Vanilla Lily (aka. Pale Vanilla Lily) gets its name from its beautiful vanilla scented flowers. It grows from edible tuberous roots, which have traditionally been eaten raw or roasted. It’s native to Australia and can be found in forests and grasslands, ranging from Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania.
The edible tubers are slightly sweet and best eaten when young, as they become bitter as they age. Crunch on young tubers straight out of the ground to enjoy their fresh and pleasant flavour, or lightly roast them with a little salt and oil. Each plant produces several tubers up to 3.5cm long approximately 15cm below the surface. The flowers are also edible, and may be used as an aromatic garnish for salads and cakes.
As the weather starts to warm up from September to December, Vanilla Lily proudly shows off its fragrant flowers (coloured white, pale pink, or mauve) just before dying back. The tubers can be harvested any time once the plant is mature, but we recommend waiting until the growing season ends in late Spring — this gives plenty of time to enjoy the fragrant flowers throughout the cool and warming months. Just uproot the entire plant to get at the tubers. If left unharvested, the plant will go briefly dormant over late Summer and reshoot the following Autumn.
This species is an attractive low maintenance perennial often grouped in mass numbers for best effect. It tolerates sandy soil, drought, frost and shade, and is often known to grow in clay. But for best results, we recommend a loamy soil conditioner in dappled sunlight with plenty of water during the Autumn months.
Vanilla Lily is suitable for ornamental mass plantings, as well as adding quaint pops of colour to rockeries and paved spaces. Despite its tuberous below-ground parts, this plant can thrive in medium-sized pots in balcony gardens.
Can I eat the Vanilla Lily fruit?
No. So far, we haven’t found a source confirming the Vanilla Lily fruit is safe to eat.
Can I grow a Vanilla Lily indoors?
It’s possible, but remember that a plant living in a pot will depend entirely on you for its growth. If you intend to harvest the roots for food, be sure to choose at least a medium-sized pot with enough room for the tubers to grow. Choose a sunny spot near a window, and be careful not to overwater when the plant is dormant.
What pests and diseases is Vanilla Lily susceptible to?
No known pests and diseases.