Bowl Full Of Daylilies
(Image credit: ma li)

Keeping an edible food garden is an excellent way to stretch your grocery dollar and provide interesting, often hard to find delicacies. But you don't have to sacrifice beauty for food. Daylilies are staggeringly beautiful, and have the potential to grace your dinner table. So if you are questioning, "is daylily edible," ask no more. And best of all, they exists in many regions and climates. 

Are Daylilies Edible?

Can I eat daylilies? All of us can! If you have a plant you can harvest 4 daylily edible parts in different seasons of the year. Daylilies originated in Asia but have become naturalized in most of the US. In fact, they are noxious weeds in many states. Wild daylilies are a fortunate sight for serious foragers. You can eat the tubers, young shoots, flower buds, and flowers. Each part has a different flavor and texture. they can be eaten as a stand-alone side dish or added to soups, stews, and salad. 

A word of caution: Be certain your plant is a daylily, as lookalike true lilies can cause some serious gastrointestinal issues as well as other symptoms. 

Daylily Edible Parts

Now that we have answered the "are daylilies edible" question, we can turn our attention to what parts we can enjoy. The plant has been part of Asian cuisine for centuries and is even deemed to have certain medicinal powers. You can eat young shoots in spring, either raw or sautéed gently. They are considered similar to a young asparagus shoot, but with a lighter flavor. The flower buds are quite a delicacy. Sautéed or steamed, their flavor is said to resemble young green beans. Use them in similar ways. The open flower, which only lasts 1 day, can be wrapped around rice or other savory stuffing. They don't have much flavor but make a pretty dish. The best parts are the tubers. They are used like fingerling potatoes, but have a better flavor. 

Which Daylilies are Edible? 

As long as you have correctly identified a plant as a Hemerocallis, you can eat it. The most flavorful are said to be the common variety, Hemerocallis fulva. Those are the yellow ones that are so common they are almost a plague.

There are around 60,000 varieties of daylily due to diligent breeding, and it is not suggested they are all edible. Some may cause irritable stomachs, while other simply taste awful. In spite of many foragers touting the tastiness of all species of Hemerocallis, it is best to stick with the common variety which is genuinely yummy and safe to eat. As with any new food, try just a little bit at first to gauge your reaction and its usefulness to your palate.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.