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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identity of plant that looks like green onions
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have what looks like green onions growing in my lawn. They have small white flowers. Are they edible?

ANSWER:

There are several possibilities for this plant:

There are 3 varieties of Allium canadense (Meadow garlic) that occur in Travis County.

The other onion-like native plants occurring in Travis County are:

Allium drummondii (Drummond's onion)

All of the species of Allium occurring in Travis County are edible.  Here is an article, Wild Onion, from Texas Beyond History that gives the historical uses by native peoples in Texas.

Nothoscordum bivalve (Crow poison) looks very much like the Allium species.  However, you can tell them apart by smelling them.  The Allium species smell like onions or garlic—the crow poison smells musky.  Also, crow poison has cream-colored flowers and the Allium has white, pink or lavender colored flowers.  Is crow poison really a toxic plant?  We don't know for sure.  For more information about the toxicity of crow poison, please read the answer to that question from a couple of year's ago.  Given the uncertainty about whether or not it is toxic, I recommend that you NOT eat it. 

Zigadenus nuttallii (Death camas), however, is definitely considered poisonous.   DO NOT EAT ANY PART OF IT!  Here are links to a couple of toxic plant databases with more information:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina says that Zigadenus spp. are "highly toxic, may be fatal if eaten!"

Plants of Texas Rangelands (Toxic Plants of Texas)

 

From the Image Gallery


Meadow garlic
Allium canadense

Canada onion
Allium canadense var. canadense

Fraser meadow garlic
Allium canadense var. fraseri

Meadow garlic
Allium canadense var. mobilense

Drummond's onion
Allium drummondii

Crow poison
Nothoscordum bivalve

Crow poison
Nothoscordum bivalve

Nuttall's death camas
Zigadenus nuttallii

Nuttall's death camas
Zigadenus nuttallii

More Edible Plants Questions

Smarty Plants on edible and poisonous plants
June 06, 2005 - I am trying to gather information regarding edible and poisonous plants in Utah's Salt Lake City area. Can you help? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
September 15, 2011 - Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or...
view the full question and answer

Edible/medicinal plants in Suffolk County, NY
August 19, 2010 - Which types of edible/medicinal plants are available in Suffolk County (Long Island NY)? Is there a place I can find a list with information about what they look like, where they can be found and what...
view the full question and answer

Nectar from Lonicera sempervirens edible from Fairfax VA
June 01, 2011 - Is the nectar from Lonicera sempervirens edible?
view the full question and answer

Patience pays off with chile pequin in Austin
September 24, 2011 - Hello. Re my June 08, 2011 message -- Guess what! The chile pequin is finally flowering and setting fruit in its container on my apartment patio. You said patience, you were right, and hooray once aga...
view the full question and answer

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