Perennial herb with two to six bulbs flowering stem 10 - 20 cm tall Leaves: two or three, basal, nearly stalkless, 19 - 22 cm long, 1 - 2 or more cm wide, flat, lance-shaped to elliptical, dying back before flowering time. Inflorescence: an upright, more or less dome-shaped umbel of six to twenty-five flowers raised on a single narrow stalk and subtended by two, 1 - 2 cm long deciduous bracts. Flowers: white to cream-colored, 4 - 7 mm long, bell-shaped, with six tepals that remain even in fruit. Fruit: a three-lobed capsule. Bulbs: up to 4 cm tall, somewhat oval, and encased in a brownish or gray netlike coating.
Similar species: The leaves of Allium burdickii are gone by flowering time, which distinguishes this species from other Allium in the Chicago Region. The similar species, A. tricoccum differs by having longer leafstalks that are reddish and leaves that are wider.
Flowering: June to early July
Habitat and ecology: Common in woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: The name for the city of Chicago is derived from the Native American Miami-Illinois word "chicagoua," which means "striped skunk" and was also used in reference to the smelly wild leek, Allium burdickii or A. tricoccum. The Miami-Illinois commonly named rivers after conspicuous plants in a watershed. "Chicagoua" was their name for the Chicago River. This name was later adopted for the town located at the mouth of the river, Chicago, which was incorporated in 1833.
Etymology: Allium comes from the Latin word for garlic.
Smaller, the bulb mostly 1-1.5(-2) cm thick, the lvs (1.5-)2-4(-4.5) cm wide, less strongly or scarcely petiolate, the scape arising (10-)13-16(-18) cm, the bracts 1-2 cm, the fls (6-)10-18(-25), the fruiting pedicels 1-2 cm; not anthocyanic; widespread, but chiefly midwestern, extending e. to w. Me., N.J., and the mts. of N.C. and Tenn.; fl early, commonly June. (A. tricoccum var. burdickii)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Diagnostic Traits: strong-scented pungent herb; base of plants pale; leaves petiolate, flat, 1 cm wide or more, withering before plants flower; inflorescences a scapose simple umbel, larger umbels usually with fewer than 18 flowers.
This taxon is often treated as a well-defined variety of A. tricoccum.Alliumburdickii has narrower leaves (<2.5 cm wide), pale petioles, leaf sheaths, and stems. Alliumtricoccum leaves reach to over 4 cm wide and the plant is reddish at its base. Flowering times also differ: burdickii peaks in June while tricoccum peaks in July.