May 20, 2013

Wild Onions

"A weed is simply a plant that you don't know what to do with."
Author Unknown
 
As I walked up the hill one morning after feeding the horses, I noticed a group of white flowers on the other side of the old goat pen. I couldn't tell what kind they were so I walked over to the fence and looked. Wild onions!


This spring for the first time I noticed that we had wild onions growing in the front yard. Just one tall leaf here and there, which were mowed down regularly along with the grass. I knew that there were wild onions growing at our county fairgrounds, but they too are kept mowed close to the ground, with the pungent smell of onions hovering over the grass. To find this little patch on the unused side of our property was a joy.

I spent some time researching wild onions online, and found a caution: pick a stem, crush it, and sniff. If it smells onion-y, it's an onion. If it smells like grass or has no smell, it's "crow's poison" which is toxic. All members of the allium family, including garlic and chives, have distinctive smells.

And so I did. I went through a gate, climbed over a fence, and wiggled through the woods to the clearing, and picked a stem from the wild onion plant. It did NOT smell like onions. What I thought was wild onions, isn't. This shows how important it is to research new plants.

If you're fortunate to have real wild onions, you can use them just like green onions. They have round, hollow stems with a small white bulb. They usually grow in open, sunny areas like lawns and clearings. Even the flowers are edible, and can be eaten raw in salads. You'll need to dig up the small bulbs rather than pull them by the stems, which will break off - or so I've read, since I don't have any of my own. The onion bulbs can be hung to dry in the fall just like their cultivated cousins.


Remember, before using this or any herb, please research it fully.
You are responsible for your own health. 
 


Other posts in this series:
Plantain
Woolly Mullein
Wild Onions
Echinacea
Yarrow
How to Harvest Yarrow
Pokeweed
Lambsquarters
Curly Dock
Vetch
DIY Herb Field Guide

 
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