E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Allium cernuum Roth
Nodding Onion
Amaryllidaceae (Lily family)
(Previously in Liliaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Gary Lewis  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5313)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Allium cernuum
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from an elongate, long-necked, narrowly egg-shaped, scaly bulb, the outer scales membranous, without a fibrous network, the inner scales faintly pinkish, the bulbs often clustered; flowering stems erect but down-curved near the top, 10-50 cm tall, slender, often somewhat angled, smooth.
Basal leaves several per bulb, linear, flat to channeled, shorter than the flowering stem, about 3 mm wide, smooth, the margins entire or minutely toothed; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence a compact, terminal, nodding umbel of several to many, stalked flowers, above 2 membranous bracts, the stalks 1-3 cm long, the bracts soon deciduous; flowers pink to rose-purple or whitish, bell-shaped, of 6 distinct tepals, the tepals 4-6 mm long, elliptic-egg-shaped, blunt; stamens 6, exserted; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Capsules, more or less egg-shaped, 3-lobed, with 6 crests, 2 on each lobe; seeds 6 or fewer, dull-black.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic rocky bluffs, grassy slopes, meadows and open forests in the lowland and steppe to subalpine zones; common in BC south of 56degreeN; E to ON and S to NY, NC, GA, MS, TX, WY, UT, ID and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Allium cernuum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 122 1117 2400
Slope Gradient (%) 0 33 244
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 192 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(21), BG(127), BWBS(5), CDF(3), CWH(1), ESSF(182), ICH(53), IDF(855), IMA(1), MS(213), PP(154), SBPS(10), SBS(57)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, montane to subalpine, transcontinental North American forb. Occurs on nitrogen-medium, water-shedding sites within boreal, temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Its occurrence decreases with increasing precipitation and latitude. Occasional in early-seral communities on shallow soils of rock outcrops; frequently inhabits exposed mineral soils. Characteristic of summer-dry temperate and mesothermal forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References