Allium caeruleum from Kazakhstan

Mark McDonough
Wed, 10 Feb 2010 16:56:36 PST
Diane Whitehead <> wrote:

>I just received my NARGS seeds, and this collected onion seed already  
>had little green shoots.  I think it must have bulbils in the seedhead. 
>Did anyone else receive it? 
Hi Diane,  I didn't request that one, but wanted to comment that this species has a propensity to produce tiny little sprouting bulbils in the maturing seed head.  A number of species, even the very choice blue A. beesianum, will produce a few minute sprouting bulbils in the dried seed head... these can be plucked off and planted with their tips sticking out if the soil to start new plants.  

For all of the Alliumphobes out there, this is not the same situation as true bulbilliferous species like A. carinatum or A. oleraceum, where most of the flowers are replaced but plump bulbils in the inflorescence that quickly fall off and start new plants (thus can be invasive).  Allium caeruleum and beesianum both have perfectly normal flower heads without obvious bulbils detracting from the floral display, and just  a few green sprouts appearing in the maturing seed head; these species are not invasive.

The form of Allium caeruleum in general cultivation and seen in the fall bulb bins, is not the best form, and indeed does make a few small bulbils in the inflorescence, typically not noticeable when flowering.  That form also frequently has amusing floral oddities... such as stamens on a floret might become a flower stem that sprouts another flower, a flower springing from another flower.  That form also seems to be short-lived.  So, it would be good to get a different form, such as one from Kazakhstan for example.

Now, if you see this species is offered by DBG (Denver Botanic Gardens), it is a super good clone far superior than anything I've grown from the Dutch bulb imports.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border, USDA Zone 5

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