Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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

Ridding non-native centipede grass of native rattlesnake weed in Myrtle Beach SC
April 25, 2010 - How do I get rid of "rattlesnake weed" in my lawn of centipede grass in Myrtle Beach SC?
view the full question and answer

Sap oozing from non-native Chinese pistache in San Antonio
September 07, 2011 - I live in San Antonio, and my chinese pistache is exuding copious amounts of a sticky sap from old trim sites and from the trunk itself. The tree is about 12 years old and has been healthy up until no...
view the full question and answer

Tree roots under concrete from Ft. Worth TX
February 10, 2013 - We bought a house that has 2 trees (I believe ornamental pear trees) within a concrete patio. I found info that said basically, remove the concrete. We can't do that now (although I have encouraged...
view the full question and answer

Mid-summer watering needs of non-native dwarf Meyer Lemon tree in Austin
March 20, 2011 - I live in Central Texas outside Austin city limits. I've recently purchased a dwarf Meyer lemon tree and planted it in a large pot. It's doing very well. I will be out-of-state from July through ...
view the full question and answer

Use of non-native jasmine for wedding in Salt Lake City
January 08, 2010 - I am getting married mid summer in Salt Lake City. I want to incorporate jasmine plants/flowers into my bouquet, centerpieces, etc. Is that feasible living in Salt Lake City? Would they survive long e...
view the full question and answer

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