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Cultures around the far northern Pacific rim enjoy the lily root, sarana. Supposedly its slight bitterness is satisfying in both sweet and savory preparations. My information is not complete, but in the linked article, no one grows it on purpose -- it's always foraged. Is there any reason why sarana would not be a good crop to grow in a vegetable garden?

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Assuming, we stick with Lilium medeoloides as the species in question, yes it is "readily grown" according to one supplier and suppliers do exist (in the UK at least). The difficulty I could see is that like many bulbs, it takes a lot longer to develop bulbs than cultivated bulbs such as Allium cepa. This would make unsuitable for cultivation within an annual vegetable garden. However, it might be suitable for growth in an edible woodland setting, although perhaps more for its decorative merits than as a source of food. It has to be remembered that crops foraged wild, particularly bulbs, could have spent decades becoming established.


Edit: some of the answers have mentioned Fritillaria camschatcensis, the linked source in the question gives a thorough treatment of the identity of 'sarana' from which I derived the Lilium species above. The answer holds true for either species: both are slow growing, shade loving plants which is in contrast to the light requirement and fast turnover that occurs in the traditional vegetable garden. I cannot comment personally on the edibility of either, but Fritillaria bulbs are noticeably pungent on handling.

  • Great stuff -- this answers my question. I would still like to know how long it actually takes F camschatcensis to reach maturity. – Aaron Brick Apr 10 '17 at 16:22
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Gardeners are very utilitarian people. We like to see a good return for the effort expended, and we look after our needs before our wants. The staples such as beans and potatoes and corn produce well for moderate effort. Other crops such as asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke produce special benefits but require more effort in comparison to the benefit gained, so we often give them a special place in the garden where they can be a nuisance amongst themselves and not our regular crops. Anybody still growing horse radish?

My Hortus Third identifies Kamchatka Lily as Fritillaria camschatcensis, and this could imply a lot.

Personally I think the fritillaries are somewhat overpoweringly negatively aromatic. Like horse radish, it is nice if someone else grows and prepares it so that I am spared the tears and anguish of preparation. Would a supermarket be keen to have such bulbs on the shelves, I wonder? Great in jars, I am sure.

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I agree that Kamchatka lily is Fritillaria camschatcensis - assuming that's the plant you mean, it requires acid, humus rich soil that is well drained but never dries out, and relatively shady conditions. These are not conditions which most vegetables appreciate, so its not a likely candidate for inclusion in the average vegetable plot.

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