Edible Daylilies?

ne of my favorite garden catalogs is from Oikos Tree Crops in Kalamazoo, Michigan www.oikostreecrops.com. Not for them ordinary garden frou-frou. They offer trees, yes, including a rather amazing number of oak trees with edible acorns, but also thimbleberry bushes, wild goose plums, quince trees, edible violets, and on and on and on. If you are interested in growing renewable food sources in your garden, this catalog is a must.  So last year I jumped in and ordered an edible mountain daylily(Hemerocallis middendorfii) from them. I had heard that daylily buds were edible, but I had already tried one too many supposedly edible flowers or weeds that actually tasted like styptic pencils to feel enthusiastic about trying them. But I planted the edible daylily, and it came up–woosh-and immediately began to spread.  Uh-oh. Its flower was the same

The edible daylily–Hemerocallis middendorfii.

orange as the regular old orange daylily and I was a bit disappointed, but I had purchased the plant to eat, not admire, so I reserved judgment. You are supposed to eat the buds when they have turned color and are ready to bloom. I snapped off a bud, and, taking a deep breath, ate one. Well, it was awfully good. So I ate another one. The buds are mild tasting, not like chicken, exactly, but like a zucchini with the faintest garlic undertone, and with a tender crunchiness.

(Note: Regarding daylily bud edibility, I advise just eating one or two buds to make sure they agree with you, before eating a large quantity.)

The next day, unafraid, I walked up to a regular old bunch of orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva), and snapped off a bud. I tasted. It tasted almost the same as the so-called edible daylily, though not quite as delicate in texture. Tasted good though. I really could see making a stir fry with these, maybe starting with some garlic sizzling in olive oil, and then throwing in the buds and sprinkling with fresh lemon juice.

Common roadside daylily–Hemerocallis fulva.

As you may surmise, I have eaten these buds and am still alive, but I don’t recommend eating any other part of the daylily. Also, while many Internet sources say that the Chinese dry daylily buds and call them “Golden Needles,” in fact, they use Tiger Lily buds for this purpose, which is a different plant entirely. As I type this, I am aware of the Tiger Lilies getting ready to bloom just outside my window. How can I not try them? Stay tuned.

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5 thoughts on “Edible Daylilies?

  1. Oh, my – Fran, please be careful eating the Tiger Lillies. Some lillies are quite poisonous. I love the roadside daylillies and may try one since you are alive after eating it, but worry about the Tiger Lillies. Totally different species. Please post soon so we know you are alive!!!

  2. Don’t worry! I will definitely do more research on this. Daylilies are in the genus Hemerocallis.Tiger Lilies are in the genus Lilium.I am very careful about what I nibble at. That’s why I don’t recommend eating any other part of the daylily–just because the bud is edible doesn’t mean any other part of it is.

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