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In case you couldn’t deduct this yourself… I’m the poor man in this situation. :D

Actually, eating daylily buds has been something I’ve participated in for years. My dear grandma, who passed away just this year, is the one who taught my sister and I how fun it can be to forage! We also loved fresh sassafras tea that we would brew from the roots of young sassafras plants out in the woods on my parents property. I sure learned a lot from her.

You may think its strange, but if you’ve never tried this before than I implore you not to knock it! They really do taste like asparagus; although the flavor isn’t as strong. Plus, if I may be somewhat gross for the second, you get to enjoy the subtle taste of asparagus without making your pee smell weird! There, I said it… I suppose there isn’t anything you or I can do about it now.

So yes.. although its past the prime for picking now (I wish I had enough time to always post exactly when I cook!) I highly recommend you remember this for next year when you see the wild old fashioned orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) on the side of the road or in your back yard :)

(p.s. I’m a horticulturist by profession… so any comments about how horrible I am for destroying flowers will simply float by my ears like a calm summer breeze… :P)

Pan Seared Daylilies

*please see my notes below before eating any parts of a daylily

2 handfuls of green and still tight daylily buds
1 tablespoon canola oil


It’s very easy to do. First rinse the daylily buds well. Its important that they are young buds and aren’t showing much orange yet. For taste, for texture, but also to help you be assured they’re clean on the inside and not full of bugs. I’ve never had a problem with bugs though; that’s just me being cautious.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the buds to the hot oil. Leave them in the pan for about 5 minutes, or until the sides are very browned.

Essentially you’re searing or ‘pan frying’ them. I like to do it this way because it leaves the buds with a solid texture. If you were to cook them longer at a lower temperature, they would become somewhat mushy.

*Notes: Do not eat the buds of any cultivated ornamental daylilies (such as Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’ or ‘Happy Returns’). I’m only aware that the the old fashioned orange (and typically wild) daylilies are fine to eat. AKA Hemerocallis fulva. Also, please note that the only part of the daylily I’m recommending you eat is the tight green bud. I have no experience with the fully developed flower or other parts of the plant. If you venture beyond eating more than the green buds, you’re on your own :)

Have you ever eaten daylilies before? If so, do you cook them a different way? If you’ve never done this before; you should seriously think about it. And as I can vouch, its a great learning experience for kids. As a little girl I looked forward to early summer each year when Grama would cook some for me. Maybe I can even attest my love of nature to some of those early connections!

This recipe is linked to Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Delicious Dishes, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Foodie Friday, Friday Favorites, Food on Friday, Wholesome Whole Foods, Friday Foods, Fight Back Fridays, the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap, and Show Me How.

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48 Responses to How to Cook Daylilies: aka Poor Man’s Asparagus

  1. Chaya says:

    Hi, I would like to ask you a favor. Please check this out and tell me what you think. If you could find the time, I do appreciate it.

  2. Heather says:

    I’ve NEVER heard of eating day lilies, but I’ll remember it for next year. Our garden is overrun with them, and they seem to double in number each year. I think they need a little human consumption intervention!

  3. Ricki says:

    So interesting! I am most definitely NOT a horticulturist, so I know pretty much nothing about most plants. I’d be afraid I’d pick the wrong ones and poison myself! But they look so intriguing, and I fondly remember having zucchini blossoms once. . . mmm!

  4. Jenn says:

    I never knew that lillies were even edible! And they taste like asparagus – So interesting! Is this true of any day lilly? Does this mean that the flowers are edible too??

  5. @Ricki That’s okay, I learn something new about plants everyday :) And as far as I know you can’t poison yourself on any daylilies, but definitely make sure you don’t eat any of the cultivated plants! They’re genetically different.

    @Jenn Its only true (from my experience) of the wild and what they call ‘old fashioned’ daylily, or Hemerocallis fulva. My recommendation ends after the green bud, I’ve never eaten the orange flower before :)

    Thanks to all for your early comments, I’ve made a few changes in the content that hopefully will clear up any questions! (Keep asking if it doesn’t though :))

    ~Aubree Cherie

  6. LOL on the pee part of your post … yep, I said it, too! When my friends and I went to Asheville, it seems like we ate a lot of asparagus when eating out and that topic definitely came up. And, just Saturday, my sister and I were talking about how she’s introducting more veggies to her diet and likes asparagus roasted. She said she hadn’t noticed the pee factor … what? How can one not notice that? Anyway, I’ve never eaten the daylily buds before. We don’t have the old fashioned kind (and we’re past daylily season here), but next year I might stop by the side of the road or visit my MIL and get some to try. :-)

    Sassafras tea is a great thing! Sorry to hear about the loss of your dear grandmother, Aubree. It’s wonderful that she taught you to forage … you’ll always especially remember her when you enjoy such treats. I still miss my grandmother, but think of her whenver I use her dishes that she passed on to me.


