What is Onion Grass / Wild Garlic?


If you are here, you are probably wondering what is those tall grass-like stalks rising above my turf grass? Does it smell of onions or garlic when mowed? Well then, you’re in the right place!

Wild Garlic or Onion Grass is a common lawn weed during early Spring and Fall, but dormant in the summer. It grows best during cooler seasons, which is why you notice it as your grass is growing slowly or dormant during these times. Also known as Field Garlic, it is a prolific invasive weed introduced from Europe during colonial times.

Wild Garlic Scientific Name

The Scientific Name of Wild Garlic is Allium vineale

Also known as Crow Garlic, Allium vineale is often confused with other members of the Allium genus including Wild Onion (Allium canadense) and (Allium Ursinum).

Physical Description of Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic is a herbaceous perennial that grows up to 3′ tall (if allowed). However it is generally 1′ or less, as it is constantly getting mowed when growing in people’s lawns.

Leaves/Stalk

The linear leaves of Wild Garlic is smooth and dark green, while at the base is white in color. The leaves resemble stalks, and are round, hollow and smell of garlic when cut or crushed.

If one attempts to pull the leaves/stalk, it generally will break off at the ground level. This mechanism ensures the plant’s survival, and a new leaf/stalk will regrow.

wild garlic stem hollow
Wild garlic – note the hollow stem.

Flower

A small red cluster of bulblets or flowers appears on the top of the stalk/stem. Eventually these blublets or flowers will split open and release seeds. If flowers formed, then seeds are dispersed by wind.

Root

The root is a small white bulb with secondary roots. The secondary roots can form new bulblets, generated a new plant.

Why do we only see Wild Garlic in Spring and Fall?

Wild Garlic actively grows when temperatures are above freezing, but not hot. The bulbs are dormant in the dead of winter, and above ground foliage stops once Spring changes to Summer. [1]

Control

There are several ways to control Wild Garlic / Onion Grass. We’ve written about all ways to remove them thoroughly here. However, our favorite method that is organic, and effective is here:

PIN IT FOR LATER:

References:

[1] Dormancy and Sprouting Cycles of Wild Garlic. J. F. Stritzke and E. J. Peters. Weed Science Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan., 1970), pp. 112-114 (3 pages)

Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over six years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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