Magical Daylily Recipe

by Cait Johnson

It’s the season for daylilies, those exuberant orange trumpets waving to us from roadsides as we drive past, or tangling in blowsy abandon in our yards. Many people don’t know that each blossom only lives for one day (hence the name), but this gives the flower a special poignant beauty.

Years ago, I began the daily practice in daylily season of gathering one blossom shortly after dawn, when it was only barely beginning to open, and placing it in water on my altar. All day I watch the gradual unfurling–until dusk, when it curls in upon itself and fades. What a gentle reminder to appreciate momentary beauty while it lasts!

Even if you don’t have a cluster of daylilies in your yard, you can enter into the spirit of this meditation by finding a photograph or painting of this sunrise/sunset flower and putting it where you will see it often, a memento of the sunny summer days–and of their brevity.

As if the daylily’s cheerful beauty weren’t enough of a feast, did you know you can eat the unopened buds, treating them as you would asparagus or green beans?

Here’s a great couldn’t-be-simpler recipe to celebrate the brief beauty of the daylily, to enjoy on these days that are still longer than the nights.

Daylily Bud Saute

One handful of unopened, unsprayed daylily buds per serving

1 or 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt or tamari, to taste
Crushed garlic and/or chopped onion, if desired
Red pepper flakes, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the daylily buds and other ingredients, and saute until tender.

Serve warm.

Adapted from my magical seasonal cookbook, Witch in the Kitchen (Inner Traditions, 2001).