- Current Stock:
- Other Names:
- Panther Lily, Washington Lily
- Latin Name:
- Lilium Pardalinum
The Leopard Lily is a rare and beautiful Northwest wildflower with an edible, perennial bulb.
In Springtime, bunches of spotted yellow-red flowers hang gracefully atop whorls of lance-shaped leaves. Very similar in appearance to the Tiger Lily, but with more red hues. Cooked bulbs have a smooth creamy texture and sweet and mild taste. These bulbs are slightly smaller than Tiger Lily, but unlike Tiger Lily, seems to be without bitterness.
Lily bulbs have been used medicinally/nutritionally in many cultures for thousands of years. They contain a variety of substances that can promote health and well-being. In addition to proteins and carbohydrates, lily bulbs have small amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins B1, B2 and C.
The ornamental value of these brightly-colored, delicate wildflowers is undeniable to anyone who is lucky enough to find the Leopard Lily flowering in the late Spring/early Summer. Mature bulbs send up bunches of flowers on a large stalk with beautiful whorls of lance-shaped leaves. Flowers hang downward in a delicate fashion, petals peeling back slowly to reveal orange pollen-coated stamens visited by native pollinators. It can add height and color to herbaceous borders above smaller plants.
This ephemeral Spring beauty is a sight to behold.
Environment and Culture
Native to the West Coast, Leopard Lily’s wild home is in wet mountain meadows and cool coastal forests, and at the edges of rivers and streams. Indigenous people have traditionally harvested this bulb for thousands of years. However, the Leopard Lily’s population is declining and should never be harvested from the wild.
These lilies are slow-growing, long living, and very easy to care for. They die back every Summer, during which period they should be kept unwatered, if possible. They emerge from a rhizomatous stock of bulblets the following Spring. However, not just humans like the taste of this wildflower bulb, so if you have gophers or mice, it is best to protect your bulb with hardware cloth or grow it in a container. Protect early Spring shoots from slugs.
Harvest, Care, and Preparation
Leopard Lily can be allowed to spread and multiply before harvesting (they produce up to 5 new bulblets every year!). Seed can even be collected and reseeded next to the mother plant. When ready to harvest, in late Summer, use the dead flower stalk locate the edible bulbs underneath. Take some, leave some. If there are few, then consider removing an outside bulb scale and replanting it in the same hole at a shallower depth (to grow another for the following year).
(The bulb pushes itself deeper as it grows, and can be up to 6 inches down when fully mature. Wet the ground before digging to make the soil softer and easier to turn. Give ample space around the bulb to ensure that it or its bulblets are not severed.)
To prepare, slice the roots from the bulb (as you would a green onion) and boil the bulb for 15-20 minutes (until soft but still firm), Then, they can be eaten whole, mashed, or sliced and pan-fried. We recommend carefully chopping in half vertically to keep the bulb scales attached to the base, and pan-frying with oil/salt. Cooked bulbs have a smooth creamy texture and sweet and mild taste. Enjoy this small, but tasty, native treat!
- Native Range: OR, CA
- USDA zones: 6-10
- Ease of Care: Very Easy
- Deer Resistance: Moderate
- Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part Shade
- Soil Type: Any, prefers well-drained
- Water Requirements: Moist-Wet, dry in Summer
- Pollination: Self-Fertile
- Bearing Age: 3-5 years to full maturity from seed
- Size at Maturity: 6 feet, up to 8
- Bloom Time: Late Spring
- Harvest Time: Early Fall