Small onion is one of those lovely little wildflowers that find you on your knees, leaning forward to get a close-up look. Native to the western United States, small onion is most often found growing on slopes or ridges in rocky gravels, talus, clay, or seasonally moist scablands. In the Klamath-Siskiyou region it can be found at low, mid and high elevations and is adaptable to different geologic substrates and vegetation communities.
Only reaching a maximum of two to four inches in height, small onion generally has white flowers tinged with pink, but sometimes the flowers are fully pink. The flowers often have prominent dark midveins and the anthers are purple or yellow, but the pollen is always yellow. The umbel flower clusters can have 5-30 flowers per cluster. Small onion blooms in the spring, generally April to June, depending on the elevation. The flowers are pollinated by bees, including bumble bees and other pollinating insects.
Small onion grows from an egg-shaped bulb and has two sickle-shaped green leaves that wither as the flower goes to seed. Since it grows from a bulb, small onion is a geophyte. Geophytes are plants typically with underground storage organs, where the plants hold energy and water.
Small onion will prefer part shade to full sun with medium to dry soil moisture. Small onion can dry out in late summer and go dormant after setting seed. Summer drought conditions are preferred in mid to late summer.
Small onion has the fragrance of onions and has traditionally been used by some Native American tribes as a food and flavoring.
Allium parvum seed packets are packaged with 1/8 teaspoon of seed, which is approximately 160 seeds.
Seed Germination Instructions
Sow seeds outside in fall to early winter. Just barely cover the seeds with with a thin layer of soil and keep the seeds moist after sowing.