Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

Propagation of non-native Selenicereus Antonyanus from Warwick RI
March 24, 2012 - I just purchased a Selenicereus Anthonyanus, Rick Rack Cactus unrooted. I have searched on the web of the proper way to root the plant and have had no luck except it says easy rooting but not how to r...
view the full question and answer

Identification of non-native Grape Hyacinth
April 13, 2013 - Mr Smarty Plants, can you tell me please, what is the name of the flower in the attached link? I see numerous references to it as blue bells or bluebells, but when I check the USDA Plants database, no...
view the full question and answer

Source for non-native, invasive Winter Honeysuckle from Austin
April 24, 2013 - Seeing Lonicera abiflora today reminds me of the "winter honeysuckle" my grandfather grew in San Antonio from 1920s or so through the 1950's. It was a bush with stiff upright stems and bloomed cre...
view the full question and answer

Non-native red-tip photinias dying in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - A 17 year old Red tip Photinia in a hedge shows signs of dying. The main stalks are quite large and offshoots from two of the stalks have brittle, drooping leaves. The center of the plant looks norm...
view the full question and answer

Potted non-native mimosas in the U.S.
July 12, 2009 - We need I hope there is someone who could tell me where I could find potted mimosa plants in the US.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.