Daily Dilemma: To Eat or Not To Eat

Photo by Briana Massie (just a little shameless advertising for a good friend and fantastic photographer)


  • how sweet
  • how delicate
  • but yet, still capable of making it through harsh Minnesota winters relatively unharmed
  • daylilies belong the the genus Hemerocallis
  • if we translate this name from Greek
  • we get ‘hemera’ meaning day
  • and ‘kallos’ meaning beauty
  • which makes sense
  • seeing as each flower lasts only one day
  • it opens in the morning and withers by nightfall
  • daylilies are native to China, Korea, and Japan
  • but they’re planted by humans all over the world because of their hardiness
Photo by Victor Hamberlin
  • they were first mentioned in European writings in the 1500s
  • and were first introduced to North America in the 1600s
  • they’ve been used as a food source in Asia for thousands of years
  • employed in making various soups and jellies
  • Hemerocallis fulva was the first daylily species in North America and remained the only one for about 200 years
  • then horticulturalists got in the game
  • and poof
  • we have 60,000 cultivars
  • the original H. fulva is edible
  • every single part of the plant is edible, in fact
  • but it is in question which parts of which cultivars are edible

Within one genus of plants there can be both edible and poisonous organisms. The original North American daylily is safe to eat, but as far as the others go, probably refrain from testing your luck. Plants are chemical producing machines and with 60,000 cultivars floating around out there, we have yet to fully understand which ones are safe and which ones are fatal.

Sometimes it’s good to be a picky eater.

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