Skip to main content
Reservations recommended. Reserve tickets here.
Skip to main content

Twincrest Onion

Scientific Name:
Allium bisceptrum
Family:
Native Name(s):
  1. Northern Paiute: Badi'si (Kelly 1932), padüs (Fowler 1989)
Description:

Plant

Allium bisceptrum is a perennial herb that grows 10 to 40 cm tall from a bulb. Short-stalked, ovoid bulblets are often clustered around the base of the bulb. This species of onion is many flowered with 1 to 2 umbels which are lilac to pale pink to white. The seeds are black. It blooms from May to July.

Identification Tips

Allium bisceptrum can be distinguished from the closely related A. campanulatum by appearance during floral anthesis and when fruiting. A. bisceptrum leaves are green during anthesis and the perianth segments are usually papery in the fruit whereas A. campanulatum leaves are withering during anthesis and the perianth segments are rigid in the fruit.

Starch Granules

Starch granules from this species are sparse and were not observed in seeds or bulbs.

Habitat:

Allium bisceptrum occurs between 2000 and 2900 m in elevation within streambanks, meadows, and aspen groves.

Distribution:

This species grows on the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada from Klamath County, Oregon to Inyo County, California and along the Pit River to Shasta County, California. It has also been found in the eastern desert ranges across Nevada, Idaho, and Utah.

Ethnography:

The bulbs of Allium bisceptrum are gathered in the spring and can be eaten raw or roasted and are typically consumed fresh.

As food
Northern Paiute: "Badi'si (A. bisceptrum Wats.) and pani'si (A. platycaule Wats.) were treated the same as gü'ka' but their bulbs were more highly regarded." (Kelly 1932:102)

Northern Paiute: "Joshua stated that the digging stick was not required in gathering wild onions; "they just pulled them up with the hands."  He said that such bulbs were cooked in small quantities by being placed between two heated rock slabs until soft.  According to him, "They were all fresh.  They never made your belly ache, your tooth ache, or your head ache; no, nothing.  They all ate them." My notes do not mention drying the brodiaea or any of the wild onions, and in view of Chamberlin's observation, its seems likely that they were not so treated." (Kelly 1932:102)

Northern Paiute: "[In regards to the roots of padüs (onion, Allium bisceptrum)] padüs is a grass about 5 in. tall.  This grows in the canyons under willows.  It is gathered early in the spring.  It tastes like wild onion.  It is eaten raw and is not preserved.  It is better when eaten fresh." (Fowler 1989:44)

Pit River: "Then in the less swampy areas or in the uplands adjacent to the valleys are found the epos root, wild garlic, wild turnip, wild buckwheat, all highly regarded as food." (Kniffen 1928:301-302) 

Distribution Map: