Allium sieheanum - Gallery

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In the late 1970s I subscribed to the MacPhail and Watson expedition to Turkey, receiving bulbs and seeds of several alliums, including the species shown below. These plants were originally identified as Allium tchaihatchewii (sic. for A. tchihatschewii).  The collection actually had two different allium species mixed into the single collection, the other species being a purplish-maroon flowered form of A. sivasicum.  The "tchihatschewii" misnomer was probably made for the similar species A. sivasicum, and the lovely A. sieheanum represents an interloper in the accidentally mixed collection.   

Allium sieheanum - dense head form in bud    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium sieheanum - dense flowered form in bud

Using Davis's key in the Flora of Turkey, the mystery allium keyed out to one of several closely allied species, A. sieheanum coming closest.  Rather puzzling however, are the two forms of this desirable species, one with dense capitate heads of tightly closed, orbicular flowers (shown above), and another form with loose, open heads of bloom, but with the exact same grape-like florets (shown at the bottom).  Flowers are sweetly fragrant, with a fruity plum-like scent.

 

Allium sieheanum - dense head form    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium sieheanum - dense flowered form

In this photo, the flower head is nearly at full anthesis.  The umbel is so densely flowered that the individual buds barely have room to open.  The flower heads are about 2" (5 cm) across on stems 6" - 8" (15 - 20 cm) tall, flowering in mid summer.  The luscious cool purple color takes on blue tones when viewed in morning or early evening under low light conditions.  Click on the following link to see another close-up photo of two dense flower heads, or click on the next link for a detailed line drawing showing the entire plant and bulb.

 

Allium sieheanum - loose head form    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium sieheanum - loose flowered form

This is the loose-flowered form of the same species.  Aside from the very different composure of the flowers, drooping on long, lax pedicels, the individual florets and plant habit are identical to the dense flowered form.  Could these be hybrids?   Possibly.  The plants shown above were mature, so it's not a case whereby immature flower heads look very different than those on mature bulbs, often a concern on slow-maturing bulbs.

 

To add to the riddle, both the dense-headed and loose-headed forms each produced green-stemmed forms and silver-stemmed forms, much the way Allium flavum shows similar green-to-silver stem and leaf color variation.  After growing these plants for over 20 years, being difficult and recalcitrant, they have slowly dwindling away, and I have lost all but one single bulb.

 

 

[ more photos at the Allium sieheanum - Image Sheet ]

[ detailed B&W line drawing, full plant and bulb ]

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Questions or comments on this page?  Contact Mark McDonough at antennaria@aol.com.

Images and textual content copyright 2000 Mark McDonough

This page was last updated on 04/04/01