Entry Detail

Allium cernuum Roth
nodding wild onion


Entry Type:  
Species
Scientific Name:  
Allium cernuum Roth
Common Name:  
nodding wild onion
Myaamia Name:  
wiinhsihsia
Description:  
The cultural information for this entry refers to both Allium stellatum and Allium cernuum: both are considered to be referred to by the term wiinhsihsia, or by translation of 'wild onion' or 'onion'

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
Blair, E 1911 Use - Food 

"This onion, I say, is so exceedingly acrid that, if one tried to swallow it, it would all at once wither the tongue, the throat, and the inside of the mouth, I do not know, however, whether it would have the same injurious effect on the inside of the body. But this difficulty hardly ever occurs, for as soon as one takes it into the mouth he spits it out, and one imagines that it is a certain wild garlic, which is quite common in the same places, and has also an insupportable acridness. When the savages lay in a store of these onions, with which the ground is covered, they first build on oven, upon which they place the onions, covering them with a thick layer of grass, and by means of the heat which the fire communicates to them the acrid quality leaves them, nor are they damaged by the flames, and after they have been dried in the sun they become an excellent article of food. Their abundance, however, counts for nothing, although the agreeable taste which one finds in them often induces him to satisfy his appetite with them, for nothing in the world is more indigestible and more nourishing. You feel a load on your chest, your belly as hard as a drum, and colic pains which last two or three days. When one is forewarned of this effect, he refrains from eating much of this root. I speak from experience, having been taken unawares by it, and after the distress which I experienced from it I have no longer any desire to taste it".

This entry possibly refers to an Allium sp. and if so, probably Allium canadense, but could be another species, especially considering the digestive distress described by Perrot which is unlikely from wild onions. – Michael Gonella
Rafert, S. 1992 Use - Food 

Wild onion (A. vineale) [sic] was used as a spring tonic for maintaining good health.

Gravier, J. ca. 1700 Use - Food 

"I pick, clean, and peel an onion".

Masthay, C. 2002 Use - Medicinal 

"8iscapesi8a", or wiihkapesiwa, "small onions good for stopping dysentery"

Masthay assigns this word to Allium canadense or A. cernuum (as per John F. Swenson 1991), but is possibly A. stellatum or another Allium species. – Michael Gonella
Rafert, S. 1996 Use - Food 

Myaamia families had favorite wild onion gathering areas.

Aatotankiki myaamiaki 1998-2006 Use - Food 

Barbara Mullins mother, Julia Lankford picked wild onions every spring for a wild onion and egg meal, consisting of wild onions, eggs, bacon grease and salt. Barbara still cooks this, using green onions for wild ones.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Food 

Mable Olds Leonard picked poke and wild onions for cooking

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Food 

Wild onions were gathered and eaten as greens rather than for the bulbs. Onions were gathered this year.

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900 Use - Food 

"The wild onion is still eaten by the Miamis as an early vegetable, but without this formidable preparation. They are washed, cut fine, and fried in grease until they wilt, then a little water is added, with salt, pepper and enough flour to cream. This removes the acrid taste".

Dunn, J.P. 1919 Use - Food 

"When the savages lay in a store of these onions, with which the ground is covered, they first build an oven, upon which they place the onions, covering them with a thick layer of grass, and by means of the heat which the fire communicates to them the acrid quality leaves them, nor are they damaged by the flames, and after they have been dried in the sun they become an excellent article of food".

Anonymous 1837 Related Info 

wild onions

Gleason, H.A. and Cronquist, A. 1991 Description 

Occurs in various habitats, prairies, open, dry or rich woods.

Tar Creek Superfund Report 2003 Use - Food 

Wild onion corms are gathered and used.

Botanical Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Dunn, J.P. 1919 Habitat

"The tribes of the prairies also find in certain places lands that are fertile, and kept moist by the streams that water them, whereon grow onions of the size of ones thumb".

Related Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
McCafferty, M. 2003  

The city name Chicago, originates from the Miami-Illinois word šikaakwa, meaning striped skunk, which is also the word for Allium tricoccum or other common, similar Allium species. Chicago "is a perfect example of this very practical, fundamental kind of botanically oriented place name. It indicated in that local watershed was a signficant patch of wild onions, perhaps indicating a 'smelly' place: onions/skunk.

Pease, T. C. and R. C. Werner 1934  

"They also store up onions, as big as Jerusalem artichokes, which they find in the prairies, and which I find better than all the other roots. They are sugary and pleasing to the palate. They are cooked like macopines" (Original French: "Elles amassent aussi des oignons gros comme des Topiniamboures, qu'elles trouvent dans les prairies que je trouve meilleures que toutes les autres Racines, ils sont sucre et font plaisir a manger on les fait cuire comme les Macopines").

Tulsa World Newspaper 2003  

Due to lead, cadmium and zinc contamination in the Tar Creek Superfund Sites watershed around Miami, Oklahoma and the Miami Tribe of Oklahomas headquarters, Miami and other local tribal members worry that traditional gathering of food, medicine and customs items may be contaminated. Fish, wild blackberries, sassafras, pokeweed, basket-making supplies and wild onions could have high concentrations of lead, as do the waters of nearby lakes, and it is not always successful keeping tribal members out of these areas. The Seneca-Cayugas berry dance could not be held if all the wild blackberries and strawberries in the area are found to be contaminated.

Baldwin, D 1997  

Lora Siders recalled the legend that one of the greatest Myaamia cities was on the shores of the big lake near the onion patch [this was presumably Chicago, named after the word meaning onion patch or stinking place], where the son of the Great Spirit walked with the Myaamia on sands by the big lake at the onion patch. She believed this to have been confirmed when archaeologists found a ancient city at New Lennox near Chicago with remains of two skeletons identified as Myaamia.

 

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006  

Allium stellatum and A. cernuum are the likely species referred to by this Myaamia word. A. stellatum is listed as prairie wild onion by Coulter (1899), as wild onion by Steyermark (1963) and without a common name by Gleason and Cronquist (1991). A. cernuum is listed as nodding wild onion in by Coulter, Steyermark, and Gleason and Cronquist, and without a common name by Small (1903).

Clark, J.E 1993  

The Shawnee collected this plant.

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900  

The Miami term "cikakwa" was formerly used for the wild onion by the Myaamia and other Algonquians. Now the word is only used for 'skunk'.