Allium vineale monocotyledon herb.Winter green perennial or spring ephemeral from small bulbs 1-2 cm wide, usually accompanied by small, loosely attached bulb offsets, flat on one side, in a hard, tan outer “skin”, (Gargiullo personal observation), colonial from bulb offsets, forming large clumps; all parts smell strongly of onion/garlic when crushed.
Leaves slender, blade 10-20 cm long, cylindrical, hollow, dark, matte blue-green, comes up in autumn, winter or early spring, dies back in summer by about June.
Flowers white-pink, small, 6-parted, each flower on a red to purple stalk 1-2 cm long from top of the inflorescence stem, stem 30-100 cm long, longer than leaves; blooming in June, pollinated by small bees and flies. Flowers often replaced by small bulbils with a tiny curling leaf (see photo above), seeds and bulbils dispersed by gravity, bulbils germinate in Sept.-Oct.
Fruit dry, hollow, rarely formed; seeds, rarely formed, not persisting over 1 year in seed bank.
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in NYC: Very common.
Habitat: Woodlands, floodplains, lawns, gardens.
Notes: Pest species in disturbed areas. May displace native spring ephemerals. Since it is dormant through the summer, it is not shaded out by growth of taller plants (Gargiullo personal observation). The subterranean bulbs can be dormant up to 5 years (Ronsheim 1994). Not found in dry, sterile soil. Found in soil pH 5-7.6 (Gargiullo unpublished data). Bulbs apparently edible (Yatskievych 2006).