Facts about onion weed
An invasive and persistent edible weed, onion weed spreads by small bulbs breaking away from the mother bulb. It is easily identifiable by its distinctive garlic or onion-like smell. All parts are edible and it can be used like a baby leek or spring onion.
Onion weed grows in waste sites, along roadsides and in undernourished gardens. It has slender light green strap-like leaves, thinner than garlic chives. The small, pure white, drooping flower are like snowdrops, with a green stripe down the middle of each of the five petals.
It can form a dense carpet of foliage suppressing other plants. In Autumn it dies back, absorbing nutrients into the bulb, ready for regrowth in spring
Managing onion weed
- Getting rid of it takes time and patience without the use of poison.
- Whenever you see the plant, remove all foliage by cutting below the soil level. This weakens the plant and help prevent regrowth.
- Mulch heavily so the leaves cannot get sunlight to photosynthesise. The plants will eventually starve and die.
- Mow it if you can and feed the grass. The grass will smother the onion weed.
- If choosing to dig it out, do so in late winter or early spring when it starts to flower. Do not shake the soil off in case you dislodge the small baby bulbs. Only burn or bin the bulbs and roots. Do not add to compost heap.
- Some breeds of goat, such as cashmere and boer cross, love eating it.
- Some gardeners have learned to live with it!
Advantages of onion weed
- Eating the cut greens is a sustainable way of disposal. Chop onion weed into mashed potato, soup and stock.
- Flowers give salads an attractive lift and a subtle onion flavour.
- Can be used for pesto and in smoothies, in scrambled egg and chopped to flavour butter.
- It is a great living mulch or ground cover in the cooler months.
Health benefits of onion weed
This hardy weed:
- contains sulphur
- helps reduce blood cholesterol levels
- stimulates the circulatory system
- contains valuable chlorophyll, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- helps protect you from colds and flu in the winter months.
A thought to ponder: could the gardener’s worst enemy, the onion weed, become our best friend? Maybe this weed can be used as an organic insecticide.
Other pages of interest: