Saturday, June 7, 2014

Orange Daylilies

Many people speak disparagingly of orange daylilies calling them ditch lilies. But as for me, I admire their cheerful color and their hardiness. An outstanding arrangment can be made with orange day lilies and Queen Anne's lace. And the arrangment changes every day as each flower only lasts one day, but the next day others open.
I know a place along AL state rd 147 where the lilies form a thick blooming orange mass in season. The road maintanence crew have tried mightily in the last few years to kill them with the best Monsanto has to offer, to no avail. They may get cut back by mowers or chemicals, but they always return. Their persistence is truly unbelievable. They are usually still growing at old home sites long after even the foundation stones are gone.
 The original plant Hermocallis fulva seldom to never makes seeds but spreads by underground rhizomes (fleshy roots). It is a clone, so all the orange daylilies you see have the same genetic make-up. It appeared in European writings in the 1500's, and came to North America in the 1600's. It is of Asian origin and the clone has been in existence for thousands of years.
 In Asia it was (and still is) eaten,. All parts are said to be edible, albeit at various stages. The stems and leaves become too fibrous and bitter to eat once they are more than 5 or 6 inches long. Only the young white roots are edible. Flower buds and flowers are said to be edible at all stages. They can be fried tempura, stir fried, or  eaten raw. However, a word of caution: the plant is said to be a great laxative, so it might be a good idea not to overindulge, particularily at first. They are also said to be a mild pain killer, has lots of antioxidants, Vitamin A, and iron, as well as 9% protein and 60% carbohydrate. Also, as far as eating, the information I found on being edible applies only to the old original day lilies. There has been a lot of selection and breeding done with these lilies (there are about 60,000 different ones) and  not all of these may be safe to eat.
 I have several clumps growing in my yard, which is an old homesite. After they finish their bloom, I just keep them mowed the rest of the summer, knowing they will return next year in all their orange abandon.

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