Drumstick Alliums

The name Drumstick Allium aptly describes this group of onions having tall, thin stems, and tight knobs of bloom at the top, indeed looking like drumsticks. Onions in this group are primarily within Section Allium, the "type" section that defines the genus, although some onions in other sections may share the so-called "drumstick" appearance. Generally, all are easy in cultivation in full sun and ordinary well-drained loam or sandy soil.


Allium amethystinum is a species from the Mediterrean where it grows in rocky places. It has hollow leaves that have withered by flowering time (May to July) and many purple flowers in a spherical umbel. Photos by Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner.

Allium amethystinum, Bob RutemoellerAllium amethystinum, Mary Sue Ittner


Allium commutatum - A very late flowering allium for a Mediterranean plant, in bloom from July or later. This curious species grows on rocky slopes by the ocean and at the time of flowering is totally leafless. Bulbs are salt resistant and floaters, and they are dispersed during sea storms. Plants are found also growing deeply embedded in the pebbles of the beaches, haven fallen down from the slopes above. Photo in habitat by Angelo Porcelli

Allium commutatum, Angelo PorcelliAllium commutatum, Angelo Porcelli


Allium griffithianum - a beauty from C. Asia, with upright, flat-topped drumsticks of large carnous red-rose flowers, showing conspicuous dark red stripping. Allied to A. jacquemontii, Allium griffithianum only stayed with me a couple years, then succumbed (bulb rotted, I think). Photo by Mark McDonough.

Allium griffithianum, Mark McDonough

Allium guttatum Steven is a European species. There are perhaps three or four accepted subspecies. Photo by Wietse Mellema, possibly a subspecies.

Allium guttatum (subsp?), Wietse Mellema

Allium guttatum ssp. dalmaticum is from Albania and W. Yugoslavia to E. Bulgaria, where it is considered endemic. This is a purple color variant of Allium guttatum. It is nice, but not as attractive as the ssp. of A. sardoum shown below. Photo by Mark McDonough.

Allium guttatum ssp. dalmaticum, Mark McDonough

Allium guttatum ssp. guttatum (syn. Allium margaritaceum) ranges from the Aegean region to E.C. Ukraine.


Allium guttatum ssp. sardoum - a fine European species from Portugal to Turkey, with dense heads of white flowers held precisely spaced, showing off bright white pedicels and small fluffy white florets stained with a small dark blotch on each tepal. The first photo was taken by Mark McDonough, July 18, 2002 and another view of this species is shown in the second photo of plants grown by Arnold Trachtenberg in New Jersey from bulbs purchased from Pacific Rim Native Plant Nursery.

Allium guttatum ssp. sardoum, Mark McDonoughAllium guttatum ssp. sardoum, Arnold Trachtenberg

Allium jacquemontii - one of my absolute favorites, from C. Asia. Slow growing, and only mature bulbs flower, but a mature clump might produce a couple dozen tight knobs of fragrant luminous pink flowers. The heads widen and at full anthesis are a nearly flat-topped or domed drumstick. Flowers in June on 18" (45 cm) stems. Photo by Mark McDonough.

Allium jacquemontii, Mark McDonough

Allium rotundum (syn. Allium scorodoprasum ssp. rotundum) - One of my favorites and easy to grow. A Mediterranean species that grows 18"-24" (45-60 cm) tall, is slender of growth, and has tight oblong knobs of dark wine red-purple flowers. Photo by Mark McDonough.

Allium rotundum, Mark McDonough

Allium scorodoprasum ssp. jajlae - Another Mediterranean species that grows 18"-24" (45-60 cm) tall or taller. Growth is slender, with leaves easily mistaken for grass, and it has showy oblong heads of bright raspberry rose and orchid florets. Photo by Mark McDonough.

Allium scorodoprasum ssp. jajlae, Mark McDonough

Allium sphaerocephalon syn. Allium sphearocephalum, also called "round headed garlic" (sphaero = sphere, cephalum = related to the head) is an easy to grow onion that produces very dramatic flowering heads in early summer. It is grown in many climatic regions in the United States including the Deep South. It is frost hardy, drought tolerant, best grown in full sun and well drained, fertile soil with extra lime. The species can be propagated vegetatively by bulbs and bulbils. A single bulb produces about 4 bulbils at the end of the growing season in early summer. The first two photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen; the remaining photos were taken by David Pilling (the coin is about an inch in diameter). The last shows that the flowers do not open widely when the style and stamens appear.

Allium sphaerocephalon, Nhu NguyenAllium sphaerocephalon, Nhu NguyenAllium sphaerocephalon, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon, 6th July 2013, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon with hover fly pollinator, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon, David Pilling

Photo 1 shows a flower that was covered by foliage from nearby plants, and produced bulbils instead of a full flower. Photo 2 shows pollinated flowers forming seed pods. Photo 3 is of seed. Photo 4 is of a bulb accidentally uprooted whilst still growing, showing bulblet formation just below the surface (the stem is visible to the top left).

Allium sphaerocephalon, 10th August 2013, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon, 16th August 2013, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon seed, David PillingAllium sphaerocephalon, 18th June 2016, David Pilling

Photo below of the ripening seed pods by Travis Owen.

Allium sphaerocephalon seed pods, Travis Owen

Allium index - Allium flavum Relatives - American alliums A-B - American alliums C - American alliums D-F - American alliums G-H - American alliums I-M - American alliums N-R - American alliums S-Z - Big Ball alliums - Blue alliums - chives - Domed alliums - Miscellaneous alliums A-E - Miscellaneous alliums F-M - Miscellaneous alliums N-R - Miscellaneous alliums S-Z - Rhizomatous alliums


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