Nodding Onion – Allium cernuum

Nodding Onion has pale pink to white nodding blooms mid to late summer. In late spring, the leaves send up a stem that develops a papered bud. The bud gradually opens as though the flowers are fighting their way out. It’s a season long show as later after the flowers fade in late summer, the long grass like leaves are nearly evergreen.


  • Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil: Well-drained, Dry, Difficult sites such as hot sun, gravel, and bordering pavement. Draught Resistant

Nodding Onion Height/Spread: 1-3 feet high/ 1-2 feet wide


  • Good source of nectar. Special value to native bees and other beneficial insects. The flowers are pollinated by small short-tongued bees, such as Halictid bees.
  • Attracts Butterflies, especially Hairstreak butterflies, and Hummingbirds.

Cultural History:

It’s known as Nodding Onion due to the way the flower bends over at the top of the stalk. The city of Chicago gets its name from the Algonquin name for this plant, chigagou. Many native peoples used it sparingly as a flavoring. Edible in small amounts, although all parts are mildly topic in large quantities.

Conservation Status:

NYS DEC PROTECTED PLANT – THREATENED – likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or in a significant portion of its range within the state. There is an introduced weed that looks similar: Allium vineale has upright rather than nodding flowers, and the leaves are about twice as tall as A. cernuum.