Day Lily (Hemerocallis sp.)

Day Lilies have stunning, edible flowers.
Day Lilies have stunning, edible flowers.

Common names: Day Lilies

Taxonomic name: Hemerocallis species

Family: Asphodelaceae

Uses: Food, decoration, sore throats, fluid retention, blood in urine

Area of origin: Eastern Asia

Warnings: Don’t confuse other Lilies with Day Lilies. Other Lilies have toxic compounds in them. See below for identification tips.

One of the many varieties.

There are hundreds of kinds of Day Lily,

Day Lilies are all members of the genus Hemerocallis. They all bear large, spectacular flowers that last only a day each. Fortunately, each plant bears quite a few flowers.

Besides their beauty and variety, Day Lilies have another thing going for them – you can eat them. Yes, every part is edible! Roots, leaves, flowers – the whole thing.

I will admit though that my favourite part is the stamen. They are long, crispy and kind of sweet. I just pinch one or two off every time I pass and crunch down on them happily.

Herbally, Day Lillies are useful for sore throats, laryngitis and fluid retention. Chinese medicine uses them further for jaundice, blood in the urine and faeces and a prolapsed rectum. They’re good for you from one end to the other!

How to tell a Day Lily from other Lilies

It’s important to distinguish an edible Day Lily from a toxic Lily. Fortunately, its pretty easy to do so. Just check out these four points of identification on the plant that you have –

  • Day Liliy flowers have 6 petals, true Lilies have 5
  • Day Lilies have 6 or 7 stamen, true Lilies always have 6
  • Day Lilies have thick, tuberous roots, true Lilies have bulbs
  • Day Lilies have long, strap-like leaves that grow at ground level from the crown of the plant. True Lilies have leaves that grow around the stem in a spiral.

Of course, play it safe and if there is any doubt, don’t eat it!