Herbs & Plants

Allium canadense

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Botanical Name : Allium canadense
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. canadense
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Names; Canada onion, Canadian garlic, Wild garlic, Meadow garlic and Wild onion, Fraser meadow garlic, Hyacinth meadow garlic

Habitat : Allium canadense is native to N. America – New Brunswick to Minnesota, south to Florida and Colorado. It grows on the sandy soils in low woods, thickets and meadows.

Allium canadense has an edible bulb covered with a dense skin of brown fibers and tastes like an onion. The plant also has strong, onion-like odor. Crow garlic (Allium vineale) is similar, but it has a strong garlic taste


The narrow, grass-like leaves originate near the base of the stem, which is topped by a dome-like cluster of star-shaped, pink or white flowers. These flowers may be partially or entirely replaced by bulblets. When present, the flowers are hermaphroditic (both male and female organs) and are pollinated by American bees (not honeybees) and other insects. It typically flowers in the spring and early summer, from May to June.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

The bulblet-producing form is classified as A. canadense var. canadense. It was once thought that the tree onion could be related to this plant, but it is now known that the cultivated tree onion is a hybrid between the common onion (A. cepa) and Welsh onion (A. fistulosum), classified as A. × proliferum.

Five varieties of the species are widely recognized:

*Allium canadense var. canadense – most pedicels replaced by bulbils rarely producing fruits or seeds, most of the range of the species
*Allium canadense var. ecristatum Ownbey tepals deep pink and rather thick, coastal plain of Texas
*Allium canadense var. fraseri Ownbey – flowers white, Great Plains from Texas to Kansas
*Allium canadense var. hyacinthoides (Bush) Ownbey – tepals pink, thin, flowers fragrant, northern Texas and southern Oklahoma
*Allium canadense var. lavandulare (Bates) Ownbey & Aase – flowers lavender, not fragrant, northern Arkansas to South Dakota
*Allium canadense var. mobilense (Regel) Ownbey – flowers lilac, pedicels thread-like, southeastern US
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. A moisture loving plant according to another report. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Bulbs grow to a good size under cultivation. Some forms of this species produce many bulbils and are considered to be a pernicious weed in some areas of America, there is some risk that they could spread aggressively in Britain. A. canadense mobilense. (Reg.)F.M.Ownb. is a form that does not produce bulbils and is much better behaved. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required. Bulbils planted in situ when ripe.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.

Bulb – raw or cooked. It can be used as a vegetable, or as a flavouring in soups and stews, and can also be pickled[2]. The bulb is up to 30mm in diameter, it is crisp, mild and with a pleasant flavour. Used as a leek substitute according to one report, it is a garlic substitute according to others. Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious mild flavour, they are available from early spring until the autumn. They make a very acceptable salad and can also be used as a greens or as a flavouring in cooked foods. Flowers – raw. A little bit stronger flavour than the leaves, especially as the seeds begin to form, they can be used as a flavouring and garnish on salads. Some forms of this species produce bulbils. These top-setting bulbils make a fine onion flavoured pickle. They are said to have a superior flavour to other pickled onions.
Medicinal Uses:

Antiasthmatic; Carminative; Cathartic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Stimulant.

The plant is antiasthmatic, carminative, cathartic, diuretic, expectorant and stimulant. A tincture is used to prevent worms and colic in children, and also as a remedy for croup. Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses: The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles. The plant can be rubbed on exposed parts of the body to protect them from insect bites and the bites of scorpions, lizards etc

Known Hazards:
Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible

This plant can cause gastroenteritis in young children who ingest parts of this plant. Chronic ingestion of the bulbs reduces iodine uptake by the thyroid gland, which can lead to problems. No specific treatment is suggested other than to prevent dehydration (Lampe and McCann 1985). Livestock have also been poisoned by ingesting wild onions, and some have died (Pipal 1918). Horses have developed hemolytic anemia from ingesting wild onion leaves (Scoggan 1989)

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.