Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the April 6, 2009 Newsletter, issued from near Natchez, Mississippi:

A very conspicuously flowering plant nowadays almost omnipresent in disturbed soils everywhere, especially roadsides and lawns with abused, sterile soil, is the False Garlic, NOTHOSCORDUM BIVALVE. This species' penny-size, white flowers and grassy leaves sprout from a Ground-Ivy carpeted spot in Karen's yard below:


False Garlic isn't a garlic at all but it's closely related to it as well as to the onions, and looks a lot like them. However, False Garlic doesn't have a garlicky odor. False Garlic, garlic and the onions all reside in the newly constituted Onion Family, the Alliaceae, and share the same general body form and inflorescence type, and all similarly sprout from bulbs. Before gene sequencing showed how unusual the group really is, False Garlic, garlic and the many onion species all resided in the Lily Family.

False Garlic, NOTHOSCORDUM BIVALVE, flower

Above you can see that False Garlic's flower is elegantly simple enough for you to get onto your hands and knees and admire it. At first glance it's like the "Standard Blossom" at http://www.backyardnature.net/fl_stand.htm used to explain basic flower structure because its parts are so distinct and easily recognizable.

See how the six male stamens composed of orangish, pollen-producing anthers atop sticklike filaments arise at the base of the six white "petals," with the female oval ovary nested in the middle, and topped by a stiff, slender style tipped with a knobby stigma. The main differences between False Garlic's flower and the Standard Blossom is that False Garlic's showy parts number six instead of the usual five, plus there is no distinct calyx and corolla. Calyx and corolla are merged into one corolla-like thing called a perianth; the "petals" of such a perianth are called "tepals."

Unlike most weedy plants, False Garlic is native American, mostly from the US Southeast and Mexico. Another name for False Garlic is Crow Poison. On the Web I find the plant labeled as poisonous but also there's a fellow who says that baked they're probably not "dangerously poisonous."