All about Allium – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

It is a genus of monocotyledonous plants, which has almost hundreds of different species and in this family onions and garlic are also included. Allium is basically a Latin word whose literary meaning is garlic.

It is also commonly called as ornamental onion due to its onion-like cluster appearance it is thought to be one of the most interesting blooms during summers and springs.

It has a spherical shape and it stays in that shape throughout the season and also it is said to have long-lasting blooms which remains in the form of a bulb.

There are variations in its shape, height and colors and all the variations are loved by pollinators. Allium plants are found almost all over the world except the tropics of Australia and New Zealand.

In this family, several plants are used as food supplements like the onion and garlic and some of the other family members are cultivated as ornamental border plants.

Characteristics of Allium

Allium is characterized by sharp linear leaves and its flowers contain six petals. Many of these starts from rhizomes or bulb and the majority of these plants are perennials. The flowers are spherical in shape and they occur in cluster form and produce black seeds in dry shell fruits.

Some of the plants have an asexual mode of reproduction which means that they reproduce from bulbils in the flower head.

Members of this family vary in size from 5cm to 150cm. The flowers of Allium make an umbel at the very upper portion of the leafless stalk. It consists of the strap, undifferentiated foliage and straight tubular flower track. The flower as stated earlier occurs in cluster form and they give spherical pom-pom appearance to it. But apart from that they also occur in cup shape as well as a star shape.

The size of the plant varies from very small to larger ones as well. Some species form thick leaf bases instead of forming the bulbs.

History of Allium

Allium is basically a Latin word which means garlic. In 1753 the specie was first reported by Linnaeus. Due to the smell of garlic, some historians associate it to Greek words which means to avoid. There are various other species of Allium that were cultivated in ancient times and their economic importance can also be traced by studying these species.

Many different species of Allium family, most prominently onions were used by the ancient Egyptians which is quite apparent by looking at their inscriptions and drawings on their various monuments.

In the middle of the 19th century, different species of Allium families were used as ornamental plants and before that, there is no clear evidence of these species being used as ornamental plants.

Onions specifically have a very old history of being used as the most cultivated plant of all time. Before recorded history, they were most probably cultivated in countries like India, China and also the Middle East. The spherical bulb of this plant was symbolized as the universe by the ancient Egyptians.

Uses of Allium

There are various members belonging to this particular family that has shown significant medicinal importance and garlic and onions are the most important ones.

Garlic most importantly used to control bold pressure and also to harden the arteries, it is also quite effective in case of heart diseases.

Garlic is effective in preventing tick bites. It is normally used in the form of paste in meals but also eaten by mouth but once it is eaten it produces bad odor, therefore, it is recommended to use it as an additive or supplement in foods.

Studies are underway to determine the efficacy of garlic to control cholesterol levels although it has shown both positive and negative effects the studies are in their initial stages, therefore, it is too early to draw a conclusion about that.

Allium is basically a versatile flower and it works quite well in modest and romantic creations.  The flowers of Allium are found in a variety of different colors which vary from pink, purple, green as well as white. Due to these vibrant colors these are one of the most preferred ornamental plants and make a large portion of the floral industry.

Meaning of Allium Flower

The flower of Allium is associated with different meanings. It usually symbolizes good fortune, unity, patience as well as grace.

It is said that the Onion which is one of its members has been derived from Latin word which is “onio” which means one or unity. Onions were given this name because it usually grows from a single bulb.

How to Care of Allium

If the Allium species are planted and grown in the right location, soil and time then it is quite easy to take care of these plants.

It produces spherical and softball-sized flowers in purple and these flowers last longer on sunny days. Most of these plants bloom during the early summer and that bloom last for at least four weeks.  So in that period, the plant must be monitored and its requirements must be fulfilled for better results.

The onions and garlic which are the prominent members of this family need watering once in a week. Although they do not get attacked by pests easily it is preferable to use pesticides once in a while. To enhance the growth it is also suggested to use fertilizers.

The post-bloom care of Allium is much easier. Keep the plants in the sun and water them until they lighten to yellow and begin to shrink.

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