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Delightful Daylilies

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Daylily is the common name of the species of the genus Hemerocallis. Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words hemera, meaning “day” and kalos, translating to “beautiful.” The flowers of most species open at sunrise and wither at sunset, often replaced by another on the same stem the next day. Some species are night-blooming.

Once considered part of the Lily family, daylily is more botanically correct placed into the Hemerocallidaceae family because they grow from tuberous, fleshy roots rather than bulbs. They are not true lilies, though they are related and have lily-like trumpet flowers. They are also known as “Eve’s thread,” “orange day lily,” and “tawny orange lily.”

The first written record of daylilies is from about 2697 B.C. when Emperor Huan Ti arranged for a Materia Medica to be written conveying herbal wisdom. Daylilies were being used for food and considered beneficial to the lungs, mind, and for strengthening willpower. Wild plants were transplanted to the garden for home use. Cultivation in the west began after a French botanist wrote of them in 1575, and were then brought to America by early settlers, who cherished it as food, and it’s ease of transport across the ocean. Legend indicates that it was brought to North America by sea captains, who presented the flowers to their wives after traveling the Orient. In the 20th century, cross-pollination began in North Carolina and an explosion of hybrids have ensued ever since.

Depending on the species, young shoots can be harvested from late winter and for much of the spring. The sprouting leaves that appear in the spring have a sweet, pleasant flavor and can be used as an excellent vegetable; though older shoots quickly become tough and fibrous. In spring, cut the 3- to 5-inch outer leaves from their grassy clump, taking care not to damage flowering stalks. Asians have long used the leaves as a painkiller, so consume only small amounts. The hearts of the shoots are especially delicious.

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Brigitte Mars

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over 40 years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts and has a private practice. Brigitte is the author of 12 books, including Rawsome!. Find more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at Also check out her international model yogini daughter, Rainbeau at


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7:59PM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

6:23PM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

Beautiful flower. The recipes sounds good. Thanks for sharing.

1:43PM PDT on Jul 31, 2010

I like the flowers but I won't dare to eat it ...

6:31PM PDT on Jul 28, 2010

I love daylilies! My mother had these planted around the house. I see them growing by roadsides and along highways, as they do really well even in polluted soil. Never knew they were edible.

11:55PM PDT on Jul 26, 2010

I cut up the flowers with a pair of kitchen sissors and sprinkle the on top of a salad.

6:08PM PDT on Jul 25, 2010


10:21AM PDT on Jul 21, 2010

Really interesting...especially the fact that the leaves can be used for pain relief. Thanks much!

8:58PM PDT on Jul 20, 2010

Thanks Brigitte for the greenstar. Much appreciated indeed. I love learning about alt medicines/naturopathy and homeopathy and plants that are good for our bodies. Facinating. I know quite a bit but am not an encyclopedia. Day lillies are really stunning and in spring its delicious to go and take a walk around the block and see what other like minded gardeners have planted and spot the day lillies. I love Blood you know them? The colour of them is sensational. There are some really amazing different colours and markings. All in all they are gorgeous. Thanks....

6:17PM PDT on Jul 20, 2010

I'd love to try eating this, but I no longer have a yard to grow them in, and I've never seen them in food stores....

3:38PM PDT on Jul 20, 2010

as always, thankyou brigitte for your attention to detail, and especially the historic timeline (which i write down in a notebook)

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Gratitude for the information.

Fruits and vegetables are getting so expensive at markets and grocery stores its sad. The stuff th…

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