Wild garlic vs. Wild onion

Allium vineale L vs. Allium canadense L.

Life cycle

Perennial.

wild garlic
Wild garlic.

Leaves

Leaves of wild garlic are hollow and branch off the main stem. Leaves of wild onion are flat, not hollow, and emerge from the base of the plant. Leaves of both plants are thin, green and waxy, and can be confused with grasses when young.

Stems

Wild garlic stems occur singly, are hollow and branched into leaves. Wild onion stems occur in bunches, are not hollow and not branched. Both emit a garlic odor when crushed or cut.

wild garlic patch
Wild garlic plants.

Flowers and fruit

Wild garlic flowers may be green or purple; wild onion flowers are generally white or pink and are found on top of solid flowering stems. In both species, flowers are often replaced by aerial bulbs.

wild garlic seedhead
Wild garlic seedhead.

Reproduction

Aerial and underground bulblets primarily, occasionally seed. Wild garlic bulbs have a thin membranous covering. Wild onion bulbs have a net-veined covering.

wild garlic plant with bulb
Wild garlic plant with bulb.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.