Edible Canna Lilies

I was surprised to find out that one of my favorite landscaping plants was actually edible. Canna lilies are native to South America but have been hybridized and are found in household gardens around the world. I like canna lilies for a number of reasons. They give a tropical atmosphere to your garden with broad leaves and colorful blossoms and come in a variety of colors. They are a perennial plant so that in our region they die back in the cold season and grow back in the Spring. And now I have more reasons to like them because I can use some portions to cook with and other portions to eat.

The prominent edible part of the canna lilie is the root which is a rhizome that is similar to cattail roots that contain starch. And, like cattail roots, they can be mashed into a pulp to remove the fiber to collect the starch for drying and later ground into a flour. They can be eaten raw but you can treat them like potatoes and bake or boil them too.

The leaves are broad and rather large and can be used like banana leaves to wrap foods for steaming or pit cooking. The young shoots of canna lilies are eaten as a vegetable , however, the blossoms are said to be not edible. The fiber of the stalks have been used as a jute substitute for cordage.

Although these plants may not be indigenous to your area, it’s good to know that they are a readily available edible landscape plant that can be a reserve food source in an emergency situation.

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5 thoughts on “Edible Canna Lilies

  1. I have studied foraging for decades, and I love the idea of incorporating wild edible flowers and plants into my diet. I have been looking at domesticated plants and flowers as edibles for a while now, but I’m a little more careful about them because of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms).

    ALL plants and flowers are now subject to being genetically modified. We are all becoming more aware of Monsanto, their goal to corner the seed market, and their efforts to genetically modify ALL seeds for copywrite purposes. GMO fruits and vegetables, as well as processed food products that incorporate GMO foods, have recently been linked to cancer, and apparently are contributing to a variety of other illnesses and ailments.

    Any “hybrid” plant comes from genetically modified seeds. ALL other seeds and plants are at risk of having been in the hands of Monsanto. Not all GMO products are labeled as such. Monsanto fights labeling. So it’s important to ask your grower if the seeds or plants you are purchasing are GMO if it concerns you, but especially if you plan on eating them.

    I love canna lilies. I planted some for my mother a few years ago. I’ll look into their edible qualities with pleasure!

  2. I have fed my cows this plant,i must say they love it…however i have not tried eating it. I hope i will have some courage to do so in the future. thanks for the good info

  3. Are all Canna lilies edible. For e.g. ones purchased at local garden centre with large dark red leaves and red flowers?

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