Allium cepa L.

Last updated: 06 April 2015

Scientific Name

Allium cepa L.

Synonyms

Allium cepa var aggregatum G.Don, Allium angolense Baker, Allium aobanum Araki, Allium ascalonicum auct., Allium cepaeum St.-Lag., Allium commune Noronha, Allium cumaria Buch.-Ham. ex Wall. [Invalid], Allium esculentum Salisb., Allium napus Pall. ex Kunth, Allium nigritanum A.Chev. [Invalid], Allium pauciflorum Willd. ex Ledeb., Allium salota Dostál, Ascalonicum sativum P.Renault, Cepa alba P.Renault, Cepa esculenta Gray, Cepa pallens P.Renault, Cepa rubra P.Renault, Cepa vulgaris Garsault [Invalid], Kepa esculenta Raf., Porrum cepa (L.) Rchb. [1].

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Bawang merah, bawang kecil, bawang besar [2]
English Onion, common onion, shallot onion [2]
China Yang chon [3]
India Venkayam, irulli (Tamil) [3]
Indonesia Bawang merah, bawang beureum, bawang bombay [2] brambang [3]
Brunei Bawang besar [2]
Philippines Sibuyas tagalog, bauang pula (Tagalog); lasona (Iloko) [2]
Vietnam H[af]nh t[aa]y, h[af]nh c[ur], h[af]nh t[aw]m [2]
Thailand Horn farang, horn hua yai (Central); [2] hua hawm [3]
Laos Hoom bwàx, bwàx fàlangx [2]
Cambodia Khtüm krâhââm, khtiim barang [2]
France Echalote [2]
Papua New Guinea Lip anian, anian (Pidgin) [2].

Geographical Distributions

Allium cepa probably originated from central Asia, but nowhere truly wild. Cultivated all over the world; cultivar (cv.) group Aggregatum (shallot) predominates in the tropical lowland of South-East Asia, but cv. group Common Onion is grown in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Thailand. [2]

Botanical Description

A. cepa is a biennial herb that is grown as an annual, up to 100 cm tall. The mature bulb can grow up to 15 cm in diametre. [2]

The leaves are semiterete form, solid at first but later becoming hollow and pale bluish-green. Margin is terete. It is often inflated and hollow in the middle or in the lower part. [2]

The inflorescence is up to 2000 flowers. The tepals are greenish-white to purplish. The stamens are sometimes slightly exceeding tepals, style shorter than stamens at anthesis. [2]

The fruit is 4-6 mm in diametre, containing up to 6 seeds. The size of seeds is about 3 mm x 2 mm. In cv. group Common Onion the bulbs are large and normally single, and the plants reproduce from seed or from seed-grown bulbils, while in cv. group Aggregatum (shallot) the bulbs are smaller, several to many forming an aggregated cluster and reproduce vegetatively via lateral bulbs. [2]

 

Cultivation

Tropical shallot requires an average day temperature of 20-26°C and a day-length of at least 11 hours, whereas common onion prefers slightly lower temperatures and a day-length of at least 13 hours. In Indonesia, shallot is mainly grown in the lowlands below 450 m altitude, preferably on well-drained alluvial clay soil. Whereas Chinese chives, welsh onion and garlic are grown in the highlands up to 2200 m altitude. Most tropical onions are grown during the dry season, as too much rain will result in a high incidence of fungal diseases. They require well-drained soils. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation

Dosage

No documentation

Poisonous

No documentation

Line drawing

314

Figure 1: Line drawing of A. cepa. [2]

References

  1. The Plant List. Allium cepa L. ver1.1 [homepage on the internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2014 Aug 4]. Available from http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-295261
  2. Sulistiarini D, Djamal J, Raharjo I. Allium cepa L. In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Netherlands, Backhuys Publisher; 1999. p. 97-98.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Vol. 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC-IMR: 2002. p.28.