Dec 142011

[photo - dried lily bulb bai he chinese herb]

Chinese herb: dried lily bulb

Herb Name:Dried Lily Bulb.  百合 (bǎi hé)

(also called Bulbus Lilii, or Lilium Brownii)


  • Lily bulb is a starchy, edible root vegetable that comes from the Lilium flowering plant family.  It is used fresh as a vegetable in Chinese stir-frys or dried as a herbal remedy in Chinese medicine.
  • Fresh lily bulb is white in color.  It has fleshy smooth petal-like layers that make up a bulb about the size of a whole garlic.
  • When dried, lily bulb turns a little yellowish like the ones in the photo above.
  • Fresh lily bulb has a light sweet taste and a crispy texture similar to that of the green sugar peas or the lotus root.
  • Lily bulb is typically gathered in the autumn, cleaned, then sun dried.

Lily Bulb Health Benefits and Uses:

  • Lily bulb provides protein and starch.  Additionally, they contain small amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins B1, B2 and C.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, lily bulb is considered sweet and cooling in properties.  The herb is also associated to the lung and heart meridians and help to relieve coughs, dry throats, clear heat, and moisten the lung.  Dried lily bulb is also used as an herb to calm the spirit, promote restful sleep, and lessen irritability.
  • Fresh and dried lily bulb can be used in both sweet dessert soups and savory soups in Chinese cooking.
  • See a list of my soup recipes using lily bulb.


  • To prepare fresh lily bulb, peel and wash the layers thoroughly in cold water before cooking.  Since the bulb grows in mud, sand and muddy debris can be trapped in between the layers.
  • Dried lily bulb do not need much preparation.  They are simply rinsed and used in cooking.
  • If making soups with dried lily bulb, note that over cooking will cause the dried petals to disintegrate, causing your soup a little cloudy or chalky.  Follow your recipe for appropriate cook time.

Where to Buy Lily Bulb:

  • Dried lily bulb can be found in many Chinese herbal stores and some Asian supermarkets.
  • Fresh lily bulbs are typically found in Asian supermarkets only in the produce section.

Side Effects and Precautions:

  • As with all herbs, use in moderation and consult with a physician first.
  • According to traditional Chinese herbology, those with wind-cold or diarrehea should avoid using lily bulb.

How do you use your Lily Bulb? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.

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Disclaimer: Content on this site is for informational purposes only, not medical advice. Do not use site content in place of a medical doctor.

Further reading: Sacred Lotus Arts, Naturopathy Digest


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  4 Responses to “Herb: Dried Lily Bulb”

  1. Hmm – maybe I should recommend this to folks I know with insomnia!

  2. What a cool ingredient! I’ve never heard of it or used it. I’ll have to find some, thanks!

  3. This sounds like the perfect herb for this time of year! I’d be curious as to how it tastes in desserts–since it’s a flower, it seems like it would be well-suited for that.

  4. I usually add a small handful of lily bulbs to my Suan le tang (Hot and sour soup). What about you? BAM

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