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.
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…
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…
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!
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.
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!