Among the relatively few true blue-flowered
alliums, Allium beesianum is one of the jewels of the genus.
The upright clumps are attractive all season, the nodding buds appearing months ahead of
debut, telegraphing their
eventual arrival late August and well into September. In this form,
small bulbils in the flower heads, which can be carefully removed and
planted out to
increase stock. This species, and the other ones described on this
page, are all from China.
This species gets confused with the similar A. sikkimense, although in A.
beesianum the tepals are
longer (11-14 mm) versus the shorter tepals of sikkimense (6-10 mm).
It also gets confused with
Allium cyaneum, but that species has stamens protruding way past the
tepals (see the bottom image).
Visible in the photo of Allium beesianum, is Allium mairei, in a pale
whitish-pink form. It is a tiny
delicate species worthy of a choice open-shaded spot in the garden, kept
well away from more
aggressive neighboring plants. Allium mairei has thread thin
foliage, and delicate little sprays of
tubular stars all August and into September. Photo taken early
below is an allium I received from Darrell Probst as "Allium sp.
Collected in China". There are two
clones, one that has red-purple roots, and one that doesn't, but they are
otherwise similar. I have tried to
apply the Flora of China keys to this allium several times, but no
satisfactory identification is forthcoming.
Considering the flowers only, it keys to Allium cyaneum, and certainly the
long exserted stamens show
close affinity. However, in growth, it's all wrong, and the plant
fails to fit the keys. This plant has unkempt
sprawling growth, wiry terete stems to 16" long, sheathed for one
quarter its length in leaves (foliage is
all basal in A. cyaneum), the largish flower clusters that nod (for the
photograph, I lifted the stems up,
otherwise they're sitting with their faces in the dirt). In Allium
cyanum, the flowers are mostly upright.
There is another form of A. cyaneum from Korea, named A. cyaneum var.
deltoides, but I can't find much
information about that one. This plant begins blooming the end of August,
coming into full bloom in September.
Until I know more about the plant's identity, I'll call it Allium
species aff. cyaneum.