Blog: The Gathering Place
by rudenski

Edible Day Lillies

Edible Daylilies

Daylilies, known as Hemerocallis fulva by botanists, are naturalized throughout much of America. They are especially hardy in warm dry areas. The orange colored blossoms are often seen along roadsides and in abandoned home gardens during June and July. All cultivated varieties of daylily are edible.

Date:   5/22/2009 9:34:29 AM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 5137 times

Flowers and flower buds of daylilies are delicious and quickly prepared for eating. The flowers are used in soups, meat dishes, and with noodles. Prepare the flowers for eating by removing the basal end (ovary) and dicing the rest. Flowers can be used for garnishing foods in somewhat the same way as mushrooms are employed. These flowers add substance, color, and pleasing flavors to foods. Fresh flowers are best for eating since some flavors are altered when they are preserved by drying and freezing.

Both the buds and the blossoms of day lilies are edible, a fact I regrettably learned only after I had dug out numerous flowering clusters encroaching on my lawn. But now I get a kick out of astonishing friends when I casually pluck a daylily "bean" from their backyard patch, and take a bite. Next thing you know, they're inviting me to gather a handful, which I'm happy to add to my next stir-fry. And they're happy to know that when the vivid flowers bloom, they will make a sweet-spicy bonus in the kitchen.

Day lilies are a common garden plant that have "gone wild." They're found throughout most parts of the United States from late spring through summer, often near sunny fields, roadsides and empty lots.

Buds are distinguished from the plant's non-edible fruits by their layered interiors. Choose smallish buds that are just beginning to open and cook them as you would beans: boil and serve them with butter or add chilled, tender-cooked buds to salads. Or, if you happen upon a spicy batch (they're typically mild-flavored, like beans or zucchini), stir-fry them with Asian flavors.

Day lily buds will keep in the refrigerator for several days, but the delicate flowers (trumpet-shaped blooms that grow in multiples on a leafless stalk) should be consumed the same day they are picked; they are very short-lived. You can add the petals to egg dishes, soups and salads, or dip whole flowers in batter and deep-fry them, as you would squash blossoms.

Day lily Recipes
Orange and Ginger Glazed Day lily Buds
Tapioca in Day lily Blossom Cups

Day Lily Nutrition Facts

Day Lily (per 100g)
Hemerocallis fulva

Calories 42
Protein 2g
Fat .4g
Calcium 87mg
Phosphorus 176mg
Iron 1.2mg
Sodium 24mg
Potassium 170mg
Vitamin A 3,000 I.U.
Thiamin .16mg
Riboflavin .21mg
Niacin .8mg
Vitamin C 88mg

Day lily buds, raw (per 100g)
Hemerocallis fulva

Calories 42
Protein 2g
Fat 0.0g
Calcium 87mg
Phosphorus 176mg
Iron 1.2mg
Sodium 0.0mg
Potassium 0.0mg
Vitamin A 3,000 I.U.
Thiamin .16mg
Riboflavin .21mg
Niacin .08mg
Vitamin C 88mg

Having your flowers and eating them too
The lovely daylily an edible delight Roberta Floden, Special to The Chronicle

There are those who eschew the daylily (Hemerocallis species) for the flower garden. After all, their blossoms last exactly as long as their name implies, both in English and in Greek (hemera means day and kallos means beauty), they can be invasive, and they are rather common. I used to be such a person, until I discovered that all parts of the plant -- the sprouting leaves that appear in the spring, the summer buds and blossoms, the leaves and even the rhizomes -- are edible. When I began to think of the daylily as a charming, perennial vegetable, I immediately found a sunny spot for it.

Considered a delicacy by wild food gatherers and knowledgeable chefs, the daylily has a long history in Chinese medicine and cuisine. It was originally brought to America by early settlers, who revered it not only for its ease of transport across the seas and its success in alien soil but also for its nourishing food as well. It can be dined on for months.

Harvesting: The first harvest takes place in early spring, when the tasty and tender young foliage appears. At this time, you can cut the 3- to 5-inch outer leaves from their grassy clump, taking care not to damage the flowering stalks. Similar in taste to creamed onions when simmered or stir-fried in oil or butter, the leaves may also have a mild uplifting effect. Indeed, the Chinese used them as a painkiller.

