Edible Maryland Native plants: Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion

Apr 25, 2024 | Blog, Native Plant Spotlight

Edible Maryland Native Plants

Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion



Allium cernuum – nodding wild onion, is an edible native plant which occurs primarily in rocky soils on glades, bluff edges, open woods and slopes in the Ozark region of the State. Plants typically grow 12-18” tall. Features clumps of flat, narrow, grass-like leaves and tiny bell-shaped, pink to lilac pink (occasionally white) flowers which appear in loose, nodding clusters (umbels) atop erect, leafless scapes rising slightly above the foliage. Wild nodding onion is distinguished from most other native alliums by the fact that its scapes crook sharply downward at the top just below the flower so that the flower umbel nods. Blooms in summer.

All parts of this plant have an onion smell when cut or bruised and are a delightful foraged edible. Grows easily in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil. Best in full sun but appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Best in sandy loams, but tolerates clay. Plants will naturalize by self-seeding and bulb offsets in optimum growing conditions. Deadhead flowers before seed sets to help control any unwanted spread. Foliage persists past flowering into late summer before dying back.

Common Name: nodding onion
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Clay Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut
(Information from Missouri Botanical Garden)
Nodding onion seed heads

Nodding onion seed heads

Nodding onion blooms

Nodding onion blooms

Allium cernuum flower

Nodding onion bloom close up

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