The Tiger Lily is a beautiful native plant that blooms profusely during late June in the native forests of the southern BC coastal Region. This lily has a huge range, being found in open areas from Quebec to southern British Columbia and southward. It’s quite beautiful to observe in the wild.
The deep orange or red flowers of this perennial are up to 7.5 cm wide with black spots on the bases of the petals and sepals. The narrow leaves are about two inches long. Stems may be up to 60 cm tall from white underground bulbs. In our area, the Tiger Lily is found in moist, low lying bog areas. The bulbs of this plant were boiled and eaten like potatoes by the First Peoples. The lily family also includes the edible onion, garlic, and asparagus, but also contains poisonous plants such as Death Camas and Hellebore.
The Tiger lily is often grown in the flower garden but in the Orient, it is cultivated for its edible bulb. In fact, when grown as a root crop the Chinese actually pick off the flower buds to stimulate the production of larger bulbs. All other members of this genus also produce edible bulbs, though these can often have a bitter flavor. When baked, Tiger Lily bulbs taste rather like potatoes.
The plant is easily propagated by means of bulbils that form in the leaf axils. Simply pot these up in the summer when they part easily from the plant and then plant them out in the spring 18 months later. Allow some of the bulbils to fall to the ground each fall, this will allow the plant to maintain itself without your help.