Vascular – Exotic
Herbs - Monocots
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Disturbed forest and shrubland, streamsides, herbfields, bare land. Especially after spraying or other clearance to bare land.
Perennial herb to about 60 cm, strong garlic smell. Bulbs to 10-15 mm diameter, with offset bulbs. Leaves 2-5, linear, fleshy, keeled, 20-60 cm long, with white papery sheaths. The leaves usually die back in late spring. Flower stalk is three-sided, 20-60 cm high, fleshy and soft, sheathed by leaves at the base. Flowers are bell-shaped, 10-15 mm long, 5 petalled, white with green stripe on the petals, on drooping stalks. Seed capsules 7 mm diameter containing small black seeds.
Can be separated from other species in the Allium genus by the sharply triangular stems. Leucojum aestivum and Nothoscordum inodorum are also similar but lack the garlic odour.
South West Europe, North Africa
allium: Possibly from the Latin word for garlic or the Celtic word all ‘pungent’ or ‘burning’
Reason For Introduction
Life Cycle Comments
Perennial. Tends to die back in late spring.
Reproduces by seed and vegetative reproduction
Many seeds are produced.
Seeds are wind dispersed. Bulbs can be dispersed by soil movement.
Very shade tolerant.
Foraging for onion weed
Click on the Radio New Zealand National logo to listen to This Way Up. Simon Morton interviews Johanna Knox about foraging for onion weed (duration: 12′34″)