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Allium canadense: The Stinking Rose

Garlic and onions don't like to set underground bulbs here in hot Florida. I got around it bygrowing wild onions, Allium canadense, (AL-ee-um kan-uh-DEN-see. )

Any plant that smells like an onion or a garlic and LOOKS like an onion or a garlic is edible. If you do not smell a garlic or anonion odor beware you might have a similar-looking toxic plant.

All parts of the plant are edible, the underground bulbs (if any) the long, thin leaves, the blossoms, and the bulbets on top. Thebulbets are small cloves the plant sets where it blossoms. I find harvesting them much easier than digging for any bulbs the wild onion might have. If there are any they are usually six inches down. Butthe bulbets are easily taken off and used.

Onions and garlic belong to the Lily family. The most common wild one is the Allium canadense. It has flattened leaves rather than the hollow tubes of ascallion. It can have bulbets or bulbets with pinkish white flowers or bulbets with sprouted green tails. If it sets underground bulbs they will be no bigger than pearl onions. (See recipes belowITEM panel.)

Incidentally, it is often said the city of Chicago's from an Indian phrase that means "where the wild onions grow." That is poetically very inaccurate. Chicago is actually a Frenchmistransliteration of the Menomini phrase Sikaakwa which literally means "striped skunk." We would say ‘the striped skunk place.” The skunks were there because Allium tricoccum (Ramps) were growingthere. Skunks know good food when they smell it. The nearby Des Plains River was called the Striped Skunk River.”

While northern Indians used the plants extensively there is no record of the southernIndians using them, though various southern tribes had names for the onion. Some of the tribes considered onions not edible. Ramps, A. tricoccum, (try-KOK-um) right, are also in the onion family,...
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