Allium canadense L.

Allium canadense plant

Family - Liliaceae

Stems - From a bulb. Bulb covered with a dense network of criss-cross fibers. Fibers tan in color. Bulb to 3cm long, ovoid. Aerial stems to +40cm tall, erect, glabrous, terete, single to multiple from the base, simple.

Allium canadense bulbBulb with distinctive criss-cross fibers.

Leaves - Basal, linear, glabrous, to +40cm long, 2-7mm broad, green to pale green, with a broad shallow groove adaxially, sometimes folding at the base, pale green to whitish at the base.

Inflorescence - Terminal umbel of zero to many flowers. Sometimes the flowers replaced with reddish bulblets. Sometimes inflorescence a combination of bulblets and flowers, or all flowers. Bulblets sessile. Flowers with pedicels to +4cm long, glabrous, erect. Pedicels much longer than the flowers. Bud of inflorescence covered with a scarious tan bract. Bract persistent at the base of the umbel after anthesis.

Allium canadense inflorescence

Allium canadense bractBract.

Allium canadense bulbletsInflorescence with most of the flowers replaced by bulblets.

Flowers - Tepals 6, pink to white, glabrous, oblong-lanceolate, to +/-8mm long, +/-3mm broad. Stamens 6, erect. Filaments pinkish, glabrous, expanded at the base, adnate to the base of the tepals, +/-5mm long. Ovary subglobose, glabrous, 3-locular. Style glabrous, +/-5mm long, pinkish. Ovules 3-4 per locule.

Allium canadense flowerPink flower.

Allium canadense flowerWhite flower.

Flowering - April - July.

Habitat - Glades, bluffs, open woods, prairies, disturbed sites.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This showy plant can be found throughout Missouri. It is especially common in glade areas of the Ozarks. The plant has a strong onion scent and is edible.
Many authors have tried to split this species into varieties based on the number of flowers or bulbs produced. I will not go into these here as the varieties are probably not valid. Bulb producing plants can be found growing right next to flower producing specimens.
Other Allium species are similar in appearance to this one but only A. canadense has the characteristic fiber coating on its bulb. Be careful not to remove the coating when digging the plant up to check.

Photographs taken at Taum Sauk Mountain, MO., 5-31-03.


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