Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Wild onion bud

with 19 comments

Wild Onion Bud 9860

You’ll probably find more patterning and texture than you’d expect in the bud of a wild onion, Allium canadense var. canadense. Though ancient in design, it could pass for the latest sculpture or architecture.

This photograph is from April 3 along E. University Blvd. in Georgetown. The property was one on which I’d never worked before.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 9, 2016 at 5:10 AM

19 Responses

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  1. This single bud is a good indicator of the variety I’ve seen this plant exhibit. It’s more turban-shaped than any I’ve seen, but you’ve also shown more pointed buds, as well as some with conspicuously red bulblets. All of them are so elegant, and appealing.

    I just discovered there’s also an Allium drummondii. When I wondered how to tell the species apart, I found this:

    “Wild Garlic, Drummond’s Onion, Drummond Wild Onion, Prairie Onion (Allium drummondii) is the most widely distributed wild onion species in Texas, growing natively in various soils and vegetative areas. The 3/4 inch wide blooms have tepals not petals, appear on a slender flower stem, are clustered in an umbel. They produce shiny black seeds. An asexual form produces tiny bulbets at the tips of the flower stalks.”

    “This species may be distinguished from Allium canadense by examining the underground bulbs. The outer covering of Allium drummondii bulbs are papery; whereas, Allium canadense bulbs have a criss-cross fiber-type coating surrounding them.”

    I found a “mystery” flower that has an umbel of pretty pink flowers. After comparison with other photos, I thnk it might be wild onion, since my assumption that their flowers always are white was wrong.


    April 9, 2016 at 6:44 AM

    • I vaguely remember reading, years ago, about that difference in the bulb covering between the two species. Of course that implies digging up the plant. Even without that, there’s something about the gestalt of each species that’s different enough that I can tell the two apart (and I hope I haven’t been deluding myself!).

      My observations coincide with the statement that Drummond’s species is the most commonly found wild onion species in (central) Texas. I’m still seeing lots of it around Austin. I’ve read that both species are edible but that a person should limit the quantity consumed to avoid an upset stomach.

      As for today’s picture, I also thought about a turban. Some of the photographs I took of this bud from different angles showed more pink. That’s in part what attracted me to this bulb, so maybe I should also have offered up a view with more of the pink for comparison.

      By the way, Latin allium evolved to the Spanish word for garlic, ajo, which you may have encountered on a menu in a Mexican restaurant. Or maybe you’re familiar with the sauce called aioli, in which the first part of the compound reflects the Catalan/Occitan/Provençal word for garlic.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 9, 2016 at 7:13 AM

  2. A lovely image that evokes how strong Mother Nature’s progeny are even in their infancy…


    April 9, 2016 at 7:56 AM

  3. We have this one and Allium cernuum here. In fact I believe that is what “Chicago” means in the local native tongue: “Stinking onion”. Hillsides will be covered with onions, and it does get pungent. I would love to see Drummond’s some time. I believe they grow a bit to the southwest of where I live.


    April 9, 2016 at 9:19 AM

  4. A photo full of the promise of things to come. Beautifully lit, Steve. The dark background really frames it well.


    April 10, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    • I’ll admit I was happy with the lighting here, and it was all natural even if it seems theatrical. Oh, the drama of nature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2016 at 6:55 AM

  5. Isn’t it beautiful .. I’m a great fan of the allium family. So are the insects once they start flowering ..


    April 11, 2016 at 5:16 AM

  6. The lighting and shaping of the bud reminds me of a piece of art I have seen…just don’t ask me by whom.

    Steve Gingold

    April 11, 2016 at 2:30 PM

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