So, Can You Eat Wild Onion for Survival?

Being in a survival situation means you’ll be responsible for providing your own food over time, and even when your supplies of stored food for the purpose run out, the necessity of eating will show no mercy.

wild onion purple flower

Accordingly, it is a good idea for all preppers to be intimately familiar with various foods that they can get out in nature, both animals and plants.

Making a mistake and eating something dangerous could prove to be the last thing you’ll ever do. It is in your best interest to learn as much as you can about wild edibles now, before trouble strikes.

Let us consider wild onions. Can you eat wild onions to survive?

Yes, you can eat wild onions to survive. Generally nutritious, though a meager source of calories, they are a common and reliable option for food, but you must be cautious of several deadly look-alikes.

Where Do Wild Onions Grow?

Wild onions are a plant that is endemic and native to Eastern North America, ranging from all parts of the Deep South including Florida up into Canada and across much of the Midwest.

It is widely naturalized elsewhere, however, and you have a good chance of encountering it almost anywhere on the continent and even throughout the Caribbean.

it is a rugged plant capable of growing in virtually all environments throughout its range, but is especially common in meadowlands, forests, and other areas with dense or intermittent vegetation.

Wild onions, despite the name, or also routinely cultivated and gardens across North America and even around the world, where they are used, as their name suggests, for eating as with any other onion.

Consider looking for them in abandoned gardens and other plots where you might find them growing densely.

Nutrient Content

Accurate nutritional information for wild onions is difficult to come by and also erratic, but it generally compares favorably with other onions, leeks, and chives.

Wild onions are known to contain a reasonable complement of both vitamins and minerals, with a decent selection of B complex vitamins and in particular vitamin B6, but also a good amount of folate and lesser amounts of vitamins B3, B2, and B1.

Vitamin C is also present in abundance, making wild onions a reasonable option for staving off scurvy.

The mineral complement is not quite as good, but still respectable, with manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium being the standouts here, along with potassium, zinc iron, and calcium.

Wild onions console provide just a little bit of protein and a few carbs, but they don’t provide much in the way of calories.

How Do Wild Onions Taste?

Wild onions taste, as the name suggests, very much like onions. The fragrance is typically quite strong, though the taste is variably milder or harsher compared to common grocery store onions.

Notably, some species, which are still completely safe to eat, taste more strongly of garlic than onions.

Also note that the entire plant, including the succulent-like fronds growing out of the bulb, is completely edible and nutritious, and it is entirely safe to pull the plant, clean it off and then eat it raw as is for a quick snack.

Are Wild Onion Bulbs Safe to Eat?

Yes. The bulb of the wild onion is the part that lends both the taste and the fragrance to the plant.

Note that, depending on the exact species, the bulb can vary in appearance and color. More on that in a minute…

Before eating, peel away the fibrous coating surrounding the bulb and discard it. That’s not edible, it sure doesn’t taste good, has a nasty texture, and offers almost no nutrition.

Are Wild Onion Leaves Safe to Eat?

Yes. The long, slender and firm leaves growing out of the bulb of the wild onion are completely safe to eat in their entirety, and they can make a great complement to a salad or just help bulk up a meal of other wild-sourced edibles.

How About Wild Onion Roots?

Yes, you can eat wild onion roots. Wild Onion roots, like every other part of the plant, are not toxic and safe to eat. Make sure you clean the dirt off of them first!

How to Identify and Pick Wild Onion

Are There Risks Associated with Eating Wild Onion?

Yes. Onions, including wild onions, have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people after handling or consumption.

Sweating, itching, swelling, blurry vision, shortness of breath, and even anaphylactic shock are all possible symptoms of an allergic reaction to onions. This is due to the presence of certain proteins in the plants.

Further, some individuals do not experience allergic reactions after the onions have been thoroughly cooked, although this is not guaranteed.

If you have any doubts about whether or not you have an onion allergy, get tested or perform the standard field and ability test on any wild onions before consuming them, especially in quantity!

Also, eating any wild edible plant generally increases your risk of contracting foodborne illness unless the strictest care is paid to cleaning and preparation.

Although routinely eaten raw, this dramatically increases the chance that you’ll contract some type of food poisoning, with listeriosis being particularly common.

Regardless of what germ causes the food poisoning, crushing stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea is going to severely and rapidly dehydrate you and deplete your electrolytes, and further increase the chances that you’ll come into contact with even worse germs.

If you are already in a bad position or bad health, this might be enough to push things past the tipping point and kill you.

For this reason, you should always wash and cook wild onions if you have any opportunity to do so.

Also, you must be extremely careful when gathering wild onions because all species have several extremely poisonous look-alike plants that can kill you if eaten. More on that in the next section.

Warning: Wild Onions Have Poisonous Lookalikes in Nature

Wild onions, Allium canadense, are entirely safe and healthy to eat. However, all throughout its range exist several dangerous and potentially deadly look-alike plants, most noticeably the death camas, Anticlea elegans.

There are ways to tell the two plants apart, but lacking expert knowledge and a lot of confidence it is very easy to get them mixed up with potentially lethal results.

Wild Onion vs Poisonous Lookalike (Death Camas)

A few small bulbs of death camas to make an adult human in good health gravely sick or even kill them, so this is not something you can afford to get wrong.

This is because the death camas contain toxic alkaloids, most notably zygacine, which attacks the nervous system.

Shortly after ingestion, loss of coordination, trouble walking or standing, slurring speech, nausea, and vomiting will begin. Not long after that, an arrhythmia occurs. Significant doses are fatal.

This plant has long been a scourge of foragers and settlers who have mistaken it for harmless wild onion, and it is well known among farmers whose grazing and browsing livestock periodically fall victim to it.

Suffice it to say, before eating any wild plant you must obtain expert knowledge of exactly what you are dealing with, including knowledge of all dangerous or deadly look-alikes.

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