The genus Lilium comprises 110 species of flowering bulbs native to temperate zones across the northern hemisphere. This genus is part of the Liliaceae family, which encompasses such root vegetables as garlic and onions. Lilies are markedly more attractive to the eye, each bulb producing a single stem with six tepals and prominent stigma, style and stamen. Apart from their aesthetic qualities, many lilies have cultural and traditional uses when their bulbs are dried. It should be noted that many species of lily are poisonous to people, as is the pollen of all lilies. Because of that, it is best not to attempt using a lily for food or medicinal purposes until you are sure the species is safe.
The tiger lily, Lilium tigrinum, has a crisp, sweet flavor when dried and rehydrated. This is necessary to remove the presence of alkaloids which could otherwise cause an allergic reaction. The texture is starchy, like a potato. Medicinally, the dried bulb is used in Korea as a diuretic, emollient, anti-inflammatory and expectorant.
Hong Kong Lily
Lilium brownii, the Hong Kong lily, has a sugary, molasseslike flavor. When powdered, it is used like cornstarch as a thickening agent to soups and sauces. When consumed or taken in tea, it is used to treat bronchial and congestive problems. It has a calming side effect which is utilized in Chinese medicine to treat nervous anxiety.
White Trout Lily
The white trout lily, Erythronium albidum, was used by Native American tribes as an acidic desiccant. The bulb would be rubbed on skin wounds, cuts and bruises, either dried or in a poultice to scour the wound of dead cells and contaminants. Though there is record of this lily being eaten, sources vary on its safety, and for that reason should not be chanced.
Madonna lily, Lilium candidum, is sweet and pulpy when dried. Deep frying firms up the texture to something akin to potatoes. Taken internally, it has a coagulant effect. When applied externally, the pulp soothes burns and promotes the healing of skin abrasions, like Aloe vera.
Common Day Lily
Hemerocallis fulva, or the common day lily, is best when fresh, but when dried the bulbs take on a fleshy texture similar to yams and can be cooked accordingly. The bulb, when boiled, can be brewed into a tea which acts as a diuretic.