Trout Lily (Erythronium spp.) | Edible ornamental | Root

The trout lilies are a group of plants in the genus Erythronium that produce edible bulbs.  Some of them anyway.  The varieties with the most history of human use are E. dens-canis, the dog tooth violet and the hybrid variety ‘Pagoda’.  Pagoda, an inter-species hybrid, has a particularly impressive bulb size, often reaching as much as four inches.  That’s about twice what you will get with most of the species.  This bodes well for breeding within this genus.  My current breeding population consists entirely of these two varieties, which I have found to be edible and tasty, with no ill effects whatsoever.

Some sources indicate that all Erythroniums are edible, but I have reason to doubt that and I don’t recommend indiscriminately sampling unidentified species.  In fact, I recommend that anybody trying even the well known edible varieties start slowly and keep portions small until you have some experience eating this plant.  Some species are reported to have emetic effects at high doses.  I had a particularly unpleasant reaction from eating a single bulb of E. oregonum, which cause me to vomit intermittently for more than an hour.  Others have assured me that they have eaten larger quantities of E. oregonum without illness.  People may react differently to plants in this genus.  Scary warnings aside, there is a fair record of human use of some varieties and those are likely to be safe for most people.

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