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Allium cepa proliferum - (Moench) Regel.                
                 
Common Name Tree Onion
Family Alliaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this plant. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[76].
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium cepa proliferum is a BULB growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Allium cepa proliferum Tree Onion


Allium cepa proliferum Tree Onion
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

The plant forms small bulbs at the top of the flowering stem, these can be eaten raw or cooked[16, 33]. They have a strong onion flavour and are often used as pickled onions or added to salads[K]. As long as the bulbils are dried properly at harvest time, they store well[4]. Bulb - raw or cooked. The bulb can be up to 4cm in diameter and has a strong onion flavour[K]. Chopped into slices, it makes a good addition to salads and can also be used as a vegetable or as a flavouring in cooked foods[K]. Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong onion flavour, it makes a nice flavouring in salads though it should not be harvested in quantity because this would reduce the yield of bulbils[K]. The leaves are produced from late autumn, though we have found that harvesting them at this time will often encourage diseases such as mildew[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antiinflammatory;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  Lithontripic;  
Skin;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Although rarely used specifically as a medicinal herb, the onion has a wide range of beneficial actions on the body and when eaten (especially raw) on a regular basis will promote the general health of the body. The bulb is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, lithontripic, stomachic and tonic[4, 7, 21]. When used regularly in the diet it offsets tendencies towards angina, arteriosclerosis and heart attack[254]. It is also useful in preventing oral infection and tooth decay[254]. Baked onions can be used as a poultice to remove pus from sores[254]. Fresh onion juice is a very useful first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings, bites, grazes or fungal skin complaints[7, 201]. When warmed the juice can be dropped into the ear to treat earache[254]. It also aids the formation of scar tissue on wounds, thus speeding up the healing process, and has been used as a cosmetic to remove freckles[7].
Other Uses
Cosmetic;  Dye;  Hair;  Polish;  Repellent;  Rust.

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent and can also be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects[7]. The plant juice can be used as a rust preventative on metals and as a polish for copper and glass[7]. A yellow-brown dye is obtained from the skins of the bulbs[141, 168]. Onion juice rubbed into the skin is said to promote the growth of hair and to be a remedy for baldness[7]. It is also used as a cosmetic to get rid of freckles[7]. The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles[201]. A spray made by pouring enough boiling water to cover 1kg of chopped unpeeled onions is said to increase the resistance of other plants to diseases and parasites[201].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil[1] but succeeds in most soils that are in good condition[16]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1]. Some modern works have moved this plant from A. cepa, seeing it as being of hybrid origin with A. fistulosum and therefore renaming in A. x proliferum. The tree onion is a genuinely perennial form of A. cepa that is sometimes grown in the herb garden for its edible bulbils. Plants rarely if ever produce seed, instead the flowering head is comprised of a number of small onions or bulbils[16, 33]. Plants are propagated by means of these bulbils or by dividing the main bulb that grows underground[K]. By no means a heavily productive plant, though the bulbils are very well flavoured and the plant is fairly easily grown[K]. Its main problem is that slugs seem to be attracted to it and can eat to death even well-established plants[K]. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes[18, 20, 54]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[201]. Said to be immune to onion root fly[16]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Harvest bulbils in late summer and replant immediately or store them in a cool dry frost-free place and plant them out in late winter or early spring. Division of the bulbs after the leaves die down in late summer.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(Moench) Regel.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[141]Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK.
Some suggested alternative commercial crops for Britain. Readable. Produced by a University study group.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
keith exelby Wed Jan 31 2007
my father always grew tree-onions [in the 1940s] but I have not been able to buy any seed bulbs can you name a supplier Keith Exelby
Elizabeth H.
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future Mon Mar 5 2007
There are a number of suppliers in Britain. For details visit the Plant Finder at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp
Elizabeth H.
Matt Cavens Sat May 23 2009
If anybody grows or knows a supplier for the "Norris Egyptian" please could they get in touch. I grow the other 3 varieties of this onion and are willing to swap.
Elizabeth H.
Jo Blair Mon Sep 14 2009
I am also looking for specific cultivars of allium proliferum as all the companies I have looked at only supply non-named varieties. Anyone got any contacts that would help me? Thanks
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