nodding wild onion

(Allium cernuum var. cernuum)

Conservation Status
nodding wild onion
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S2 - Imperiled

     
  Minnesota

Special Concern

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland

     
  Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Nodding wild onion is an erect perennial forb rising from 2 to 5, sometimes more, clustered bulbs.

The bulbs are to 1 tall, to wide, elongate, slender, and cone-shaped. They are encased in a brownish or grayish membranous coating. They gradually taper to the stem.

Three to five basal leaves arise near together at the soil surface forming a basal rosette. They are shorter than the stem. They are 4 to 18 long, about wide, linear, flat, soft, and solid, with a small ridge running the length of the blade. They sheath the stem near the soil surface. They remain after the flowers are fully formed.

A single, leafless, flowering stem (scape) rises from the center of the rosette of leaves. When in bud, the scape bends downward (nods) at the top, and the umbel faces toward the ground. The scape is permanently nodding. By the time the flowers are mature the umbel faces upward on the still bent scape.

The inflorescence is a single umbrella-like flowering cluster at the top of the scape. The cluster is shaped like half of a sphere. It has 8 to 35 flowers and no bulblets. There are two bracts at the base of the cluster that soon fall off. When in bud, the cluster bends downward (nods) at the top of the scape. When the flowers are fully mature the scape is still (permanently) nodding, but the flowers may become erect or semi-erect.

The flowers are ¼ wide and bell-shaped. They are composed of 6 white to pink tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals that are similar in appearance). They are on ¼ to 1 long flower stalks, the inner ones on shorter stalks, the outer ones on longer stalks, like an umbrella. There is no floral fragrance, but the bulb and foliage have an onion-like scent.

The fruit is a seed capsule. The pedicels become stouter with the fruit, growing longer and bending abruptly upright from near the point of attachment.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

1 to 2

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White to pink

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Meadow garlic (Allium canadense var. canadense) blooms much earlier, May to June. The scape never nods. It has 3 to 6 basally-sheathed leaves, attached only in the lower quarter or third of the stem. The leaves are flat and soft. Most or all of the flowers in the inflorescence have been replaced with bulblets. The flowers are ½ wide.

Prairie onion (Allium stellatum) has egg-shaped bulbs. The leaves are stiff. The scape nods when the flowers are in bud but becomes erect by the time the flowers are fully open. The individual flowers of prairie onion are star-shaped.

Textile onion (Allium textile) is a shorter plant, reacing only 4 to 12 at maturity. It blooms much earlier, May to June. It has only 1 or 2 basal leaves. The leaves are half-round, more or less straight, and solid, with a wide, rounded channel running the length of the blade. The scape is erect, not nodding, and does not rise above the level of the leaves. The tepals are white, only rarely pink, and have red or reddish-brown midribs.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist to dry. Prairies, hillsides, dry woods, rock banks. Full sun.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 28.

The USDA PLANTS database shows this species present in 62 counties in Minnesota. All other sources show this species to be much rarer. The map at left does not include results from the PLANTS database.

 
  12/26/2011      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  
 

Order

Asparagales (agaves, orchids, irises, and allies)  
 

Family

Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis, onions, and allies)  
  Subfamily Allioideae  
  Tribe Allieae  
 

Genus

Allium (onion)  
  Subgenus Amerallium  
  Section Lophioprason  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Allium allegheniense

Allium cernuum var. cernuum

Allium cernuum var. neomexicanum

Allium cernuum var. obtusum

Allium natans

Allium neomexicanum

Allium oxyphilum

Allium recurvatum

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

lady’s leek

nodding onion

nodding wild onion

wild onion

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Elongate

Drawn out, lengthened.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Pedicel

On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen.

 

Scape

An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Tepal

Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.

 

Umbel

A flat-topped or convex umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

       
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Plant

  nodding wild onion   nodding wild onion
       

Inflorescence

  nodding wild onion    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Allium cernuum
Butler Herbarium
 
  Allium cernuum  
     
  Allium cernuum NODDING WILD ONION
Frank Mayfield
 
  Allium cernuum NODDING WILD ONION  

 

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Other Videos
 
  Nodding Onion - Allium cernuum blooming at Ion Exchange
Ionxchange
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 7, 2011

Earthyman views priaire plant, Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) in bloom at native seed and plant nursery in northeast Iowa. http://www.ionxchange.com

   
       
  Flora View - Allium cernuum - sierui - Amerikaanse look - lady's leek
dreamshot
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 29, 2012

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- Allium cernuum - sierui - Amerikaanse look - lady's leek in my traditional kitchen garden, also known as a kailyard, or potager.
Allium cernuum, known as nodding wild onion and lady's leek, is a perennial plant in the genus Allium. It is native to North America. The bulb is edible and has a strong onion flavor.

   
       
  Nodding Wild Onion
Karl Foord
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 29, 2013

No description available.

   
       
  Bumblebees Visit Nodding Wild Onion
Robert Klips
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jan 8, 2011

Nodding Wild Onion, Aliium cernuum (Liliaceae) is a native North American Wildflower that is common in meadows, prairies and roadsides. Bumblebees avidly forage on these blossoms on July 31, 2010 in Delaware County, Ohio, USA.

   
       

 

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