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
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
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
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and textual content copyright © 2007 Mark McDonough
page was last updated on 08/25/07