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Allium stellatum (Autumn onion)
Bengston, Bennie

Allium stellatum

Allium stellatum Fraser ex Ker Gawl.

Autumn Onion, Prairie Onion

Liliaceae (Lily Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A 1-2 ft., chive-like perennial forming tufts of slender, solid leaves and stems. The green leaves appear in spring and die back as the flowering stalks appear. Umbels of rose-pink to lavender flowers form erect, 3-4 in. wide balls.

The bulbs of wild onions have a strong flavor but can be eaten raw or parboiled. Early explorers ate them, and they were also used by settlers to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. Chives (A. schoenoprasum) has hollow leaves and long, narrow, sharply pointed, lavender petals; it was introduced from Europe in the northeastern United States and in Canada from Alberta to Newfoundland.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Fruit: Seeds black.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec


USA: AR , IA , IL , IN , KS , MI , MN , MO , NC , ND , OK , SD , TN , TX , WI , WY
Canada: BC , MB , ON , SK
Native Distribution: Ont. to Sask., s. to TN & TX
Native Habitat: Rocky prairies, slopes, shores & ridges

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Mesic to dry, rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Some Allium species can become weedy in warmer climates.


Use Wildlife: Prairie onion attracts butterflies.
Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Leaves, bulbs and bulblets. Field garlic (A. vineale) is too strong for most tastes. Gather leaves during spring and fall. Gather bulbs in the second year when they are large enough to use like cultivated onions. Flower stem bulblets are collected during the summer. Use as domestic onions, for seasoning or raw in salads. Bulbs can be used raw, boiled, pickled or for seasoning. Their strong taste can be reduced by parboiling and discarding the water. To freeze onions or garlic, one should coarsely chop, blanch two minutes, drain, pat dry and place them into plastic bags. The bulbs can also be dried for use as seasoning. Use flower bulbs to flavor soup or for pickling. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)

The bulb of wild inions are very strong but can be eaten raw or parboiled. Early explorers ate them, and they were also used by the American settlers to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. (Niering)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts but causes only low toxicity if eaten; can be safely eaten in small amounts, large quantities not recommended. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic Principle: Sulfides. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Division of bulb cluster; seed
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 902 - Ex situ plant conservation : supporting species survival in the wild (2004) Guerrant, E. O.; K. Havens; M. Maunder
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Allium stellatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Allium stellatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Allium stellatum


Record Modified: 2022-11-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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