Friday, April 3, 2020
Meadow Garlic - Allium canadense
The foliage consists of succulent strap-like leaves that resemble those of its common garden relatives - onions, garlic and chives to name a few. Like its relatives, these leaves give off a strong odor of garlic, especially when crushed, and can be used in cooking. The leaves are 6-12 inches long by maturity.
Flower stalks rise from the center of the plant in spring. The blooms range from a soft pink to bright white, like the ones in this photograph. They are visited by small bees and butterflies. Pollinated flowers produce seed heads containing tiny seeds. What makes this plant unique among most of our native wildflowers is that the flowers are surrounded by small bulbs that are produced vegetatively. These drop to the ground once the flower stalk is fully mature and produce new plants near the base of their parents.
Meadow garlic is a fun plant to grow in a garden - especially in one devoted to permaculture. Plants require very little extra care and do well in most typical upland spoils and sunlight. Care must be taken, however, to mark the areas in which it is planted as it seems absent for about half the year. This wildflower is rarely offered for sale by members of FANN - the Association of Native Nurseries, but once acquired, it is easy to propagate. It also spreads over time if given a space where it is not disturbed too often.