Foraging for Tiger Lilies

      13 Comments on Foraging for Tiger Lilies
Tiger Lilies are invasive, but beautiful.

Tiger Lilies are invasive, but beautiful.

Eating Tiger Lilies

Tiger lilies are a wild variety of day lily (Hemerocallis) that often grows in naturalized clumps along ditches and roadsides. They are easy to spot and identify and, best of all, the entire plant is edible. I like to make salads with young day lily shoots in spring. The flavor of day lily shoots and flowers are mild and slightly sweet, very nice in a salad or stir fry.

These pretty pink daylilies are edible too!

These pretty pink day lilies are edible too!

If you are bumming out because you don’t have Tiger Lilies, but instead you have named varieties of day lilies growing in your flower garden, never fear! Any day lily can be used just like Tiger Lilies. I’ve found that the flavor is slightly different with some of the named varieties, and my favorite is Stella D’Oro, a small, yellow variety with a long bloom period and a nice sunny flavor. You may also forage for wild tiger lilies along country roadsides!

Not Asiatic Lilies!

One mistake you must avoid is confusing day lilies with Asiatic Lilies, which aren’t edible. Here is a photo of an Asiatic Lily so you can compare the two…

Asiatic Lilies

Asiatic Lilies. Do NOT eat these!!!

Although the flowers of Asiatic lilies look very similar to day lilies, the leaves are born along the stem, whereas day lily leaves grow from a basal rosette, like this…

Daylily leave grow from the base of the plant. Asiatic lily leaves grow along the stem.

Day lily leaves grow from the base of the plant. Asiatic lily leaves grow along the stem. Don’t get them confused!

Before you begin nibbling on lily flowers, make sure you have the correct species.

Note: Although I found one source that lists Asiatic Lilies as edible, I would not take the risk, unless I found more sources that list them as edible. They might not be poisonous, but just taste bad. I haven’t tested to make sure!

Daylily buds are great in stir fries and salads.

Daylily buds are great in stir fries and salads.

How To Prepare Day Lilies

Pick the day lilies, shoots, or buds just before you prepare them. They don’t keep well in the refrigerator. Wash thoroughly and remove stamens and pistils from open flowers. As I already mentioned, I like the young shoots in salads and stir fries. The flower buds and petals also taste great added to a salad.

Fresh salad with kale and day lilies from my garden.

Fresh salad with kale and day lilies from my garden.

The buds are delicious in stir fry dishes along with other veggies or preserved as brine cured pickles. Day lily flowers are great for stuffing with soft cheese and herbs as a side dish. Although I have never tried this, I’ve also read that you can stuff the flowers with meats, cheeses, or bread and herb stuffing and then deep fry them. I’m not really into deep frying my foods and losing all of the vitamins and fresh flavor. One of my favorite things about eating day lilies (besides the mild, sweet flavor) is knowing that I can forage for free food if I need to!


Do you eat day lilies? What is your favorite way to prepare them?

Disclaimer: Please use a reliable plant identification guide if you aren’t absolutely sure about plant species. I don’t want you to get sick!

13 comments on “Foraging for Tiger Lilies

  1. Pingback: The HomeAcre Hop #80

  2. Anonymous

    I am thinking that what you call a Tiger lily is not the same as what I call a Tiger lily. Day lily, yes, but not Tiger lily. The ones that I was always told were tiger lilies have black dots on the petals. Oh well, maybe, maybe not. 🙂

    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      That’s the problem with common names…I think you are describing an Asiatic lily, very different. That’s why I made sure to make the distinction between Asiatic and Day Lilies (Hemerocallis). Always double check if you are eating them!

    2. Alice

      Yes, me too. They [were/are] a darkish red orange with black spots. Are you from Maine? That is where I learned that they were Tiger Lilies — from my mother. And they appeared to be a “day lily”.

      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        Hi Alice,
        I’m from New York originally and I live in Illinois now. Most of the lilies that I have seen with dark spots on the petals are actually Asiatic lilies…not edible! And I believe that on visits to the Boston area, I remember hearing people refer to the orange Asiatic lilies as Tiger Lilies…so check to see if the leaves are growing along the stems (Asiatic lily) or if they are growing from the ground in a ‘basal rosette’ (day lily). Best wishes, and make sure before you sample!

        1. alicescofield

          Would if I could FIND any. Have only seen them in my home state of Maine—none in New Hampshire that I can find. And, at one time, I bought some “Tiger Lillies” mail away…they looked nothing like the ones back home; and yes, they were Asiatic lillies.

        2. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Wow, they grow like crazy around here…in the ditches and old farmsteads. Actually, you can eat the flowers of any daylily (hemerocallis) so if you order any you can use those. Just make sure that you are ordering Hemerocallis!

        3. Alice Scofield

          Hi again, sorry for any confusion. I have a YARD full of daylillies. Orange, russet, and yellow. I was talking about the pretty red with black or dark brown speckles that my mother called Tiger Lilies.
          I BELIEVE they were daylilies, but haven’t seen any (of that particular variety) since I left Maine…so, maybe not!

  3. Debbie

    Oh my goodness! I have bunches of these. They do multiply rapidly. It is so good to know they are edible though. Thank you Lisa. I am both surprised and delighted.

  4. Vickie

    Very interesting – I didn’t know you could eat these! I’m not really into deep frying either, but I would love to taste one stuffed with cheese or something like that. They look really pretty in your salad. Thanks for the information and inspiration!


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