Allium canadense var. canadense

meadow garlic, canada onion, wild onion


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Type


Growth Form


Flower Color

pink, white

Flower Month

March - May

Height (meters)

0.2 - 0.5

Milky Sap







biennial, perennial

Growing Season

Cool season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

A. canadensis var. mobilensis has only flowers in its umbels (usually pink), while A. canadensis var. canadensis has white flowers and bulbils on its umbel.

Cultural Information

Starting plants from bulblets is a convenient method of propagation. Larger bulblets germinate better than smaller ones and retain their viability longer (Krochmal, 1960). Bulblets held in cold storage at 40 degrees F broke dormancy while those stored at room temperature had lower germination percentages. Germination temperature was 69 degrees F. Bulblets held for 3 years at room temperature could not be germinated (Andersen 1968). Allium canadense is easily started from seed in the greenhouse during late winter or early spring. Bulbs can be divided in fall.

Animal Use

An acceptable forage for cattle but can taint the taste of milk in dairy cows. Charles Robertson, 1928: Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; bee flies suck nectar only, while other flies suck nectar or feed on pollen; other insects suck nectar; observations are from Graenicher and Reed Bees (long-tongued) Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocallis (Re), Bombus impatiens (Re), Bombus vagans (Re); Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora terminalis cp (Gr); Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys moesta sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile relativa (Re); Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis cylindricus sn (Gr), Hoplitis producta sn (Gr), Osmia pumila sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Stelidini): Stelis sexmaculata sn (Gr), Stelis subemarginatus sn (Gr); Megachilidae (Trypetini): Heriades carinatum (Re) Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus confusus sn (Gr), Lasioglossum albipennis sn (Gr), Lasioglossum athabascense (Re), Lasioglossum coriaceus sn cp (Gr), Lasioglossum cressonii sn (Gr), Lasioglossum pilosus (Re), Lasioglossum versatus sn (Gr); Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes kincaidii (Re), Colletes robertsonii (Re); Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis (Re), Hylaeus mesillae sn (Gr), Hylaeus modestus modestus sn (Gr); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Calliopsis andreniformis sn cp (Gr) Wasps Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Oxybelus uniglumis (Gr); Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris nigrescens (Gr); Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi (Gr); Vespidae (Eumeninae): Eumenes fraterna (Gr), Parancistrocerus pedestris (Gr), Parancistrocerus pensylvanicus (Gr) Flies Chamaemyiidae: Chamaemyia juncorum (Gr); Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps sn (Gr), Bombylius mexicanus sn (Gr); Syrphidae: Chrysotoxum sp. (Re), Eristalis arbustorum (Gr), Eristalis stipator (Re), Eupeodes americanus (Gr), Paragus tibialis (Gr), Sphaerophoria contiqua (Gr), Toxomerus geminatus (Gr, Re), Toxomerus marginatus (Gr); Tachinidae: Cylindromyia dosiades (Gr), Gymnosoma fuliginosum (Gr); Sarcophagidae: Sphixapata trilineata (Gr); Calliphoridae: Lucilia sericata (Gr); Anthomyiidae: Anthomyia sp. (Gr), Delia platura (Gr) Beetles Coccinellidae: Cycloneda sanguinea (Gr); Mordellidae: Mordellistena comata (Gr)

Natural History

Allium is an ancient name for garlic. It is thought to be derived from the Celtic word "all", which means pungent. This variety is most commonly found in ditches, fields, open woods and disturbed sites. It is weedier than var. mobilensis. It occurs through out the tallgrass prairie areas of the plains states and most of the eastern United States. The bulbs and young leaves of this plant can be eaten raw or cooked anytime of year, but are best in the fall or early spring (Chase 1965).