The Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum) has erect, smooth flowering stalks that rise above the basal leaves. They can range in colours anywhere from light green to light red. The basal leaves are linear, flat and have parallel veins making for a pleasant, symmetrical look. The stalk ends in a production of nodding clusters of flowers – where the species derives the English name ‘Nodding’ Wild Onion. While the flowers are not apparently fragrant, when crushed, the foliage will exude an onion-like scent. After the blooming period, the flowers will give way to seed capsules.
Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum) will look great in any garden. It’s drought tolerant, it thrives in compact soils, and grows in tidy, short clumps, meaning it’s ideal in a mixed perennial border or rock garden. During the mid-summer months, each clump produces inflorescences, or scapes – a long, leafless flower stalk coming directly from a root – topped with a nodding umbel of whitish pink flowers.
Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum) supports a variety of generalist pollinators including native bees, which is an increasingly important attribute as we strive to protect the dwindling bee population.
This species is a wild relative of the culinary onions, garlic, chives, leeks and shallots. The leaves and flowers are edible, and taste quite similar to green onions. While they can be eaten raw, they’re a mite tough. They’re best enjoyed sautéed.
This species is rare in Ontario, growing only in alvar habitat on Pelee Island, so don’t delay, add this unique specimen to your garden today!
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