Allium beesianum (with A. mairei), and A. sp. aff. cyaneum

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 their

debut, telegraphing their eventual arrival late August and well into September.  In this form, there are 

occasionally small bulbils in the flower heads, which can be carefully removed and planted out to

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 September 2007.


Shown 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.




Photos by Mark McDonough

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This page was last updated on 09/08/07