The Nodding Onion, Allium cernuum is rather
amorphous as a species, and can be found in many forms, but
always with the tell-tale crook-necked nodding stem. Other Allium
species also have nodding buds, which can
cause some confusion, but once familiar with the unique architectural
shape of Allium cernuum flower heads, it
is not hard to distinguish the true nodding onion. Native to most
states throughout the USA and up into Canadian
provinces, the nodding onion can be found in a great variety of forms,
from pallid insignificant forms to those that
are truly bright and ornamental. Shown below is an "average good
form", with clear pink flowers of substance,
making a show in the garden. If you get small pale-flowers forms
with nondescript flowers, throw them out
and look for something better, perhaps grown from seed which is
exceedingly easy with this species.
Allium cernuum 'Wall of Pink' is a superior seedling that appeared
in the strip of ground in front
of a stone wall that borders my property and the street. This is
classic "cernuum" here, but when
promiscuous with other forms of A. cernuum, sometimes exceptionally robust
forms appear, like
this one. The stems are winged and sculptured, with long strongly
crook necks supporting really
fine heads of clear light pink flowers. The bulbs are huge for a
"cernuum", with the characteristic
bright red bulb coat. The foliage too, is strong and robust
growing. Flowers mid July.
In the image below, a close-up detail of Allium cernuum 'Wall of Pink'.
Two Allium cernuum forms growing
side by side, demonstrating the genetic differences in floral structure.
The inflorescence on the left shows a large-headed type with long
pedicels, widely spaces florets, and
strong architectural candelabra form with beautifully arching
pedicels. The inflorescence on the right
shows a more typical but less desirable flower head that is much smaller
and compact, thus less dramatic.
the variant shown below, we get a well proportioned flower head with good
beautifully poised florets of near white flowers tinged pinkish.
This seedling showed up 2007, and
is certainly worth observation to see how well it performs. I like the
dark arching pedicels.