NCBG North Carolina Botanical Garden

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Scientific Name: or show all plants or perform combination search
Plant Family:

Allium cernuum

Allium cernuum Roth

nodding onion

Allium cernuum (Nodding Onion)
image by Parkins, Grant Morrow
NCBG PLANT INDEX
ID_PLANT: ALCE2
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Allium cernuum
GENUS: Allium
FAMILY: LILIAC - Liliaceae (Lily Family)

NCBG DESCRIPTIVES
INTRO: Erect, scapose perennial found in open woodlands or around outcrops of shale or mafic, ultramafic, or calcareous rocks, mostly at low elevations in the Mountains.
STEMS: Stem a smooth flowering scape arising from a cluster of reddish-purple bulbs.
LEAVES: Leaves mostly basal, linear and flattened, 4-15 in. long, with a whitish cast and limp appearance.
INFLORESCENCE:
FLOWERS: Flowers on relatively thick stalks within a dense umbel at the “shepherd’s crook” terminus of the scape, white or pink to purplish, widely bell-shaped and downward pointing, to ¼ in. long and consisting of 6 petaloid tepals.
FRUITS: Fruit a 3-lobed capsules containing black seeds.
COMMENTS: All parts have an onion smell and flavor; bulbils are absent. The similar Allium alleghaniense, which is more restricted in distribution and favors moderate to fairly high elevations, differs in having darker magenta-purple tepals with rounded rather than pointed tips.
HEIGHT: 12-15 in.

DURATION: Perennial
HABIT: Herb

LEAF ARRANGEMENT: Basal
LEAF COMPLEXITY: Simple
LEAF RETENTION:

FLORAL
SYMMETRY: Radial (Actinomorphic)
BLOOM TIME: Jun-early Aug
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
x x x

BLOOM COLOR: White or light pink
White Red Pink Orange Yellow Green Blue Lavender Purple Violet Brown Not Applicable
x x

FRUITING PERIOD: Aug-Oct.

DISTRIBUTION
HABITAT TYPE: Outcrops and glades, Woods margins
NATIVE RANGE: North America

HORTICULTURAL
Plant Sale Text: Nodding onion is found in open woodlands and rock outcrops at lower mountain elevations in much of the continental U.S. The nodding umbels of pink flowers serve to distinguish nodding onion from other members of the genus Allium. Nodding onion is useful for small border massings, rock gardens and naturalized areas. Cut back foliage and seed heads in the fall.

Cultural Notes:

SOIL MOISTURE: Average, Well-drained
LIGHT EXPOSURE: Sun, Part Shade
MINIMUM HARDINESS ZONE: 3
MAXIMUM HARDINESS ZONE: 9
GERMINATION CODE: 1
WILDLIFE VALUE: Bee Friendly, Butterfly Friendly
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
USDA Symbol: ALCE2
USDA Common Name: Nodding Onion
Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Distribution: USA (AL, AR, AZ, CO, DC, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY), CAN (AB, BC, ON, SK)
Duration: Perennial
Growth Habit: Forb/herb

NATIONAL WETLAND INDICATOR STATUS

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU UPL FACU FACU FACU

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2016 National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.3 (Lichvar, R.W., D.L. Banks, W.N. Kirchner, and N.C. Melvin. 2016. The National Wetland Plant List: 2016 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2016-30: 1-17. Published 28 April 2016. ISSN 2153 733X). Regions: AGCP-Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, AK-Alaska, AW-Arid West, CB-Caribbean, EMP-Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, GP-Great Plains, HI-Hawaii, MW-Midwest, NCNE-Northcentral and Northeast, WMCV-Western Mountains, Valleys & Coast
WEAKLEY FLORA
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Allium cernuum
COMMON NAME: Nodding Onion
SYNONYMY: [= S, Va; < A. cernuum - C, F, FNA, G, Pa, RAB, W (also see A. allegheniense and/or A. oxyphilum); > A. cernuum var. cernuum - K]
PHENOLOGY: Jun-early Aug; Aug-Oct.
HABITAT: Generally in open woodlands or around outcrops of shale, mafic, ultramafic, or calcareous rocks, in the mountains at low elevations.
COMMENTS: NY, MI, MN, and BC, south to GA and AZ; the distribution is oddly fragmented into largely Rocky Mountain, Ozarkian, and Appalachian segments, and it is quite possible that cryptic taxa are involved. See discussion of A. oxyphilum at end of genus.
RANGE MAP: Allium cernuum.png

Key to Map Symbols.

ABOUT FAMILY (Weakley Flora)
Liliaceae A.L. de Jussieu 1789 (Lily Family)
SUMMARY: As here interpreted narrowly, the Liliaceae constitutes about 11 genera and 550 species, of the Northern Hemisphere. There has been much investigation and re-interpretation of evidence regarding the upper-level taxonomy of the Liliales, with strong suggestions that the broad Liliaceae recognized by Cronquist (1981) is artificial and polyphyletic. Cronquist (1981) himself concurs, at least to a degree: we still await a comprehensive reorganization of the lilies into several families more comparable to other recognized families of angiosperms. Dahlgren & Clifford (1982) and Dahlgren, Clifford, & Yeo (1985) synthesized an early phase in the modern revolution of monocot taxonomy. Since then, additional research, especially molecular (Duvall et al. 1993, Chase et al. 1993, Bogler & Simpson 1995, and many others more recently), has strongly validated the general lines (and many details) of Dahlgrens arrangement.
REFERENCE: Chen et al. (2013); Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (1998, 2003, 2009); Tamura in Kubitzki (1998a). [also see AGAVACEAE, ALLIACEAE, ALSTROEMERIACEAE, AMARYLLIDACEAE, ASPARAGACEAE, COLCHICACEAE, HELONIADACEAE, HEMEROCALLIDACEAE, HOSTACEAE, HYACINTHACEAE, HYPOXIDACEAE, MELANTHIACEAE, NARTHECIACEAE, RUSCACEAE, SMILACACEAE, THEMIDACEAE, TOFIELDIACEAE, TRILLIACEAE, XEROPHYLLACEAE]
ABOUT GENUS (Weakley Flora)
Allium Linnaeus 1753 (Onion, Garlic, Leek, Ramps, Chives)
SUMMARY: A genus of 500-700 species, herbs, of Eurasia, n. Africa, and North America (especially diverse in c. Asia).
REFERENCE: Mathew (1996)=Z; Rahn in Kubitzki (1998a); McNeal & Jacobsen in FNA (2002a). [also see Nothoscordum]
HERBARIUM RESOURCES
SERNEC: Find Allium cernuum in Southeast Regional Network of Experts and Collections (if available)
UNC SERNEC: Find Allium cernuum in University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium - Southeast Regional Network of Experts and Collections (if available)

WEB RESOURCES
USDA: Find Allium cernuum in USDA Plants
NPIN: Find Allium cernuum in NPIN Database
FNA: Find Allium cernuum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Allium cernuum

NCBG RECORD
ID IMAGE1: 8024
ID IMAGE2: 0
ID IMAGE3: 12273
Include in WOTAS: 1
Publish to Web: 1
Last Modified: 2017-11-18

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