The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center State Park graces the grounds with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants.
Summer heat is building and fiery-flowered tiger lilies are opening their faces to the earth. The most common varieties sport clusters of two-inch blossoms that are bright orange with black spots. The petals curve backwards, towards the sun, from the downward-facing flowers. Black bulblets form in the leaf axis and drop to the ground after the plants flower. This is how Asian lilies reproduce. The plants grow to between three-and four-feet tall and are true lilies (Lilium spp.).
Tiger lilies, also called ditch lilies, are pass-along plants. They are not fussy about soil types and moisture, though they will stand erect in full sun and lean towards the sun if grown in dappled shade. They prefer to have cool, shady roots and full sun on their tops. Young plants are easily moved to the back of a sunny border in the spring. Even full grown tiger lilies can be moved when in flower, to other locations as long as the roots are intact and the tops are staked.
The bulbs are edible when cooked. The buds and petals are eaten, however, the pollen is said to cause nausea, purging and sleepiness. The plants have also been used in medicine. All parts of the plant are toxic to cats and can cause renal failure. My cats have not been adversely affected by the lilies in my yard.
Enjoy your lilies and other glorious summer flowers. If I don’t see you in the future—I’ll see you in the pasture.