Monday, April 15, 2013

A botanical description of allium cernuum

A botanical description of allium cernuum

It's interesting:
"Now, I think you'll agree, after seeing the amount of free booze available at this wedding, that it's a good job it's a Bank Holiday this weekend. And if you do ..."

Also known as lady's leek, nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum) is a perennial member of the onion family characterized by grasslike leaves, clusters of nodding flowers and a strong, onion aroma. The plant is easily cultivated within its native range, blooming throughout the summer with little care.

Does this Spark an idea?

  1. Foliage

    • Nodding onion grows to be between 12 to 18 inches tall, occasionally growing to a height of 2 feet. The plant produces a rosette of flat, grass like leaves that are approximately 12 inches long, and about 1/4 inch wide. Leaves have a soft texture, and bend outward or downward. Flowers sit atop leafless scapes that rise above the plant's slender leaves. Scapes bend downwards at the top so the individual flowers in the umbel droop down, giving the plant it's signature "nodding" appearance.


    • Loose clusters of flowers, known as an umbel, sit atop the nodding, leafless scapes. Each bell shaped flower is about 1/4 inch long, and consists of three petals, three sepals and six white stamens topped with yellow anthers. Flowers may be white, pale purple or pink. Two membraneous bracts sit at the base of the flower umbel. Flowers have an onion like scent, and appear for about a month in the summer. Flowers are followed by light, flat seed capsules that contain tiny black seeds that are distributed by wind.


    • The leaves and slender bulbs of the nodding wild onion are edible, and have traditionally been eaten raw or cooked in stews and other dishes. The flowers of the plant are pollinated by short-tongued bees such as the Halictid bees, and are visited by other insects such as butterflies and syrphid flies. Animals rarely feed on the nodding wild onion, and harmful pests hardly ever bother the heavily aromatic, hardy plant.


    • Wild nodding onion has a wide natural range, growing from Canada through the United States down to Mexico. As a garden plant, nodding onion is suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 4 to 8. The plant grows easily in a range of soils, though it prefers a well draining sandy loam. Plant in full sunlight. In hot climates, plant in a location with some light afternoon shade. The plant often self seeds, though it may be propagated by bulb offsets.


Tags: nodding wild, nodding wild onion, wild onion, about inch, allium cernuum, botanical description, botanical description allium