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Daylilies for food

 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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Since a lot of my gardening happens in my suburban front yard, I'm really big on edible landscaping. Daylillies are so easy to grow that in many some gardeners describe them as a weed. Not quite that easy here, but still very easy. I've tasted the flower buds and agree with my nieces that at least the "stella d'oro" variety tastes like lettuce. Supposedly the spent flowers are traditionally used in soup in China and I've heard that the root forms a tasty edible tuber. Except for taste testing the flower buds, this is all 'stuff I learned on the internet.' Does anyone here have actual experience with growing these for food?
 
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Location: N-E edge of Atlanta
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here they are called ditch lilies
and that is where I collect flower buds when up in the mountains
plus I harvest as much as I dare off of the ones in my yard

dining on daylilies
 
Casie Becker
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I'm curious what the dare is in harvesting the ones from your yard? Are you constrained by neighborhood expectations like I feel or some other reason?
 
ev kuhn
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I want them to thrive and multiply
if I eat them all ...

so I rather eat the ones that grow along some lonesome mountain road
and spare mine
 
Casie Becker
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Okay, I can see that. I'm thinking of using them at the base of my espaliered fruit trees in the front yard. Tuber tasting wouldn't happen until they start trying to escape the beds.
I saw the bare root plants have arrived at the nurseries, which is what prompted my question. I think I'm gonna be planting daylillies tomorrow.

Thank you for confirming both them being edible, and vigorous.
 
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I love ditch lilies. They grow well under black walnuts that tend to kill everything else. I have some steep ditch banks I used to graze that I stabilized with lilies and they would produce 6-8" of good grazing for goats and sheep when the red fescue was just waking up in the semi shaded cold areas!! I could graze off 50-60% of initial leaf growth, allow it to regrow and it would shoot full flowers and continue to spread every year. I'm going to cut off the top 1/2 of leaf growth this year when it hits 8-10" and feed it to rabbits and see if it kills them or grows them! I suspect it will be a good front yard guerilla grazer technique.

 
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I've got several feral patches in the vicinity of my yard, though I haven't much propagated them except to spread a few clumps with my shovel. I've got a thread here showing pictures of the tubers, if you're curious what those look like:

http://www.permies.com/t/34208/soil/Edibles-feral-Day-Lilies-growing

I find the buds very tasty and I especially like the lower portion of the stems, the part that is white like a leek at the base. The tubers also taste good but they are pretty small to be messing with in my opinion.

One word of warning: some of the herbals and wild food guides I consulted contained vague imprecations against eating "too many" day lilies. Not much useful was on offer as to what was "too much" or what the negative consequence might be. I ate them in small quantities with no problems. Then came the day I decided to make a substantial salad of day lily stems, redbud flowers, and native pecans. About twenty day lily stems went into the salad. It was beautiful, but ... how to put this delicately? The salad passed through my system at a high velocity, picking up and taking with it most of the water in my body as it went.

But it was a very pretty salad:

 
master pollinator
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Apparently, some daylilies may be hybridized with less-edible species, so one should take care to grow the old fashioned ditch lily kind Hemerocallis fulva http://www.eattheweeds.com/daylily-just-cloning-around-2/

Personally I have not had much success growing them, so have not eaten those in my garden, and I must admit, I don't even know what variety they are!

 
pollinator
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Another common plant with similar qualifiers is the hosta. Only lately has it gotten around in America that the young shoots of at least one common species of hosta are edible, and popular where this plant is native in Asia. But like the daylily, there are many species and many more cultivated varieties and hybrids, all of which need to be vetted carefully for edibility and digestibility before recommending all Hosta shoots for food with impunity.
 
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