  7. Deanna says:

    So cool. I love learning about wild edibles. I don’t think we have any buds left, but I’m definitely going to try this next year. I have a whole bunch of these growing on the side of my house.

    Any other great wild edibles you want to share?

  8. April Harris says:

    I had no idea day lilies were edible! What an interesting post!!

  9. amy2boys says:

    I’ve never heard of this but I’m completely fascinated! I would love to try this.

    Can you post the sassafras tea? My grandmother did that with me once or twice and I’ve love to know how she did it!

  10. Chaya says:

    Thanks for linking this to My Meatless Mondays. It is a different kind of post and it puts a new slant on eating, for me.

  11. Aubree, how funny! My Mother-In-Law has always (deep) fried up daylilies and, even though I always thought they were so yummy (of course, anything deep fried is going to be good), I thought she was the only one who did it! LOL Great post! And the pee-factor with asparagus – SO TRUE! But i do not know if it happens to everyone! My hubby and I can eat asparagus at the same time, and I will notice it right away yet he says he never notices.

  12. Kim says:

    That is so awesome! Have you ever tried grilling them? I bet that would be tasty. Thanks for opening my eyes to such a cool way to use daylilies! You rock, Aubree!!!! xoxo Kim |

  13. Jacqueline says:

    I never knew! Now are you saying that I shouldn’t eat my purple ones that I have growing in my yard? Would those be cultivated? I also have some orange or yellowish orange ones. I would like to try this if they are safe.

  14. This is really cool! Thanks for the info! I found you on the Meatless Monday’s linky and I will definitely be back! :)

  15. WOW! This is a food revelation to me — who knew!?!??

    I’m a little nervous to try this in case I pick the wrong flower… I’ll see if I can find someone around here who knows exactly which ones are ok for next year :)

  16. Melodie says:

    Wow – This is definitely new to me but I love learning new things about foraging for wild foods. I’ll add this to my list!

  17. laura says:

    I have cooked daylily buds before and LOVED them. But now I’m scared because mine are about 60 years old and I don’t know their type! Sheesh didn’t know you couldn’t eat every type of daylily. I love to forage!!

    Thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday!

  18. The roadside ditches are full of lilies right now. I enjoy the orange of the lilies with the white of the Queen Anne’s lace and the blue-purple of the chicory this time of year. Maybe a little foraging is in order as I admire these ‘weeds.’

  19. Okay, this is very new to me! I am excited to try this…and why not. If we can eat squash blossoms, and nasturtium, why not day lillies? Thank you for the enlightenment.

  20. Susan says:

    I have never heard of this!! We call the orange ones “ditch lilies”! :) You just said about the asparagus what everyone was thinking–so true! I can see that this might be really good. Thanks for an interesting and informative post!

  21. […] Z is for zucchini @frugalcrunchychristy 4. Bumbles & Light: Green Beans, mushroom and Lemon 5. Aubree Cherie (How to Cook Daylilies) 6. Chard or Kale Enchiladas (The Local […]

  22. Ann Kroeker says:

    Wow, this is so fascinating, I want to try it right now! But I think the roadside daylilies are at the end of their season here…I wonder if Northern or Canadian readers would still be able to try?

    Thanks for a totally wild (pun intended) idea!

  23. zentMRS says:

    This is so interesting! I’d never have thought of it, but why not? I’ll keep my eye out for day lilies!

  24. angie says:

    this is very interesting I never knew you could eat them

  25. Satakieli says:

    I’m always curious when it comes to cooking and eating things that aren’t usually deemed “food”. This is really interesting, I’ve never heard of eating daylilies. If they taste like asparagus then consider me already won over!

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. AngieB says:

    I have a yard full of these things and had no idea I could cook and eat them! I’m so excited!!

  27. There’s plenty “Poor Man’s Asparagus” here in Wisconsin. Heck, there are many Day Lilies outside my house and next to the trail that leads into the green woods. If I knew before, I would have tried this out years ago. You’re a revolutionary!

  28. Linda says:

    This is a new one for me. I actually thought, “I bet it doesn’t make your pee smell” before you said it. I’m not sure where I would get the daylily buds, but if I ever find any I will give this a try.

