En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - June 06, 2007

From: Bridgman, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Wild onions in southwest Michigan
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

During the spring every year there are "Volunteer Onions" that grow in my lawn and garden. I live in Michigan, sw. question---are these onions? what are they--they smell like onions--- can they be eaten?

ANSWER:

There are several species of wild onions that grow in southwest Michigan—some native, some not native. However, it is possible that the one you encountered is a widespread, common native Allium canadense or another common native, Allium cernuum. A noxious weed species in Michigan is the European native, Allium vineale. You can eat all of the parts—the bulbs, the leaves and the bulblets (the small bulbs that form on the flowers on top of the plant) of all of the species of Allium (the onions, garlics, shallots, leeks, and chives). Be sure that when picking any part of the plant that you detect a distinct onion/garlic smell. There are other plants in the Family Liliaceae (Lily Family) that look like wild onions or garlic, but whose bulbs are poisonous. Those in the Genus Allium will have the typical onion/garlic smell and will be safe to eat. You should be aware, however, members of the Allium spp. can cause gastric distress if eaten in large quantities. Euell Gibbons in Stalking the Wild Asparagus has a chapter dedicated to finding and using "The Wild Onion Family." The book is probably available at your local library.

 

From the Image Gallery


Meadow garlic
Allium canadense

Nodding onion
Allium cernuum

More Edible Plants Questions

How to care for blueberries in Oregon
July 11, 2008 - New to oregon and to blueberry bushes - can you tell me the proper way to care for them - location-sandy, Oregon and unsure of which type of blueberry they are thank you
view the full question and answer

Is cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) edible?
December 21, 2012 - I found a post here about cenizo leaves being used for tea, but I'm wondering if the leaves of the cenizo are edible? I have found many recipes for 'brown butter sage' leaves (sauteed often with on...
view the full question and answer

Is Texas Thistle edible from Austin
May 26, 2010 - Is Texas Thistle an edible plant?
view the full question and answer

Texas native peach from Elmendorf TX
January 30, 2013 - Does Texas have a native peach tree that grows wild?
view the full question and answer

Getting blueberries to grow in Atascosa County, Texas
January 20, 2010 - I'm trying to get blueberries started in my garden. I mulch constantly and have tons of success with almost every thing. But last year my blueberries were new plants and after harvesting a few berrie...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center