Capsule of Allium oreophilum. The genus Allium (alliums) is characterised by herbaceous geophyte perennials with true bulbs, some of which are borne on rhizomes, and an onion or garlic odor and flavor.The bulbs are solitary or clustered and tunicate and the plants are perennialized by the bulbs reforming annually from the base of the old bulbs, or are produced on the ends of rhizomes or, in a few species, at the ends of stolons. A small number of species have tuberous roots. The bulbs' outer coats are commonly brown or grey, with a smooth texture, and are fibrous, or with cellular reticulation. The inner coats of the bulbs are membranous. Many alliums have basal leaves that commonly wither away from the tips downward before or while the plants flower, but some species have persistent foliage. Plants produce from one to 12 leaves, most species having linear, channeled or flat leaf blades. The leaf blades are straight or variously coiled, but some species have broad leaves, including A. victorialis and A. tricoccum. The leaves are sessile, and very rarely narrowed into a petiole. The flowers, which are produced on scapes are erect or in some species pendent, having six petal-like tepals produced in two whorls. The flowers have one style and six epipetalous stamens; the anthers and pollen can vary in color depending on the species. The ovaries are superior, and three-lobed with three locules. The fruits are capsules that open longitudinally along the capsule wall between the partitions of the locule. The seeds are black, and have a rounded shape. The terete or flattened flowering scapes are normally persistent. The inflorescences are umbels, in which the outside flowers bloom first and flowering progresses to the inside. Some species produce bulbils within the umbels, and in some species, such as Allium paradoxum, the bulbils replace some or all the flowers. The umbels are subtended by noticeable spathe bracts, which are commonly fused and normally have around three veins. Some bulbous alliums increase by forming little bulbs or "offsets" around the old one, as well as by seed. Several species can form many bulbils in the flowerhead; in the so-called "tree onion" or Egyptian onion (A. × proliferum) the bulbils are few, but large enough to be pickled. Many of the species of Allium have been used as food items throughout their ranges. There are several poisonous species that are somewhat similar in appearance (e.g. in North America, death camas, Toxicoscordion venenosum), but none of these has the distinctive scent of onions or garlic.
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Bulb, Edible, Herbaceous Perennial, Poisonous
Flowers are small, 6-parted, in a cluster at the top of a naked stem. They vary in shape depending on species but can either be tubular, bell, star, or cupped. Their spherical umbels can be shades white, pink, violet, or yellow and are oftentimes have long-lasting interest.
How to Grow
Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day), Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)