Prairie onions are in the same family of plants as garden onions and garlic. The Allium family are bulb-forming plants. The prairie onion is native to the central US, including the Ozarks. It has been naturalized in many other places.
Wild prairie onions are edible and are tasty whether you use them raw or to cook. You can use them in any way you would use onions from the grocery store.
Where Do Prairie Onions Grow?
Wild prairie onions can be found in dry, rocky areas such as ledges and open prairies. In the spring you can find them by looking for the flowering heads which look like the photo above. The stalks stand 1-2 feet tall and the flowering heads are on the end of the single stalk.
How Do They Spread?
Prairie onions are spread by small black seeds that form in large amounts after the flowers have been fertilized. These seeds are a food source for numerous small birds and other animals.
What Do They Look Like?
In early spring they sprout spindly green foliage that dies back once the stem begins to form. The stem is 1-2 feet tall and the flowers form a bulb on the end of the stalk. The bulb is small much like the green onions you buy in bundles at the supermarket. They are very similar in taste and texture.
Please be 100% sure of your identity of any wild plant you intend to consume or use on your body. Many wild plants, including this one, can have look-alikes that might make you ill, or worse. Don’t take a chance if you aren’t sure. Get a good field guide to wild edible plants or take someone you trust who has the knowledge of wild edibles.
You can read more about wild edible and medicinal plants at our list of articles.