National collections programs
Mon, 14 Jun 2004 20:29:44 PDT
Mary Sue Ittner wrote:
>I looked at the collections page on your web site:

>As expected in an agricultural site it 
>appears a lot of the holdings are crops. 
>It doesn't look like there are a lot of bulbs. 
>Allium, as a source of food, makes sense. 
>Would the emphasis be on collecting ones 
>that were eaten? Looking through some of 
>the species held at Pullman with a quick 
>browse I saw they they are not holding many
>of the Pacific northwest species I grow.

Mary Sue, you hit the nail on the head.  In my experience, the Allium 
collections held ny USDA at Pullman, Washington, represent a mostly agricultural face 
of the genus, consistent with the fact the important genus Allium has been a 
food crop for centuries, and remains an important food crop.  Allium is among 
the most intensively studied agricultural crops, right up there with corn.

They (USDA at Pullman) are indeed free with sharing seed of their collections 
for the asking of serious growers, which I have partaken in the past.  The 
species they grow are mostly those closely affiliated with the cultivated 
entities that represent the food crop allium; Allium cepa, porrum, schoenoprasum, 
ampelosprasum, etc.  Of the Allium schoenoprasum forms I tried, I didn't see 
much variation in the resulting plants, whereas, from forms of Allium 
schoenoprasum I've received from known wild sources, including dwarf forms from Finland, 
Crete, New Foundland, and other locales, the plants is amazing diverse.

There are germplasm Allium collections, in which the focus is of a more 
ornamental horticultural persuasion, such as Kew in England, Gatersleben in 
Germany, and among preeminent collectors of the genus such as with plant explorer and 
botanist Arnis Seisums from Latvia (many of his collections, available from 
Janis Ruksans, also in Latvia).  I hope to put together a photo gallery of some 
of these extra fine ornamental allium soon, to include Allium oreophilum 
'Torch', A. litvinovii, A. convallaroides, A. chloranthum, and A. sieheanum.

Mark McDonough Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States "New England" USDA Zone 5
>> web site under construction - <<
alliums, bulbs, penstemons, hardy hibiscus, western 
american alpines, iris, plants of all types!

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