The plants bloom their heads off and create bright splashes of colour, while the young leaves can be added to salads or eaten straight.
If your intention is to harvest the young leaves and shoots, don’t let the plant flower. It tastes best that way. If you have a few plants, harvest shoots from all but one, allowing that to set seed.
I’d gladly eat a whole bunch of cosmos caudatus – it is that tasty, and more so since it is said to improve blood circulation, lower uric acid, reduce body ‘heat’ and is a good source of fibre. (http://herbs.ourborneo.com)
Unlike the pale pink of the caudatus, the flowers of the cosmos sulphureus are a bright orange or yellow. If you have the space, try planting lots of it since an expanse of blooming cosmos sulphureus is like a bed of sunshine. These eye-catching flowers also attract butterflies.
The Tawny Coster butterfly (IDed by Green Baron of Green Culture Singapore) loves the cosmos and always visits when the plants are in bloom. There must be something about the cosmos sulphureus that enthralls the Tawny Coster. It hovers over the flowers for what seems like an eternity, and ignores me as I attempt to photograph it from all angles.
The leaves of the cosmos sulphureus are also edible. The taste is however, very different from that of the caudatus. Try it and see.
Which would emerge the victor in a face-off between the caudatus and sulphureus? It all depends. While I prefer the orange and yellow flowers of the cosmos sulphureus, the taste of the cosmos caudatus wins hands down.
Care and propagation: well-drained soil; full sun; water moderately; propagate using seeds.