  29. Hi Aubree! I love to forage, and I also enjoy the daylilies, but I do eat them when they have bloomed just like violets in a salad. I also cook these, but use coconut oil instead of canola, which I never use. You might want to try it for the slightly sweeter flavor it imparts and the health benefits of the coconut oil! You should check out butterpoweredbikes Renderinglard blog because she puts up a ton of foraging articles! :) Alex@amoderatelife

  30. Jessica says:

    how interesting. i had no idea :)

  31. Thank you all so much for checking this out! I’m glad that this is a new fun thing for many of you; now I won’t be the only one enjoying them next season :)

    I’d be very interested to hear about all your successes too, so be sure to come back and let me know!

    ~Aubree Cherie

  32. My husband hybridizes Daylilies and once in a while, we’ll munch them in the Garden but I never heard of this before! We’ll have to give it a whirl. I just started blogging a food site: and also a site about our life in general which already has a couple entries about his hybridizing activities, if you are at all interested in daylilies…beyond eating them that is! :-) That site is

  33. P.S. Why do you say not to eat the buds of cultivated daylilies? We eat any of the flowers in my husband’s garden. I’m really curious why certain ones would not be okay to eat???

  34. @Carolyn Hi there! The reason I say not too is because I’ve heard from both sides of the camp – that its not good and that its okay. From my own experience I’ve only ever eaten Hemerocallis fulva and I’m not comfortable suggesting any others to people. Basically, if someone feels they can venture further, that’s cool – but I didn’t want to promote it here because I don’t have the experience with hybridized daylilies.

    Thanks for asking though! :) ~Aubree Cherie

  35. I have never heard of this! How crazy!
    Thanks for linking up!

  36. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve heard of eating day lilies but not the day lily buds. I seem to remember trying one of our day lilies in a salad and thinking it was pretty but didn’t really taste like much at all. Not even a hint of asparagus flavour.

    Rats. I’m going to have to wait until next summer to try your method now. Our day lilies are long finished.

  37. Pat says:

    Years ago I read that daylilies are edible — much of the plant, and specifically the bulbs. I didn’t try it then, since I was busy trying to get more of them to grow! Soon afterwards I noticed a squirrel digging up the bulbs in one of my flowerbeds and chomping away. (I was not happy!) I’ll be trying this next season with the buds.

    Nasturtium blossoms add a nice, peppery taste to a salad along with their rich color. Have you ever tried them?

  38. […] King Salmon)9. Jenn Cuisine (Summer Berry Crisp)10. Ashlie@delshadduo (Zucchini Bread Oatmeal)11. Aubree Cherie (How to Cook Daylilies)12. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship (Mexican Black Bean Burgers)13. Finding Joy in My Kitchen […]

  39. Jack says:

    Can you send the recipe for the sassafras tea ?

  40. lydia says:

    I just threw a handful of the pods into the weeds after I preened the flowers to eat. I batter and dreepfry the flowers b ut I never knew you can eat the proto flower portion! How great. Thanks!

  41. […] the Asiatic variety with leaves growing all the way up the stem – are also known as “poor man’s asparagus.” Their flowers are edible and can be dried and preserved; they add color to soups and […]

  42. Connie says:

    I have never heard of this but I love the idea! Now if I could only find some of those Day Lilies. AZ doesn’t have them growing wild. Maybe I could order some from some where?

  43. Kristin says:

    I have just been picking the flowers and eating them one petal at a time. I will have to try frying the buds. They taste just like lettuce.

  44. Richard Novick says:

    My garden is totally overrun with Hemerocallis fulva and my wife and I finally decided to sauté some buds. We ate about 3-4 oz. each and they were quite good, but both of us awoke with cramps and diarrhea during the night. Has anyone has a similar experience (there is no question, incidentally, about the species)?

    • Hi Richard – first of all, I’m sorry this is so late. I have been on a leave from blogging but am starting it back up again. About your feeling sick, I’m very sorry! I have not had this experience myself, so I am not sure if it could have been the buds that you ate. As far as I know Hemerocallis fulva is a safe species… ~Aubree

  45. Steve Vandever says:

    I’ve been eating the opened flowers of a number of various cultivars of daylily for quite a while. I haven’t tried the roots or shoots or buds (not enough plants!) but the opened flowers are special treats that await me in the garden. Feed the dogs and chickens, then grab any opened daylilies for a pre-breakfast snack. Some are so sweet and thick, they’re like candy!

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