Subject: [pbs] allium macranthum
Sun, 08 Jun 2003 19:08:45 PDT
Regarding the photos posted of "Allium macranthum", I'm sorry to disappoint 
you Arnold, but that's not A. macranthum... it is surely a form of Allium 
senescens, a frequent imposter sent out under a variety of species names, although 
it's a nice enough allium in its own right.

Allium macranthum is unmistakable, an Asian species sometimes compared to the 
American nodding onion, Allium cernuum, sharing the habit of florets 
suspended on long drooping pedicels.  In Allium macranthum, the flowers are narrowly 
cylindrical... like little closed droplets with protruding stamens, the flowers 
held atop tall stems in loosely-flowered heads.  Flower color ranges from 
pale pinkish to deep purplish-pink. It grows from forked fleshy white rhizomes 
that are quite unlike the horizonatal iris-like rhizomes attached to bulbs found 
in Allium senescens.

I have posted a photo taken in a friend's garden last August 12, 2002.  The 
plant was growing mixed in with lots of other plants, alliums, and weeds, and I 
didn't get a very good photograph, but I post this photo to give clear 
indication of the floral details to distinguish the species:…

I used to grow lots of this but have since lost it over the years... I let 
the area in which it was growing become too weedy and overgrown.  This is a 
species that's very late to emerge in the spring, flowers in mid summer, and 
prefers moist humusy soil in part shade.  It's a quiet yet lovely species, although 
a little bit tall and floppy, and for that reason, I prefer the North 
American nodding onion, Allium cernuum, for it's carefree culture and showier 

Mark McDonough        Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States    "New England"               USDA Zone 5
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