Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Daylily, Another Unexpected Edible

        I completely forgot about daylilies when I was planning the Children's Garden. They are a low maintenance perennial with grassblade-like foliage and pretty flowers.  They come to us from China, and have naturalized all across the country.  I've known for decades that you can eat the tubers raw in salads, boiled like potatoes, or creamed. I wasn't aware that the tubers can cause digestive problems and flatulence. The young leaves can be eaten too, but again, too many can be toxic. That the buds and flowers are edible is a bonus I learned about only recently. I've found no warnings about toxicity* for these, except to make sure what you pick is organically grown.  Avoid buds and flowers growing along the road.
        Daylilies grow well even in poor soil. They're doing fine in the clay along the road out front. They like both sun and partial shade.  I relocated groupings near the three trees in the Children's Garden and used two or three hundred as a buffer between the hay field and the Apple Guild. They're thriving even though they were moved while in bloom.  I haven't noticed any adverse effect on the daylilies or the other plants I've set around the black locust trees so maybe my hostas dying off wasn't due to toxins from the trees.    
       The flowers would be a pretty decoration for a special event cake.  Or add them to a salad, or dip in an egg batter and fry.  I'll have to keep this in mind to try next year with the grandchildren.     
       I harvested some nearly-ready-to-open buds and boiled them for a few minutes in half water/half butter.  My husband declared the lily population was in trouble--because he liked them.  I thought they needed a little something: a sprinkle of garlic, basil, or parsley, perhaps. But even for me, they were palatable, and I'm a notorious vegetable hater. I found a recipe for Fried Rice with Dayliles that I expect to try next year too.  Unfortunately, Riley isn't particularly fond of fried rice, while I love the stuff. 
       Having missed a plant as obviously suitable for my purposes as the daylily, I'm wondering what other treasures are out there that I haven't considered.

*I've found no mention of toxicity in what are generally called ditch lilies, as pictured above, but some day lilies are toxic. 

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