Allium macranthum 

Allium macranthum is a beautiful species from China, Bhutan, and Sikkim, growing in
high mountain meadows and stream banks in moist soil.  Notoriously difficult to find
true-to-name in cultivation, as it is invariably confused with the North American nodding
onion (A. cernuum) and replaced by the species in the seed exchanges.  My plant is
from seed distributed in 1990 from plants collected in Bhutan.  Flower color is reportedly
variable, from deep red-purple to purple, or paler shades as seen here.

Flowering starts late July and lasts well into August, doing well in a sunny position in
good loamy soil.  It will take some shade, but grows and flowers more laxly in such sites.
While it is true the flowers are nodding, the stems are not nodding or crooked as they
are with Allium cernuum.  The large opalescent flowers remain in a closed oval shape 
(hence one if its synonyms, A. oviflorum), with the filaments just poking through.

Allium macranthum
- as the flowers age they turn pink, and eventually a ruddy purplish
color.  Thus far it has never set seed for me, although the species does offset via rhizomes which
can be carefully removed to increase one's stock.  The foliage is grayish green, channeled (v-shaped
in cross-section) making upright leafy clumps that are completely unlike the foliage of A. cernuum.

Photos by Mark McDonough

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This page was last updated on 08/25/07