En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Odor and flavor of oils in Mints as insect repellants
December 19, 2005 - I am trying to find information on "How does mint plants repel insects" It's for my grand daughter's science project. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Blossom end rot on non-native tomatoes from Newport RI
April 25, 2014 - Can epsom salt or eggshells end blossom end rot on tomatoes?
view the full question and answer

Edibility of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns
October 24, 2007 - Is the acorn of the Bur Oak edible?
view the full question and answer

Texas plants useful to early settlers
June 05, 2012 - I'm working on some interpretation for a prairie heritage trail in SE TX (near Houston). I'd like to know where I can find some good information on plant remedies which might have been used by early...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center