culinary muscari - on topic

Jim McKenney
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 05:13:04 PST
Carlo wrote: “Clifford Wright in 'Mediterranean Vegetables' writes that
green onions and spring onions all refer to Allium fistulosum, the  
differences between them attributable to cultivars (a nice word to  
find in a cookbook!).”

Carlo, that’s a very different take than the one I’m used to. Although
American seed catalogs do list some cultivars of Allium fistulosum, most of
what we see/grow as scallions are non-bulbing Allium cepa (as I understand

I don’t remember seeing the term green onions until relatively recently
(within the last decade or so). I’ve always understood green onions to be
bulbing onions in a very early stage of development (before the bulb
develops much). Locally, the term is often used for the earliest Vidalia
type onions sold with their green tops still attached. 

The term spring onions in my experience if often used for scallions (and as
I know it, the word scallions refers to those early-harvested non- or only
slightly-bulbing forms of Allium cepa and A. fistulosum). 

Wright might be correct if what he means is that Allium fistulosum is
sometimes called green onions, spring onions or scallions; but if he means
that those terms are to be applied  exclusively to Allium fistulosum, I
think he is mistaken. Is Wright a British writer? If so, the terms probably
have a different usage pattern there, and that would help explain his

I’ve read, for instance, that the word scallion is still used sometimes in
British usage to refer to what we would call shallots. 

I’ll have to look for Wright’s book. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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