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

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 deathcamas
Zigadenus nuttallii

Nuttall's deathcamas
Zigadenus nuttallii

More Poisonous Plants Questions

hummingbird attractants
May 03, 2012 - I live in Baytown, Texas and am looking for a variety of plants that attract Hummingbirds, but are also pet friendly. I have two dogs, so this is a major concern. I am putting the plants in my backyar...
view the full question and answer

Plant with poisonous thorns
July 27, 2008 - Is there a bush or tree out there that has thorns on it that can make you swell and cause you to feel like you can hardly move you're whole hand.
view the full question and answer

Beneficial characteristics of Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed)
May 21, 2013 - I have a surprise Polk weed plant growing in my back yard, does it have any beneficial uses,and if not, how best to eradicate it. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Tough, Non-toxic Vine to Cover Fence in Washington
February 16, 2014 - I have about 150 feet of 6-foot high chain link fence that I would like to cover with a vine for privacy. I really want an evergreen or semi-evergreen plant that requires very little care. I also don...
view the full question and answer

Safe grazing for donkeys and goats from Osteen FL
June 30, 2012 - I am having a very difficult time trying to find shrubs, hedges, plants, flowers, or trees etc. that are safe for donkeys and goats. We live in Zone 9 and have a small farm. I've had to pull every ...
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