Nodding Onion

Allium cernuum Amaryllidaceae

Growth habit


Native distribution

Native to the Finger Lakes Region, Mexico to Canada


"A spreading bulb with nodding 18-24"" tall white or pink flowers.
Light: full sun to part shade.
Moisture and Soil: moist to dry."


Seed Treatment and Storage: easy to grow and a prolific germinator, but seed is only viable for one year.

Biocultural value

Native American groups throughout nodding onion's range have employed the plant's spicy bulbs and leaves as a vegetable and flavoring. The Cherokee also used the juice to treat colds, sore throats, hives, kidney problems, and liver complaints. The Cherokee, Isleta, Kwakiutl, and Quinault prepared a poultice of the bulbs and applied it to various parts of the body to ease fevers, croup, skin infections, sores, and pleurisy.
Raw or cooked onion bulbs seasoned many foods such as meat stews.

The statements above were sourced from:

Native American Ethnobotany Database: http://naeb.BRIT Native American Ethnobotany

Wildlife value

Cellophane bees (Colletes spp.) are one of nodding onion's principal pollinators and visit the flowers for both pollen and nectar. Additional floral visitors include leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.), small resin bees (Heriades spp.), sweat bees (Lasioglossum spp.), bumble bees (Bombus spp.), soldier beetles (Chauliognathus spp.), tumbling flower beetles (Mordella spp.), and syrphid flies (Allograpta spp.).


Mundy Wildflower Garden, Robison Herb Garden, Pounder Vegetable Garden and Climate Change Garden

Source of plant

Krissy Boys, Lazy S's Farm Nursery


Stem 30-70cm, terete or angled, sharply curved at tip; bulbs 1-2cm diameter, narrow, ovoid, clustered on rhizomes, tunics membranous. Leaves 10-20 x 0.5-0.7cm, 4-6, basal, flat. Flowers cup-shaped, 30-40 in a pendulous umbel, 3-5cm diameter; spathes to 1cm, 2; pedicels 8-18mm, bending upwards once fruit develops; tepals 4-6mm, white, deep pink or maroon; stamens exserted; ovary with 6 crests persisting on fruit.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics