Asphodelus fistulosus

Name and classification

Asphodelus fistulosus L.
Family Liliaceae

Common names

onionweed, asphodelus, wild onion

Disseminule

seed

Description

Fruit a 3-segmented capsule, 1 to 2 seeds per segment. Seeds sectoroid, (2.5)2.8–3.5 mm long, 1.5–2.2 mm wide, 1–2 mm thick, triangular to sector-shaped in cross section, with sharp edges. Two flat faces with 2 to 3 or more dents or cavities on each, back side convex with about 4 transverse dents or cavities. Testa dull, light to dark grey and light brown to black. Additionally some seeds may have a faint to distinct black stripe down each flat face. Surface distinctly pebbled. Hilum inconspicuous. Embryo axile-linear, extending from one pole nearly to the other; endosperm readily visible.

Identification considerations

Some authors consider Asphodelus fistulosus L. to be a distinct species from Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav., while others consider the two to be synonymous. (This fact sheet considers the two distinct.) Additionally, Asphodelus fistulosus var. tenuifolius (Cav.) Baker has been named a synonym of Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav.

Similar species

Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav. (non-FNW)

Distribution

Mediterranean region east through the Arabian peninsula to the Indian subcontinent; also in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, and United States

native to the Mediterranean region

Habitat

dry, sandy, and rocky places; a weed of pastures, roadsides, waste places

General information

Asphodelus fistulosus is an annual or perennial herb, up to 30 cm tall. Infestation may significantly reduce the carrying capacity of pasture, as it is not eaten by livestock. This species can be controlled by cultivation; it does not grow well on land that is regularly worked. The plant occurs in a few places in the U.S., but no infestations have been reported.

seeds

seeds

ventral view (top) and lateral view (bottom) of seeds

ventral view (top) and lateral view (bottom) of seeds

dorsal view of seeds

dorsal view of seeds

surface detail of seed

surface detail of seed

A–B, seed in two views; C, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; D, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

A–B, seed in two views; C, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; D, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

capsule (dehisced, seeds released)

capsule (dehisced, seeds released)

capsule (dehisced, seeds released)

capsule (dehisced, seeds released)