Asked on Apr 02, 2020

Is it OK to eat wild onions that grow in our yards?

by Louise

I read online that it is, as long as it IS onion growing and not garlic. The article said they'll smell like onions if that's what they are. It didn't mention any difference in appearance, however. I just pulled these from my yard and they do smell like onions. But I don't want to eat them if they'll harm me, so I thought I'd ask to be sure. When I first brought them inside, two of my cats went nuts over them since I didn't know how the plant would affect them, I put them on the deck for now. Then I read online that they're VERY toxic to cats -- any part of the plant is. It said most cats don't want to eat them but these two did. But good mom wouldn't let them have any. :-)

  22 answers
  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 02, 2020

    When I doubt keep it out but yes you can eat the onions and garlic you find growing in the wild. The wilderness is full of edible plants. Although we humans cultivate most of the things we eat, many of those things can also be found growing in the wilderness. Many other edible plants that humans never cultivated can be found, too.

    Onion grass belongs to a family of plants that grow from bulbs, collectively known as Amaryllidaceae. Within this family, the genus Allium can be found in agriculture and in the wild and includes not only onion grass but also shallots, scallions, onions, leeks, chives, and garlic—all of which are edible.

    There are some inedible Alliums and lookalikes, however—some that can even make you very sick or even kill you. So before you eat wild plants, it's important to educate yourself.

  • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Apr 02, 2020

    You absolutely can eat wild garlic and onions. May I ask why it says not to eat garlic?

    • See 1 previous
    • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Apr 06, 2020

      It might just be because garlic is a lot stronger than onion, so you might get more than you bargained for when eating it :)

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Apr 02, 2020

    Hi Louise,

    Yes, they are safe to eat!

    The ways to tell them apart is fairly easy. The garlic has it's distinct smell just like the onion.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 02, 2020

    There are some inedible Alliums and lookalikes, however—some that can even make you very sick or even kill you. So before you eat wild plants, it's important to educate yourself.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Apr 02, 2020

    Yes, you can eat both wild onion and garlic. What you have looks to me like scallions.

  • You could try the free app iNaturalist, take a photo and share it. You should get very accurate results.

  • Em Em on Apr 02, 2020

    Onions contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulphates which can be toxic cats and dogs if ingested. The ingestion of onions causes conditions called hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia, and methemoglobinemia which are all manifestation of damage to red blood cells.

    They are safe for you to eat. As is the garlic. I have a bunch that keeps coming back each year that I did not plant. The garlic scapes are also edible for you.

    Garlic belongs to the Allium family (which also includes onion, chives, and leeks) and is poisonous to dogs and cats. Garlic is considered to be about 5-times as potent as onion and leeks. ... While tiny amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large amounts can be very toxic.

    If your kitties want to eat something great plant a planter full of grass or better yet catnip for them.

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Apr 02, 2020

    Louise....I have always been told they are wild and should not be eaten.....

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Apr 02, 2020

    Louise: why take a chance? ...seems to be a trivial thing -- and not worth getting ill.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 02, 2020


    They look like Spring onions,Scallions! Could they have been part of a veg garden at some time?

    • Louise Louise on Apr 05, 2020

      It would have had to be many years ago. I've lived here over 30 years. But I've had these spring up every year and have always regarded them as weeds. These particular ones must have been growing longer than the usual ones I pull up because they look like grocery store spring onions. Others I've pulled up were smaller so I think I pulled those up before they'd matured.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Apr 03, 2020

    Feed them to a "Friend" first and if they survive you are good ;)

  • Jeandiedre Jeandiedre on Apr 03, 2020

    the way to tell the difference between wild onion and wild garlic is to look at the bulb area, the garlic has tiny cloves attached to eat. The chive like plants growing in your yard are edible. They taste good. They can be pickled or used to flavor broths or just chopped and added to dishes.

  • All excellent info here. Obviously you do not purchase green onions, (spring onions or scallions) depending on what part of the country or world you may live in. Chances are there was a garden in that spot at one time or one of your neighbors let theirs "go to seed" (the bees adore the flowers), and the wind blew or a wild animal deposited in your yard. Here are store bought for comparison. If they smell like onion, I would eat them, but that's me. Not everyone lives on the edge like I do.

  • Melinda Crowe Melinda Crowe on Apr 05, 2020

    Yes they not only smell great they taste great to

  • 17335038 17335038 on Apr 05, 2020

    Yes, depending on where you live, the perennial vegetable in your picture is called both green onions or scallions.

    Here is a short video explaining the official difference.

  • Ladybug Ladybug on Apr 09, 2020

    I am 80 years old and have eaten wild onions all my life. I always make sure they are cleaned properly and the outside skin is removed. Great in a salad or chopped for other dishes

  • Gamin Davis Gamin Davis on Apr 16, 2021

    I used to eat them all the time when I was growing up and never got sick, which is backed up by the research I've just been doing. Just be sure they don't have any purple, pink or blue on them. Those are not onions; they're apparently called "death callas". The all-green and white ones are fine.

  • Mogie Mogie on Aug 16, 2023

    Wild garlic has a round hollow stem, while wild onions have a flat solid stem. Both are edible and can be identified easily by their pungent garlic or onion smell when picked. An easy rule of thumb: if it doesn't smell like onion or garlic, don't eat it.

  • If you have any doubt, don't eat it. Consult someone who is knowledgeable in wild plants.

  • Betsy Betsy on Aug 18, 2023

    Hi Louise: Yes, you certainly can. I have it growing all over my yard, and I mean ALL OVER!, along with wild chives. I use them in my cooking, on salads and all sorts. So, enjoy :)

  • Dee Dee on Aug 18, 2023

    Absolutely I have them growing in my yard and even planted some in a pot. I use them for salads, soups, anything that requires an onion and they are delicious.