Wild Allium

published May 10, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Have you ever come across those onion-y greens growing among the grasses in springtime? Ever wonder if you could pick them and bring them into your kitchen?

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Well, the answer is maybe. What you’re seeing in the lawn is possibly a member of the Allium genus. That’s the same genus that brings us the onion family: garlics, leeks, shallots, onions, chives…

And, from Wild Food Foragers, “According to Peterson’s Field Guide, all species of Allium are edible.” The trick is identifying whether what’s growing in your yard is of the Allium genus. See the lowdown on identification and harvesting of wild Allium over at Wild Food Foragers. The main tip we picked up over there: if it smells like onion AND looks like onion, it is of the Allium genus.

What do you do with it once you’re done identifying and harvesting? You can use wild Allium (whether garlic or onion) much like you would domestic Allium: Wild Food Foragers says to “Sprinkle like chives on baked potatoes, add to soups, stews, sandwiches and salads. Anywhere you’d use onions. The little bulbs are edible if peeled and can be chopped up with the leaves, eaten raw, pickled, roasted, sauteed, etc. The roots are tough, but are great additions to the stock pot if well washed.”

Another bonus? Eating wild onions, as with all wild greens, will help keep away mosquitoes and gnats! Some words of warning: If you’ve spotted any wild Allium in lawns that are chemically treated, pass right over it. Once you find some that’s suitable, don’t eat too much. Wild onion and garlic is much more potent than domestic. Not to mention, too much can cause diahrrea.

On that note, have you ever used wild Allium in your home cooking? Let us know how you put it to use!

(Images: Fred Fishel and Glenn Hardebeck / Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory, Wild Food Foragers)