Lemon Daylily
Hemerocallis citrini

This species of daylily was first introduced to the Western world in 1554, but this daylily had been recognized by the Chinese as an edible and beautiful garden plant centuries before. Today, it has many botanical names and several common names, most of which note the soft yellow coloration and strong, agreeable lemon scent of the blossoms. The color is bright and steady in the Texas sun and takes on a light silver shimmer if planted in afternoon shade. Occasionally this plant is identified as Tall Yellow Daylily, which takes note of the 36″-40″ scape size.

Lemon Lily begins blooming very early and the bloom is often open for multiple days. The blooming period can often exceed three to four weeks in the central Texas landscape in early Spring. The dark green leaves are often evergreen in the garden, but may die to the crown in the extreme heat of the summer. This daylily is self-fertile and often sprawls when given excessive water. It is classified as dry-tolerant, but requires moisture for blooming.

As a permaculture plant, only the blooms are considered edible and are prized for the lemon flavoring and color they lend to multiple dishes. The color in Yellow Rice is derived from dried Lemon Lily. “Golden Needles” are dried lemon daylilies and often used in the East in Hot and Sour Soup, Moo Shu, and stir-fry dishes. Try adding blooms to cooking vegetables such as green beans or cauliflower. The lily blossoms add a wonderful aroma and soft lemon flavor to the vegetables. Add diced or chopped buds and blooms to a garden salad for a surprising addition.

Lemon Daylily Dessert: Harvest and pat-dry 4-6 large, open Lemon Daylily Blooms. Remove the stamen and fill with a combination of fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, and small green grapes. When serving, place a tablespoon of crushed ice in the bottom of a goblet or small bowl. Insert the daylily bloom so it stands up in the ice. Fill with mixed fruit and top with a sprig of peppermint.