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orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)




















orange daylily
tawny daylily
tiger daylily
ditch daylily


Hemerocallis fulva (L.) L. var. fulva
Hemerocallis fulva
(L.) L. var. kwanso Regel
Hemerocallis fulva (L.) L. var. rosea Stout


CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.


TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for organge day-

lily is Hemerocallis fulva (L.) L. Unfortunately there appears to be some

confusion in properly identifying the rhizomatous Hemerocallis fulva

species and setting it apart from the non-invasive, clump forming hybrid

daylily cultivars which there are over 40,000. To lessen the confusion, the American Hemerocallis Society encourages distiguishing between the

Hemerocallis fulva species and hybrid daylily cultivars which are excel-

lent garden plants.


NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.




Habit: This introduced perennial plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves

and flowering stalks about 3-6' tall. From the center of the rosette, there

develops one or more stout flowering stalks that are held erect and are

usually much taller than the leaves. Each stalk is round, hairless and large-

ly naked, except for a few green leaf-like bracts along its length. It is large-

ly unbranched, except near the apex, where there is panicle consisting of

a few small, upward-facing clusters of flowers.


Leaves: The basal leaves are linear with parallel venation and hair- less,

tapering gradually to a sword-like point. They have a tendency to bend

down and outward around the middle, and are somewhat floppy in appear-

ance. The leaves are arranged in pairs and grow only at the base of the

plant. The leaves are 1 to 3 feet long, narrow, smooth with a central
running lengthwise down the back of the leaf.


Flowers: The flowers are orange and quite large, spanning individually

about 3½" across, are funnel-shaped and unspotted (making orange day-

lily distinctive from true lilies which have spotted blossoms). They are

held semi-erect or horizontally on the their stalks, rather than hanging

downward. Each flower consists of 6 orange tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals

that are similar in appearance) that are united at the base, but spread out-

ward and backward toward their tips. The 3 inner tepals are somewhat

broader than the 3 outer tepals. The margins of each tepal are rolled. The

throat of the flower is yellow, around which there is a band of red, while

the remainder of the flower is some shade of orange. Exerted from its cen-

ter, there are 6 long stamens and a single style. The buds of the flowers

are green to greenish orange, oblong, and up to 3" long. Each flower opens

for only one day and do not have a fragrance.


Fruit/Seeds: The seed capsules, if any are produced, are 3-celled capsules
and contain rows of black seeds. However, these seeds are infertile because
the orange day lily is a sterile hybrid.


Roots: The root system consists of fleshy fibrous, fleshy, tuberous, spindle-

shaped roots and rhizomes, with thinner, fibrous roots growing from both

to form a dense system.This plant often forms vegetative clumps of plants

that exclude other species.


REGENERATION PROCESS: Orange daylily propogates itself by veg-

etative spread through rhizomes. As noted above in the general botanical

description, the seed capasules are infertile.


HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include thickets and woodland borders,
neglected meadows, abandoned homesteads and old fields, stream banks,
areas along roadsides and railroads, and waste areas formerly cultivated.
The orange daylily usually occurs at disturbed sites; however, it can also
invade natural areas and become a nuisance (this is prevalent in the north-
eastern United States). The National Park Service lists orange daylily as an
invasive species, posing a threat to native plants in field, meadows, flood-
plains, moist woods and forest edges. Once established, daylily multiplies
and spreads to form dense patches that displace native plants. The thick
tubers make it a challenge to control and the waxy coating of the leaves
resists penetration by herbicides, making control of this plant more diffi-

cult. It is possible to dig plants out of the ground with a shovel, but any

roots that are left in the ground can regenerate new plants.


SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Orange daylily prefers full or partial sun,
fertile loamy to gravelly soil, but will easily grow in a variety average,
medium, well-drained soils (it can tolerant poor soils).


SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs during mid-
summer and lasts about a month. Each flower lasts only a single day, hence
the common name.


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Orange daylily has been introduced to the
entire eastern part of the United States and extends west through the Ohio
Valley, upper mid-West, northern Plains states into the far northwester
states. It has yet to be recorded in the wild from the far southwestern
states or California and Nevada (although it may occur as an ornamental
in all states). In Canada is restricted to the all the eastern provinces,
excluding Newfoundland.


Orange daylily is a hybrid member of a genus native to the temperate re-

gions of Asia. Legend indicates that it was brought to North America by
sea captains, who presented the flowers to their wives after traveling the
Orient. Following its introduction, tawny daylily was widely cultivated in
North American gardens, and escaped plants may now be found scattered
throughout temperate regions of the continent.




IMPORTANCE AND USES: In North America, the flowers are success-
fully pollinated by neither insects nor hummingbirds. Some small bees or
flower flies may collect or feed on the pollen from the anthers. Rabbits and
white-tailed deer crop the young tender leaves during the spring when little
else is available. The waxy mature foliage is less palatable and usually left
alone by wildlife.


All parts of the daylily are edible, and plants have been cultivated for thou-
sands of years in Asia for food. The buds or new flowers are regularly cook-

ed and eaten in China and Japan. In addition, the rhizomes can be chopped

and cooked like potatoes, and are said to be as sweet as sweet corn. The

tuberous roots have a nutlike flavor, and can be eaten raw or roasted. Young

shoots have been prepared like asparagus, but consumption should be avoid-

ed;the consumption of large quantities of young shoots can be hallucinogen-

ic and should be avoided.



Back to Inventory of Herb/Forb Families and Species

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