Allium cernuum


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.


In the variant shown below, we get a well proportioned flower head with good architectural shape, 
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.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Mark McDonough

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Questions or comments on this page?  Contact Mark McDonough at antennaria@charter.net.

Images and textual content copyright 2007 Mark McDonough

This page was last updated on 08/24/07