Uses of the Lily Flower

Written by melissa sherrard
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Uses of the Lily Flower
Lilies offer more than just fragrance and beauty (Lily/ image by Aleksander Reshetnik from

Stylish and elegant, lilies of all shapes, sizes and shades have been used for a wide variety of purposes throughout the course of history. Rich with symbolism across almost every culture, the lily is best known for representing purity, utility and everlasting beauty while serving a multitude of purposes.

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In Cooking

Flower cookery is great way to incorporate exotic flavours, textures and introduce new edible plants into the diet. Lilies have played a major role in Asian, Middle Eastern and Western cuisine over time, particularly during the Victorian Era. Dried lily buds, referred to as "golden needles" in Asian cookery, are often yellow in colour and offer an earthy, musky taste. The sweet petals are great in desserts or as stuffing in meats and vegetables. Some people say different coloured petals have their own flavour. Stems are chewy with a sweet, mild vegetable flavour that resembles that of asparagus, zucchini or lettuce. Slices of the pulpy, sugary sweet lily bulb are abundantly used in Asian recipes, particularly by the Japanese.

Some lilies contain harmful alkaloids, so double-check their edibility when putting these flowers on the menu.
Some lilies contain harmful alkaloids, so double-check their edibility when putting these flowers on the menu. (yellow lily in glass image by Trevor Goodwin from

As Medicine

Lilies are said to have been used medicinally throughout Asia for more than 2,000 years, and their usefulness has not gone unnoticed by other cultures. When consumed, dried day lilies are reported to act as an effective diuretic or laxative, and the flowers and roots of most lilies have been used to treat spider bites.

Wood lily roots are a source of medicinal teas that early natives used to treat stomach disorders, coughs, tuberculosis, fevers and childbirth pains. When cooked down further, these teas can be used to wash swollen bruises, open wounds and sores to speed healing and help deter infection.

Dried or fresh bulbs, which can be collected in August, are extremely useful and said to have both soothing and astringent properties. They can be boiled to treat visible inflammations and ulcers, while fresh bulbs can be bruised and applied to hard tumours to soften them more quickly. When made into an ointment, lily bulbs are a cure for corns and burns and are said to effective in preventing scarring. Juice from fresh bulbs are also said to be an excellent cure for dropsy. As always, consult a physician before using any natural supplement for medicinal purposes as there is no scientific evidence to validate these claims.

Uses of the Lily Flower
Fresh lily blooms, particularly white ones, can be steeped to create a healing lotion for bruises. (white lily closeup image by Jeffrey Banke from

Show Love and Respect

The beautiful blooms of lilies hold a rich history of meanings and symbolism. Offering a bouquet of lilies as a gift represents the esteem in which you hold the friendship or romantic partnership, as they stand as a testament to loyalty, unity and love. In China, lilies represent 100 years of love as well as classic, refined beauty. The flower's colour also holds strong significance when given as a gift. Pink Stargazer lilies, for example, represent hope for wealth and prosperity while white Peruvian lilies are a symbol of devotion.

Lilies of any shade are a traditional gift on 30th wedding anniversaries.
Lilies of any shade are a traditional gift on 30th wedding anniversaries. (woman with madonna lily image by Valentin Mosichev from

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