South Dakota Native Plant Research
Liliaceae : Allium cernuum

Liliaceae : Allium cernuum


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Family Name


Common Name

wild onion, nodding wild onion, lady's leek


Allium cernuum is a perennial herb, which grows from a membranous bulb with stems 30 cm to 45 cm in height, that are usually bent just below the cluster of flowers. Each mature bulb typically bears a single flowering stem with up to 30 flowers. The leaves are keeled grass-like, flat or channeled and 2-4 mm wide. Flowers emerge from a membranous spathe in July and August, with the umbel nodding or laterally projected. The tepals are 3-5 mm long and white to pink in color. The 6 stamens are exerted from the tepals, and the ovary is prominently 6-crested. The fruit is a 3 valved capsule. This species is commonly found throughout much of Northern America in mountainous and cool regions, on ledges, gravels, rocky or wooded slopes and crests. Because of its wide distribution, it is variable in plant size, flower color and bloom time.

Additional Notes

Allium cernuumis edible and has a strong onion flavor but can be somewhat fibrous. The flowers attract butterflies.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Capsules can be harvested in late summer and early fall.

Germination: Scarify or fall sow for spring germination

Vegetative Propagation: Bulbs can br separated and treated like commercial onion sets.

Soils: This species will grow well in most garden soils,

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: medium to dry conditions

Notes: Tolerant of deer, dry soils, and growing beneath Black Walnut.

Liliaceae : Allium cernuum