daylily fritters

Eating Daylilies: The Dos and Don’ts

Flowers are typically things we admire. We walk through gardens, woods and other natural landscapes and hover when we see flowers we like – pointing at them and commenting how much we enjoy their shape and color. Marveling at these plants and then eating them, on the other hand, is something a little more taboo. Daylilies are such flowers that are easily adored and surprisingly edible!

butterfly stampede daylily
Butterfly Stampede daylily

If you’re growing them in your own yard and are curious about turning your daylily displays into snacks, here are some recipes and safety tips to follow before these flowers take root on your plate.

DO Eat Every Part of the Daylily

You can pluck the young shoots, boil the tubers and munch on the flower bud and petals. The shoots should be harvested in early spring when they are tender. They should be sliced right above the soil level, and then you can use them in stir-fries or pasta. The tubers need to be dug up before flower stalks appear (which should be around late fall until early spring) because otherwise they’ll be mushy. All you have to do is dig up a clump of daylily roots, cut off most but not all of the tubers and replant all of the remaining roots and tubes, so that the daylily can grow back.

cheerio yellow daylily
Cheerio Yellow daylily

You can scrub and cook them just like potatoes. The flower buds develop in late spring and early summer and should be harvested when they’re green and firm. They can be steamed, boiled or stir-fried and are said to make great pickles. Lastly, the petals bloom in the full heat of summer and can be eaten fresh in salads and dried in broth or soups.

DON’T Just Eat Any Daylily or Anything That Looks Like a Daylily

Not all lilies are edible! Star lilies and some Asiatic lilies can be poisonous, where other lilies can cause your mouth, throat, tongue and lips to go numb. Eating peace lilies and calla lilies will cause your mouth to swell, and crinum, calla and true lilies can cause skin irritation for certain people who come into contact with them.

painted pixie asiatic lily
Painted Pixie Asiatic lily

When you find a plant that is definitely a daylily, be sure to rinse the flowers gently and check for ants or other insects that are hidden deep in the bloom. Don’t eat any daylilies that have been sprayed by road crews or other gardeners.

DON’T Eat Too Many Shoots

daylily shoot
Daylily shoots

Young shoots are said to have a sweet flavor, and the heart of the shoots are thought to be especially delicious. However, it’s important to be cautious when eating the shoot’s leaves because large quantities of them can cause hallucinations. Blanching the leaves removes this effect, which requires you to place the leaves in boiling water, remove them after a brief amount of time and plunge them into ice water. Sources indicate that you would need to eat several pounds of raw leaves before you would possibly experience hallucinations!

DO Experiment with Fun Daylily Recipes

Several sources say that a daylily’s flower bud tastes like a cross between asparagus and green peas, so they recommend sautéing the flower buds in a little garlic and butter. You can also dip them in a light batter, deep-fry them and sprinkle a pinch of salt on top to make something called a “daylily fritter.”

daylily fritters
Daylily fritters

When you ever feel like trying something new, don’t be afraid to pluck a daylily from your garden landscape and taste every part of it! Decide for yourself if they’re a perfect summer snack, give your own food review and let us know what you think. Be sure to check out our Daylily Display Garden at the Garden while the flowers are in peak bloom!


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