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

Gardening books for Austin and Central Texas
June 09, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for a book for my wife. She is a beginning gardener here in Austin. Do you know of an ideal book or two that covers vegetable gardening and gardening in general in Austin/Central Tex...
view the full question and answer

Request for wild and edible plant information for Boy Scouts from San Antonio
June 12, 2012 - We are with the Boy Scouts. Is it possible for you to email me information on the Wild and Edible plants at the Government Canyon? WE are teaching our scouts on this subject right now. We have alre...
view the full question and answer

Garden crop to plant in July in Austin
July 16, 2010 - I've just been given access to a plot at Sunshine Gardens and must plant something within 30 days. What would be a good planting crop for the middle of July that would be successful for harvesting i...
view the full question and answer

Blueberries & Raspberries for Walla Walla WA
October 17, 2011 - Which blueberry and raspbery plants grow best and suvive winter in Walla Walla Washington
view the full question and answer

Use of Ilex sp. by Seminole Indians to make black drink.
August 03, 2009 - Ilex myrtifolia: can the leaves be used as tea? Seminole indians made a black drink reputed to be made of holly leaves.
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center