Allium fistulosum L.

Allium fistulosum L.

Family

Liliaceae

Synonyms

Allium bouddhae O. Debeaux , Allium bakeri Hoop., non Regel.

Vernacular Names

Malay­sia

Daun bawang.

English

Welsh onion ('welsh' proba­bly derived from the German 'welsche' meaning   foreign),  (Japanese) bunching onion.

Indonesia

Bawang daun, bawang bakung (Sundanese), bawang oncang (Javanese).

Philippines

Buyah (Ifugao).

Cambodia

Khtüm sânlök.

Thailand

Horn-ton (Cen­tral), horn-chin (Peninsular).

Vietnam

H[af]nh hoa, h[af]nh h[uwl [ow]ng.

French

Ciboule.

Geographical Distributions

Allium fistulosum is only known in cultivation and probably originated in north-western China, although its ancestry remains unknown. Cultivation of A. fistulosum dates back to at least 200 BC in China. It reached Japan be­fore 500 AD and spread further to Southeast Asia. The earliest description of the crop and its cultivation is found in a Chinese book of 100 BC. It is first mentioned in Japanese literature in 720 AD. Until the early 20th Century, A. fistulosum was the most important Allium species in these countries, fulfilling the culinary role of both the common onion and leek in Europe. In Japan, A. fistulosum is now second in importance to A. cepa L. However in China, where A. fistulosum and com­mon onion are used in different dishes, A. fistulosum has retained its first place. The crop is grown throughout the world, but the main area of cultivation remains to be in East Asia from Siberia to In­donesia. In other parts of the world, it is mainly a crop of home garden.

Description

Allium fistulosum is a gregarious, perennial herb that often grows in large tufts. It is usually cultivated as an annual or biennial plant. The bulb is indistinct, ovoid to oblongoid, measures up to 10 cm long and gradually passing into a more or less thick scape. There are few to sev­eral lateral bulbs which are virtually absent in some cultivars, narrow and inconspicuous. The several protective bulb-coat leaves are papery, smooth, reddish, purplish or brownish. There is 1 sprout leaf and oblique apex.

The foliage leaves are bluish-green with light bloom, distichous, hairless, in 4-6 in bunching types and in 10-12 in single-stem types. There are usually 3-6 ac­tive-growing green leaves with cylindrical tapering blades. They are scattered in the lower part of the scape, measuring (10-)30-150 cm x 1.0-2.5 cm, hollow, top acute and circular in cross-sec­tion. There is 1 peduncle that exceeds the leaves, erect, straight without localised swelling, hollow and measures 8-25 mm broad.

The inflorescence is umbellate, hemispherical to spherical, measures 3-7 cm across, and composed either of flow­ers or of bulbils only. The flowering is centrifugal. There is 1 spathe, which is almost transparent, persistent, measures up to 10 mm long, acuminate and with (1-)2-3 slits open into spathe valves. The bracteoles are absent. The pedicels are almost equal to un­equal where the lower ones are shortest and measure 10-30 mm long. The flowers are narrowly bell-shaped to urn-shaped. There are 6 tepals, which are ovate-oblong to oblong-Iance-shaped, measure 6-10 mm long, smooth, (greenish-)white, with greenish mid­vein and top acuminate. There are 6 stamens with exceeding perianth. The inner and outer filaments are similar, measure 8-15 mm long, simple and narrow. The yellow anthers are 1.5 mm long. The pistil is rather long and with exceeding peri­anth. The ovary is spherical to broadly obovate. The style is 10-15 mm long and slen­der.

The fruit is spherical and measures about 5 mm across.

The black seed measures 3-4 mm x 2-2.5 mm.

Ecology / Cultivation

Allium fistulosum is adapted to a remarkably wide range of climates. It is very tolerant of cold weather and can overwinter even in Siberia. It is also tolerant of hot humid conditions as e.g. in Bangladesh. In Java, it grows well above an altitude of 200 m, but it is more common above 500 m. There are many local selections and com­mercial cultivars, reflecting the adaptation to this wide range of climatic conditions. Most cultivars are well-adapted to variations in rainfall and more tolerant of heavy rainfall than other Allium spp. A well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter is preferred. Allium fistulosum is very susceptible to waterlogging, which quickly kills the active roots. Es­tablished plants are very tolerant of moisture stress and drought rarely kills them. For optimal growth, a neutral soil pH is required, but even at a pH of 8-10, good growth is possible. In acidic soils, growth is generally poor.

Line Drawing / Photograph

BOT00365

References

  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.8: Vegetables.