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This plant is easy to identify because of the nodding habit of its umbels of flowers. Nodding umbels of flowers are an evolutionary adaptation that tends to restrict insect visitors to bees. Other insects are more reluctant to hang upside down while attempting to feed on nectar or pollen. The nodding habit may also protect the nectar from rain. Compared to 2 other species that are native, the Cliff Onion (Allium stellatum) and Wild Garlic (Allium canadense), Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) has wider leaves. Compared to the non-native Field Garlic (Allium vineale), Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), and Cultivated Onion (Allium cepa), the leaves of Nodding Onion are flattened and solid throughout, rather than hollow. Return

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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