What is this thing - plant edition
March 31, 2018 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I went to turn the soil in a raised bed at my new home and found a big patch of...something growing there. What is it?

I'm in Seattle. This is a big patch of this plant that isn't growing in any kind of pattern, so I'm guessing it spread. Photos and description at the link.

Basically, if this is edible I'll leave it where it is, if it's pretty I'll transplant it, and if it's toxic or invasive I'll compost it. Any ideas?
posted by centrifugal to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
 
Lilies of some kind? Doesn't look edible.
posted by The otter lady at 11:27 AM on March 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's most likely not a plant grown for eating, though it may be edible in the sense of ‘this won’t kill you if you eat a bit’.

It’s some kind of decorative bulb, maybe in the allium family (does it smell oniony?): I’d leave them this year to see how tall it grows, what color etc. Firm ID will be much easier once it blooms. If you transplant them like that, they probably won’t bloom this year.

So my advice is wait and see, and if desired move in the fall after leaves die back .
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:33 AM on March 31, 2018


I'm guessing Iris of some kind.

It might be worth planting a small stand just to see what happens (Dutch or Siberian? Color?) and whether you might want to have them in your garden.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:46 AM on March 31, 2018


Some sort of Hyacinth?
posted by Lingasol at 11:47 AM on March 31, 2018


I'm just going to guess bluebells because you said it was a volunteer in Seattle, and those are pretty prolific and invasive here. Does it have a little onion-like bulb underground? If you plant them somewhere else, put them in a location where they can't get loose and invade everything else.

You'll probably be more able to identify once it flowers.
posted by matildaben at 12:05 PM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


It isn’t ringing any bells for me. Clearly a bulb of some sort. Doesn’t look like any allium I’ve grown and if it doesn’t smell like onions, it really isn’t one. Doesn’t look like a hyacinth either. Irises, with the exception of Iris reticulata aren’t bulbs and the I reticulata is smaller, has a different shaped bulb and different foliage. Doesn’t look like Hyacinthoides. Fritillaria smells kind of awful so you’d mention that if it were a frit.



I would wait for a bloom.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:50 PM on March 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


Looks like the lilies growing in our garden.
posted by klausman at 1:00 PM on March 31, 2018


Reminds me of Alstroemeria/Peruvian Lilies. They spread easily.
posted by The Toad at 1:03 PM on March 31, 2018


I also suspect those are bluebells. They're a "weed" in my yard (a welcome weed though). I'm behind you in terms of gardening zone, otherwise I could just check my yard for some to compare. Anyway, if that's what they are, you can just proceed however you like. They're pretty easy to get rid of where you don't want them but not really worth transplanting even if you like them, because they're bound to pop up somewhere else.
posted by HotToddy at 1:26 PM on March 31, 2018


I'm leaning towards lilies too. I'm not familiar with the early growth of bluebells, and I live in the midwest, but those look an awful lot like how my lilies come up.
posted by conic at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2018


Hyacinth or Lilly. It's an ornamental bulb, whatever it is.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:47 PM on March 31, 2018


I'd guess lilies.
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 4:26 PM on March 31, 2018


I really don't think its an Iris. Unfortunately I don't have even a guess as to what it actually is
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:57 PM on March 31, 2018


You might try taking a couple in to your local garden store. Sometimes (not always!) they have someone on staff who knows these sorts of things.
posted by The otter lady at 6:50 PM on March 31, 2018


I think those are orange day lilies.
Def not edible. But what's the rush? It seems well established and happy so might be worth it to see if you like it before ripping things up!
I've always heard that you should observe a whole growing season through to fall to see what's actually there that might surprise you (in a good way). If you have any contact with the previous owners/tenants, they might be happy to explain what they planted where.
posted by rmless at 8:12 PM on March 31, 2018


I'm going to go with Scilla Siberica.

Quite lovely as far as invasive plants go. Here are some images that look kind of similar to yours, growing wherever they please.
posted by oxisos at 9:27 PM on March 31, 2018


If it's in the allium family it will smell "oniony". But having said that, it doesn't look at all like an allium to me.
posted by mannyfeefees at 12:12 PM on April 1, 2018


I think those are orange day lilies. Def not edible.

Orange day lilies are extremely edible, from tuber to tender shoots to buds and blossoms. (Actual lilies are extremely inedible.) However, these don’t look like day lilies: the leaves look a little too wide, stripy, and curled at the ends.

Pulling numbers out of my hat, I give this plant a 0% chance of being a standard vegetable, a 1% chance at best of being edible, a 98% chance of having a pretty flower, and a 70% chance of being locally invasive. Whatever it is, it will be much easier to identify (but harder to remove) after it flowers.
posted by musicinmybrain at 2:07 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Lilies, definitely. Either Asiatic or Oriental; it's hard to tell them apart at this stage.
posted by caryatid at 3:34 PM on April 6, 2018


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