General: perennial herb with an onion- or garlic-like odor, flowering stem 20-60 cm tall, flattened and narrowly winged toward the top. Bulbs elongate, mostly less than 1 cm thick, at the end of a thick rhizome.
Leaves: 2 to several basal, plane, blunt-tipped, entire, 2-8 mm broad, much shorter than the stem, green at flowering time, persistent at maturity.
Flowers: 7 to 15 in a flat-topped umbel-cluster, stalks slender, about as long as the flowers at flowering time, becoming longer, stout and curved in fruit. Tepals 6, 10-13 mm long, lanceolate, pointed, entire, pink, withering in fruit, the midribs somewhat thickened. Bracts 2, united at base and often along one side, ovate, pointed, 3- to 5-nerved. Stamens about half the length of the tepals, the anthers short-oblong, blunt, yellowish. Ovary crestless, the style awl-shaped, rarely more than 3 mm long, stigma 3-cleft.
Fruits: capsules, broader than long, the valves cordate, distinctly notched. Seeds correspondingly short and thick, dull black.
Swampy meadows and along streams, rarely on wooded slopes at medium and high elevation, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from n.e. ID through WY to n.e. UT and CO.
The bulb and leaves of short-styled onion are edible, raw or cooked. The plant has thick iris-like rhizomes. The young and succulent leaves are relished by many animals. The flowers can also be eaten raw, and used as a garnish on salads.
A poultice of the ground root and stems, or an infusion of them, was used as a wash for carbuncles by the Cheyenne Indians. Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavor) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.
The juice of the plant has been used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.