On my way north from Vienna to Oslo, I found myself unexpectedly with a 4 hour wait in Gothenburg in Sweden, and there was no hesitation to visit one of the great botanical gardens. I had no idea what there would be to see in January but with the mild winter I was surprised how much there was to see. Here are a collection of wierd and wonderful edibles in the unique bulb house!
According to wikipedia, asiatic hybrids include “hybrids of many Asiatic species and their interspecific hybrids, including Lilium brownii, Lilium henryi, Lilium leucanthum, Lilium regale, Lilium rosthornii, Lilium sargentiae and Lilium sulphureum. The flowers are trumpet shaped, facing outward or somewhat downward, and tend to be strongly fragrant, often especially night-fragrant.” Of these, both L. brownii and L. henryi are used for food.
On the other hand oriental hybrids “are based on hybrids within Lilium section Archelirion,specifically Lilium auratum and Lilium speciosum, together with crossbreeds from several species native to Japan, including Lilium nobilissimum, Lilium rubellum, Lilium alexandrae, and Lilium japonicum. They are fragrant, and the flowers tend to be outward facing. Plants tend to be tall, and the flowers may be quite large. The whole group are sometimes referred to as “stargazers” because many of them appear to look upwards”
I’ve never tasted hybrid lilies, but maybe I should as two of the asiatics and all the 6 oriental species involved are eaten in Japan…most importantly L. auratum which is cultivated for markets on a field scale, the others mainly foraged I think! I wonder if anyone has hybridised lilies for food rather than beauty….an interesting project for someone perhaps?
Lily = bulbs of Lilium martagon (Martagon lily), an important forest garden source of carbohydrate, liking the shady conditions of deciduous woodlands
Chufa – the delicious tubers of the grass Cyperus esculentus
This deviant martagon lily (Lilium martagon) turned up in my garden in 2014. Martagon lily have one of the best tasting lily bulbs, and is a good edible for the forest garden as they are shade tolerant :)