There are several kinds of Chlorogalum. This odd plant springs from a big bulb, which is covered with coarse brown fiber and often shows above the ground. The leaves are sometimes over two feet long, with rippled margins, look like very coarse grass, and usually spread out flat on the ground. The plants are conspicuous and look interesting and we wonder what sort of flower is to come from them. Then some day in late summer we find that a rather ugly, branching stalk, four or five feet tall, has shot up from the center of the tuft of leaves. The branches are covered with bluish-green buds, and we watch with interest for the bloom, but we may easily miss it, for the flowers are very short-lived and come out only for a little while in the afternoons. In the lowlands the flowers are rather scattered and straggling, but in Yosemite they are lovely, close by. Each flower is an inch or more across and looks like an airy little lily, with six spreading divisions, white, delicately veined with dull-blue, and they are clustered along the branches, towards the top of the stalk, and bloom in successive bunches, beginning at the bottom. When they commence to bloom, the tips of the petals remain caught together until the last minute, when suddenly they let go and spring apart and all at once the dull stalk, like Aaron's rod, is adorned with several delicate clusters of feathery silver flowers. The thread-like style is slightly three-cleft at the tip and the capsule has one or two blackish seeds in each cell. The bulbs form a lather in water and are used as a substitute for soap by the Indians and Spanish-Californians, and as food by the Porno Indians, who cook them in great pits in the ground. Pomeridianum means "in the afternoon. "
Soap Plant Chlorogalum pomeridianum. LILY FAMILY. Liliaceae.
Wild Onions are easily recognized by their characteristic taste and odor. They mostly have coated bulbs; their leaves are long and narrow, from the base; the flower-stalk bears a roundish, bracted cluster of rather small, white, pink, or magenta flowers, on slender pedicels, their six divisions nearly alike and each with a stamen attached to its base. The bracts enclose the buds, before blooming, in a case and the capsule contains six, black, wrinkled seeds. There are numerous kinds, very widely distributed, not easily distinguished, some resembling Brodiaea, but the latter never smell of onion. Allium is the Latin for "garlic."