False Garlic

Nothoscordum bivalve


Photo of false garlic flowers
Julianna Schroeder

Liliaceae (lilies)


Flowers arise on separate stalks arising from the same point at the top of a tall, leafless stalk; 6 tepals (petals and sepals combined) look alike, white, yellowish, or greenish. Blooms March-May; sometimes flowers again in October-November. Leaves basal, grasslike (flattened, not hollow), lower than flowers. Rootstock a bulb. Although false garlic looks like an onion or garlic plant, it does not have the characteristic odor.


Height: to about 10 inches.


Photo of false garlic plant
False Garlic (Plant)


Photo of false garlic flowers
False Garlic (Flowers)

False Garlic in Ballwin, MO

False Garlic in Ballwin, MO
False Garlic in Ballwin, MO
False Garlic in Ballwin, MO
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in glades, ledges, prairies, stream banks, and openings of upland forests. Found on both acidic and calcareous substrates. This species is found nearly throughout the eastern United States and south to South America.

image of False Garlic distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Nearly statewide. Less common north of the Missouri River and apparently absent from the Mississippi Lowlands except for Crowley's Ridge.

Human connections

Another name for this plant is "crow poison." It is unknown whether or not this plant is actually poisonous to crows or even to humans, and it's not listed as an edible plant either. It is a good idea not to eat any part of it. Instead, enjoy it for its beauty!

Ecosystem connections

Many different flowers grow in our prairies, and this is one of them. At first glance, a native prairie looks like "just a lot of grass," but as this plant shows, not all are truly grasses. There can be over 200 species of plants in even a small tallgrass prairie.