Daylilies get their name from their short lived blooms which only last about a day. (The botanical name, hemerocallis, comes from two Greek words meaning “beauty” and day”.) For this reason, they symbolize Coquetry. The flower blossoms in clusters one or two at a time, so when one flower fades another takes its place, prolonging its vase life beyond just one day.

Daylilies come in many colors, although the most common is yellow. It is drought and frost tolerant so it can thrive and many different environments.  The Daylily is native to Asia, and a few species are actually edible (unlike last week’s Lily of the Valley!).  These edible species are eaten in China in stir fry and soup (I wonder if their taste is anything akin to squash flowers - if so, get me on that bandwagon ASAP).  

An easy way to differentiate between daylilies and true lilies is by examining the foliage.  Daylilies have long, flat leaves that ground together at the ground.  They also have a tuberous root as opposed to a bulb.  Unlike the multi-leaved daylily, true lilies have one main stem sprouting from a bulb, and the leaves grow up the entirety of the stem in a spiral pattern.  

Tiger Lilies, those bright orange flowers with black spots, while sometimes thought to be a kind of daylily, are in fact, a true lily.  What you may be confusing them for is an orange daylily that is a common wildflower that grows along roads.  Unfortunately the common name for these orange daylilies is “ditch lilies”.  Poor little guys.  



 Zhao Zhiqian,  Hemerocallis,  China, 1859.

Zhao Zhiqian, Hemerocallis, China, 1859.

Mary Simmons