Allium is one of the largest plant genera in the world, with about 1250 species. It is the onion genus, perennial bulbous plants which produce chemical compounds like cysteine sulfoxide that give a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor. Allium is classified under the family Alliaceae, at the same time some of its classifications are included in the Lily family. The flowers of allium form an umbel at the top of a leafless stalk. The height of Allium plants ranges from 5 to 150 cm. The flower form in clusters of bulb shaped, they can also be star shaped, cup-shaped, semi-circular or pendulous. Almost all the alliums have edible bulbs.


Cultivation: Allium species is easily grown in temperate climates of the northern hemisphere, a few of the species also grow in other countries. Such as Allium juncifolium in Chile, Allium sellovianum in Brazil, Allium spathaceum in tropical Africa. It grows well in full sunny exposure, in well drained soils. Though it has a greater tolerant towards other conditions also. Many species do well in heavy soils. The soil should be well drained or the plant would rot due to standing water. In wetter climate like Britain they don't do well and most of them would quietly disappear if not weeded properly and occasionally.

Propagation: Propagation in Alliums is so simple. It is recommended to use the seed method, since the propagation will be good for this. The seeds have to been sown in late winter or in early spring in a cold greenhouse. Germination is normally quick and good for allium. It is possible to grow the seedlings without transplanting for the first season, if the seeds are not sown thickly. Liquid feed must be applied occasionally, preventing the plants getting hungry. There are species which do not have well defined bulbs, but form a clump of rhizome-like roots. In this case the clumps must be dug during the spring, cut into sections and replanted. The thing that has to be seriously kept in mind is that, some of the allium species can become noxious weeds and this is because of some of the bad bulbs. Therefore the species that forms bulbs must be treated with caution, though there is nothing to worry about onion or garlic.

Varieties: There are lots of species under the Allium, which are mostly used for edible purposes. Almost all the alliums have bulbs which are edible, though some are not palatable. The following are some of the species of allium. Allium ampeloprasum, which are native of Britain and they are wild leek. Allium canadense, commonly called as the wild garlic. Allium cepa, which are tree onion, makes good flavors in cooking and for pickling. Allium cernuum,the nodding onion. Allium fistulosum, the welsh onion, with edible leaves and small bubls. They are commonly known as the spring onion. Allium moly, in this the bulb grows for about 1feet tall. Allium neapolitanum is commonly known as the daffodil garlic. There are also many other species such as, Allium sativum, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium triquetrum, Allium tuberosum, Allium ursinum. These species are only a few. There are many more species that we consume.

Disease and Cure : Allium is almost free from pests and diseases. So no special care for protection and diseases are taken widely. The welsh onion, Allium fistulosum and some varieties of common onion are the most disease affected. This can also be cured by developing a balanced eco-system on the land by taking some measures such as encouraging hedgehogs and building ponds to encourage frogs. This would have its effect gradually, but it is a slow process and therefore we have to wait. If don't like waiting for such a natural method, pesticides can be used.

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