The second harvest is during the summer when the daylily flower buds and blossoms appear. These -- especially the pale yellow and orange varieties --

are the sweetest, most delectable parts of the plant. They can be eaten at all stages of their growth, raw or cooked. The tightly closed flower buds and the edible pods add interest to salads but also can be boiled, stir-fried or steamed with other vegetables. The blossoms, with their flowery taste and slightly mucilaginous texture, add sweetness to soups and vegetable dishes. Half opened, fully opened and even day-old daylily blossoms may be dipped in a light batter of flour and water and fried in a wok, tempura style. Dried daylily petals, called "golden needles" by the Chinese, are an ingredient in many Chinese recipes, including hot-and-sour soup.

At almost any time of growth you can harvest the thick, fleshy, tuber- like roots. You will find them quite crisp, with a nutty flavor. They can be eaten raw on the spot, or added to salads and all kinds of soups and stews. You can also boil, stir-fry or cream them, serving them as a side dish in place of potatoes. They are at their best in late fall or winter after they have stored nutrients from summer growth. This is also the best time to rejuvenate any overgrown clumps. Just dig the plant up carefully, divide the sausage-shaped roots, select a number of firm, white ones for your table, and replant -- or share -- the rest. The roots are sometimes used in China for their mild diuretic and laxative properties.

Possible allergies: Daylily leaves, flowers and tubers are listed in virtually every book as edible. However, some people have allergic reactions to unusual compounds in plants. It's important to be cautious. The first time you sample any part of a daylily, taste only a small piece and have a friend with you. Wait at least an hour before trying more, and then take small amounts, tasting before swallowing. If it tastes bitter, too spicy, weird or unpalatable, don't swallow it. Spit it out.

Cultivation: Daylilies are hardy herbaceous perennials, tough and trouble free. They grow in almost any kind of soil, in sun or half shade, and establish themselves as quickly in the garden as they do in the wild.

Because they grow from tuberous, somewhat fleshy roots rather than bulbs, they are not true lilies -- although they are related and their flowers are lilylike trumpets. Daylilies spread by these underground roots, sending them out to form broad patches. Plant them giving them the space they need to multiply, with the crown no more than 1 inch below the soil.

link to

On the roster of edible flowers, daylilies are practically unknown as a food source in the United States. Although most collectors cringe at the thought of chomping coveted blooms, common daylilies have been everyday fare for centuries in other cultures. With little fanfare, naturalized daylilies have crept into fields and byways across America, 50,000 cultivars spawning a rainbow of color, form and size in some of the most lavish gardens in the country. But only recently has this exquisite blossom leaped from the centerpiece to the plate.

Characterized by long, dense fans of leaf blades shooting from the roots, daylilies (Hemerocallis) form a clump of greenery with emerging tall flower stalks called scapes. Flowers can be as common as the Stella D’Oro, whose orange flowers line municipal medians in Denver’s Greenwood Village, or as exotic as recent forms with long, twisted, ruffled petals and silver or gold-banded edges.

Some people prefer the flavor of the dried flowers to the fresh, but fresh appeals more to Western gardeners who would need a large number of plants to get any substantial harvest. Even one fresh flower makes a stunning presentation.

Fresh flowers and buds have a sweet flavor with no bitter aftertaste like many edible flowers. Pleasant but non-nondescript, the flavor of daylilies has been compared to a range of mild-flavored vegetables from lettuce to zucchini. Daylilies complement a wide variety of hot and cold savory foods, including soups and stews, but fresh buds and petals are usually reserved as a special topping or garnish for dishes of contrasting color, where their beauty stands out.

Fresh buds, petals and whole flowers can be eaten cooked or raw. Buds are tossed into stir-fries or sautéed alone and placed on top of a particular food. Fresh petals are strewn over green and other salads. Whole blossoms are used to adorn cakes, or stuffed with special ingredients and placed on serving platters or individual plates.

Few flowers rival the daylily for broad appeal. Gourmets, naturalists, professional botanists, novices and master gardeners, all seem to have found a niche in the species and cultivars of the Hemerocallis.


A note on recipes: all flowers should be pesticide-free with stamens removed. Stamens hold the pollen of a flower and may encourage allergies.

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