Hexonychia stellatum (Nutt. ex Ker Gawl.) Salisb.
Stelmesus stellatus (Nutt. ex Ker Gawl.) Raf.
Common Name: Prairie Onion
Allium stellatum is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing 3 - 5 leaves 14 - 35cm long and a flowering scape 20 - 50cm tall from an underground bulb. The plant divides, forming in time a cluster of plants[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is often grown as an ornamental in gardens.
Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in very large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[
Central and eastern N. America - Saskatchewan to Ontario, south to Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee
Rocky prairies, slopes, shores and ridges[
]. Usually found on limestone soils[
]. Often found on calcareous soils; at elevations from 300 - 2,200 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
An easily grown plant, it prefers a sunny position in a rich moist but well-drained soil[
The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[
]. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants[
There is at least one named variety - 'Album' has white flowers[
Closely allied to Allium cernuum and to Allium textile[
Bulb - raw or cooked[
]. The bulbs are eaten by native north Americans[
]. They are rather small, about 4cm tall and 15mm wide[
Leaves - raw or cooked.
Flowers - raw. Used as a garnish on salads.
A sweetened decoction of the root has been taken, mainly by children, as a remedy for colds[
Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system[
Allium species usually grow well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but they inhibit the growth of legumes[
]. They are, in general, bad companions for alfalfa - each species negatively affecting the other[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the juice of most species in this genus (especially those with a strong onion or garlic smell) can be used as a moth repellent[
The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle - if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough.
Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.