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
4 ratings

Friday - July 07, 2006

From: Phoenixville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Edibility of native and non-native wild onions
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'd like to know if the seeds of the wild onions found in southeastern Pennsylvania (possibly called Allium ascalonicum) are edible at all- these are the seeds that grow on top of the stalk, after a wonderful purple flower has dropped off in July. thanks!

ANSWER:

There are several species of wild onions that grow in Pennsylvania—some native, some not native. You may, perhaps, have seen Allium ascalonicum, a non-native, introduced species. However, it is possible that the one you encountered is a widespread, common native Allium canadense. 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.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Getting Rid of Firecracker Flower
July 16, 2015 - We live in the Tampa area of Florida. We planted Russelia equisetiformis under some palm trees 10 years ago. It has grown deep among the palm tree roots. We want to kill the Russelia without harming ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Banana Shrub from Houston
May 01, 2014 - My 7' beloved Banana Shrub (magnolia) has white dots on top of the leaves and nasty black stuff covering the backside of the leaves. The plant is dropping leaves. What can I do to save it? I has bee...
view the full question and answer

Trimming non-native sago from Fresno CA
September 10, 2012 - I have a sago plant, fronds are hanging over into street, can the fronds themselves be trimmed back without removing the whole frond?
view the full question and answer

Sad Germanders in Johnson City Texas
September 16, 2011 - I have some grey bush germanders that never seem to do well although they did at first when I planted them four years ago. They have sun and dappled shade on the south side of the house. A friend in ...
view the full question and answer

Sweet cherry tree for New Mexico
January 23, 2013 - What is the best kind of sweet cherry tree to plant in Santa Fe, NM? I have apple, apricot, peach and pear. Would like cherry unless it is a bad idea.
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center