The Suitcase Lady


July 14, 2020, 5:26 pm

At this moment, big, orange daylilies are the reigning flowers of our roadsides, fields and yards. At our house, they’re looking in the windows, marching around our mailbox and waving in the meadow. Even though each individual flower only blooms for one day, a daylily stem makes multiple buds that bloom sequentially. Our happy orange explosion will last for several weeks.

Since daylilies are prolific from the Atlantic to the Pacific, many people assume that they are native wildflowers. Not so: these hardy flowers are from China and Eastern Asia where their buds have been roasted and eaten for many centuries.

Daylilies are world travelers, being brought to Europe by traders in the 16th century. These easy to grow, mostly beloved plants spread through Europe from the 1500s to the 1800s. The Dutch, who are known for cultivating hybrid blooms, derisively called them “ditch lilies”.

When the Colonists came to America, their daylilies often came with them. The plants were welcome additions to colonial gardens for their low maintenance and cold weather hardiness. The lilies thrived and multiplied. Many westward pioneers further helped the spread by taking clumps of lilies with them in the backs of their wagons.

One important fact about daylilies must be noted: they are not a member of the lily family (Lilaceae). Daylilies (Asphodelaceae) are more closely related to asparagus than to tiger or Easter lilies.

Here are the differences between daylilies and true lilies:

  • Daylilies grow from roots; true lilies from bulbs.
  • Daylily flowers last one day; true lily flowers last many days.
  • Daylilies grow atop a leafless stalk; true lilies atop a stalk with many leaves.
  • Daylilies have edible parts; many true lilies are toxic, some extremely so.

In summation, feast your eyes on the daylilies’ beauty, but do not eat your Easter lily.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Joan warren

    I long for the day iRon and I can once again feel the energy of your wonderful abode and all its inhabitants. Love, Joannie