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Luconghua (Hemerocallis), Chinese woodcut, 1582

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Credit: Luconghua (Hemerocallis), Chinese woodcut, 1582. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Woodcut and explanatory verse: entry on luconghua (yellow day lily -- Hemerocallis), an edible wild plant, from Ru cao bian (On the Consumption of Herbs), published 1582 (Wanli reign period of the Ming Dynasty). The text tells us that the name lucong hua is equivalent to luyuan zhi cong (deer onion). This plant grows luxuriantly in the summer It has succulent, pale green leaves and mottled light red flowers. In colour it resembles the reeds and day liilies. It is not as fragrant as the orchid. It is gathered when the wild mi plant is not available (?). The petals are removed and made into a thick soup, which is salted and mixed with vinegar before eating. For the purposes of this recipe, it should be gathered in the customary fashion. Ru cao bian is a non-medical work, recording 102 species of edible herbs. For each plant entry, there is an illustration accompanied by a verse, with notes on its use as a food.

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Image title: Lucong hua (Yellow day lily -- Hemerocallis). Pentasyllabic verse, providing the information on this plant shown under 'Description of image content'

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