Tiger Lily Hemerocallis fulva
by Jenn Stumer
The Tiger Lily… Famous for appearing along roadsides from coast to coast, this common wildflower is known by a host of different names in different parts of the world. Some may know it as Tawny Daylily or Roadside Lily, Ditch Lily or Railroad Lily.
This common orange daylily was introduced into the United States in the late 19th century as an ornamental perennial. This is the one found in every grandmother’s garden and the one seen blooming right now along roadsides from coast to coast. It is the number one daylily to naturalize. Once established, it multiplies and spreads to form dense patches that overwhelm all weeds. It requires no care and is tolerant of any soil (although it really LOVES moist and wet soils which is why it grows so well in roadside ditches. It loves shade but will also flourish in sun as well.
Once quite popular with homeowners and landscapers for the large, showy flowers, hardiness and the ability to spread, nowadays, the Tiger Lily has fallen a bit to the wayside in landscape designs simply because it can be an aggressive spreader. Some even consider it invasive. Taking their place is the new hybrid Daylilies that vary in height, color and length of blooming period.
Where does the Tiger Lily get its Name?
The Tiger Lily gets its “Lily” name from the similarity of the flower to other lilies. True lilies carry the genus name “Lilium.” Some major differences are: Daylilies grow from tuberous roots and Lilies grow from bulbs. Daylily flowers last only one day and Lily flowers can last up to a week. The foliage differs as well with Daylilies having long, flat blades that grow in clumps. The Lily has one, single unbranched stem from the bulb. There is actually a true Lily bearing the name “Tiger Lily” that has large orange flowers covered in spots.
The Tiger Lily can grow up to four feet tall and produce numerous 4-5” flowers on their stems. The tiger lily flower only lasts one day and is actually edible. Dried or fresh flowers are used in Asian cooking and are known as “golden needles.” The shoots and roots are also edible and when baked, lily roots are said to taste like potatoes! Oh and did I mention they attract butterflies and hummingbirds???