A pungent onion scent in eastern forests and meadows often indicates the presence of wild onions (Allium canadense, Liliaceae). While superficially resembling grass, digging up these plants can reveal their identity. Although there are several wild onions in this area, the species shown here can be identified by the brown fibers surrounding the bulb:
Wild onions prefer moist or even wet soil, and I frequently find them in a floodplain forest in southeast Michigan. These plants don’t look like much now, but with enough sunlight they’ll form umbels of showy pink flowers on their stalks.