Posts Tagged Onion Grass

Autumn Greens

Autumn Greens . . .

November: Impressionist Greens (Lichen & Moss)

The language of autumn so often goes to “russet glows” and ‘the tang” conveyed by the leaves, shed, and drying to curls, colors bright of yellow, orange, and red leading to brown.

November, the fleeting, waning of an Equinox, allows a continuity to the growing season when as wet as has been this year. Look closer to see lingering to lushness of veins of rich green nestled within all this glowing russet bed.

Green in the the moss and the lichen feasting on some of the clearest damp air of the year.

Green is the onion grass bathed by the sunset, light framed and focused by a high line of underglowed cloud stretched across the horizon of the Hudson.

Wildflowers in the West Village.

— rPs 11 30 2018

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February Flowers Green

February Flowers Green . . .

Manhattan Lichen 02 2016

Manhattan Lichen,  Candelariella and Cladonia. (02 2016)

Wind may be heard in the ears on the first afternoon, followed by daylight hours of stillness. Snow melts under scattered showers over a few overcast February days. Water, cold and clean, drips and drops over rocks, down trunks, and brings early green into bloom in Manhattan.

Soft light from a variegated gray sky gives conditions bright for the Lichens, Candelariella and Cladonia. The wash over stones swells cracks as well as sustains the Moss, Leucobryum:

Leucobryum Moss 02 2016

Pin Cushion Moss, Leucobryum, NYC. (02 2016)

 

Some views are so rendered by nature to appear as Art in itself that should be viewed but not walked upon. Take in a lawn sprinkled with the bristled iron brown fruits of the Sweetgum, Liquidambar, then move along. The Path: the fact, like the philosophy, when followed keeps the pristine that way.

Sweetgum Grove 02 2016

Sweetgum Grove, NYC. (02 2016)

 

Wet and gloomy, perhaps the middle of Winter can affect some psyche’s in that manner. The difference comes as the following days see a break, often bright and breezy, marking the conclusion of a February rain cycle, as did this one in 2016. Afterward, bedded in oak leaf litter, the Onion Grass, Romulea, stands refreshed, as does the viewer, the person turned away from interior and exterior screens and instead focused on the living open air found outside during February in Manhattan.

Onion Grass 02 2016

Onion Grass in the Oak Leaves, NYC. (02 2016)

 

– rPs 02 22 2016

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February’s Foliage

February’s Foliage . . .

Onion Grass (genus Allium) provides a small splash of color near Eighth Avenue. (photo taken 02 26 2013)

Onion Grass (genus Allium) provides a small splash of color near Eighth Avenue. (photo taken 02 26 2013)

The second month of the year has taken the “cold” portion of the phrase “long, cold winter” to an extreme: snow, some; wind, more; and cold, constant. This state of the air has locked the West Village and the rest of the region in hibernation. White, grey, and brown remain the dominant colors found in the parks and gardens of New York.

Absent this year are the blooming snowdrops and common chickweed often found in abundance along the mid-Atlantic during the latter half of the winter season. The only wild plant that has weathered the weather appears to be Onion Grass (genus Allium), which, as I reported way back in 2010, remains ensconced along the cobbled walls of Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle at the intersection of West Fourth and Eighth Avenues. The sight of this great piece of green sustains the fundamentally optimistic nature of my urban naturalist’s mood. I realize that the time and temperatures for the spring bloom should arrive by the end of March.

– rPs 02 27 2013

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Ode to Onion Grass

Ode to Onion Grass . . .

 

Tufts of a deeper green

Claim the slumbering brown

Where new grass has not yet grown.

Spreading, sporadic and nomadic,

Over several seasons;

Flowers not, yet blooming,

The body itself a blossom

Beside trees, before walls,

Despite groundskeepers’ calls to arms

Against this perennial opponent.

Traditionally, family lily:

Bulbs, pale and rooted;

Shoots, almost evergreen;

Sprout into sight at the start

Of Spring’s annual work of Art;

Create great pieces of turf,

As Albrecht Durer saw it;

Draw a still life upon every lawn.

Kneeling down, taste takes over.

Savor the favor of their flavor

In hand, in soup, in stew.

Grazing as children, we knew

Those tangy and spicy moments,

Sinuses filled, now with memory

Of wild garlic, of chives,

Of onion grass.

Onion grass growing in Hudson River Park during the spring of 2010 resembles Albrecht Durer’s watercolor “The Great Piece of Turf” painted in 1503. (photo taken April 1, 2010)

 

One of the first hints of spring’s return, onion grass is a perennial harbinger of the new growing season. The plant’s thin, fleshy, almost everygreen leaves punctuate lawns and rejuvenate waste places before grass and other garden greenery grows into full gear.

Onion grass is an immigrant from Europe; a member of the genus Allium, more commonly known as the onions. This group of root vegetables was first cultivated by the Bronze Age Egyptians and became a staple of the Greek and Roman diet, especially amongst the gladiators and other althletes of Antiquity. Later, the Roman became the Italian, but the onion remained on the regional menu. One Italian of note, Christopher Columbus, was the first to introduce the vegetable to North America. Other varieties followed. Some were cultivated, some were domesticated and went feral, a few simply invaded and somehow took root.

Onion grass is a general folk name, culled from the appearance and olfactory qualities, which has been applied like a quilt over a loose group of wild plants. There is an actual invasive species called onion grass (Romulea rosia), which is ironically the one member not found within the genus Allium. The others, such as chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and crow garlic (Allium vineale), are true onions; a mix of natives and immigrants. The connection linking all of these plants can be traced higher up the scientific classification ladder at the rung of Order, Asparagales.

The West Village, not known for its wide lawns and devoid of vacant green lots, still hosts a few scattered colonies of onion grass. Specimens have been spotted growing along the walls of Reggie Fitzgerald Triangle, the gardens of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, and Hudson River Park. In each case the plants have blended into the landscape as well as any other ornamental.

All of the onion grass species appear similar at a casual glance — clumps of sturdy, dark green blades not unlike crab grass. The senses of touch and smell provide more nuance. The rubbery texture and pungent aroma is quickly perceived when such a plant is rubbed or picked. Differentiating the various members by sight alone early in the season takes time and practice. The easiest method is to wait until the plants flower. Unfortunately, most private and public park lawns are mowed far too often for this natural fruition to occur.

— rPs 04 09 2010

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