Allium is a large genus of bulbous, onion- or garlic-scented and tasted herbs. A strong onion- odor is the recognizable characteristics of the entire genus, but not all species are equally flavorful.
It counts approximately of 1250 species, thus, being one of the biggest plant genera worldwide. Allium belongs to Alliaceae family with its species that can be met in all parts of the globe with exception of the tropics, New Zealand and Australia.
Due to the vast variety of species the plants’ may be from 5 cm to 150 cm tall. Their flowers form an umbel at the top of a leafless stalk. The flowers may be of different shades and colors. Depending on the species the size of bulbs may be quite small with 2–3 mm in diameter and rather big with8–10 cm.
The majority of members are used as food components; however some species are even cultivated to serve as floral decorative border plants.
Allium as a Food
Having about 1250 species Allium includes a lot of ornamental and food plants. Among popular food plants of Allium are such vegetables as onions, leeks, shallots and herbs of garlic and chives. The majority of people who have their own kitchen-gardens grow onions and leeks, garlic, shallots and chives.
Some of humans even may like to grow garlic chives, tree onions, and everlasting onions, welsh onions and the like. All the above-mentioned vegetables, herbs and many others make up the genus Allius having an important place in the food garden.
Distinguished by their bright and colorful flowers along with “architectural” characteristics some Allium members are widely cultivated and utilized as border and ornamental plants. Such plants can be met in the flower gardens as well.
Thus, for this purpose some Allium hybrids have been bred with flowers of various shades purple color. The well known hybrid is called Allium hollandicum; it is commonly known as ‘Purple Sensation’. The breeders of this plant have got an Award of Garden Merit.