaves emerges, you can transplant each seedling into the garden or into its own small pot or cell pack.
- Wait until the danger of frost has passed before planting them outdoors.
- Buzz Buttons thrive in full sun but can tolerate some shade.
- If you leave the plant in the fall without cleaning up the garden, it will self-seed. Come spring, you’ll witness multiple sprouts that can be transplanted, left to grow, or shared with others.
- If you plan on using the flowers for medicinal purposes, pick them when they reach full maturity and display a bright yellow color. Dry them by hanging, placing them in the oven on a low temperature, or using a dehydrator.
- Once you successfully grow these plants from seed, you won’t need to purchase more. They produce an abundance of seeds per flower, which you can collect and store for future use.
A Playful Addition to Your Decor
Buzz Button stems are surprisingly sturdy for their size, and they reach a length of approximately 5 inches. These delightful flowers can last for days on end when placed in a vase.
I have personally grown toothache plants for many years, and they remain one of my favorites. There’s something incredibly satisfying about offering someone a flower and observing their face undergo a multitude of transformations. Additionally, they look absolutely adorable in small vases.
If you fancy larger flowers, I recommend exploring my favorite dahlia varieties to grow. While dahlias are also edible, they lack the effervescent zip of Buzz Buttons.
Interestingly, this plant doesn’t attract any bothersome pests. It seems that humans are the only ones foolish enough to crave its peculiar taste.
To embark on your very own Buzz Button adventure, visit the Ames Farm Center website and explore their selection of these fascinating plants.
Now you’re armed with the knowledge of the extraordinary Buzz Button. It’s time to add a touch of fizz to your life, whether in the form of culinary experiments or captivating conversations. Embrace this unique sensory experience and let the Buzz Button take you on an unforgettable journey.