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Allium close up

Allium altaicum (Altai onion)

July 11, 2019

We have many types of ornamental onion in the gardens at Wave Hill, perhaps the oddest, and maybe the goofiest, is the Altai onion (Allium altaicum).

Upright, thick, tubular leaves surround a central, even thicker flower stem, on top of which is perched a spherical cluster of tiny white flowers. All of this endows the plant with a lot of personality.

Allium close up 1

Native to Central Asia, it is thought to be the parent species of the bunching onion (Allium fistulosum), called the Japanese bunching, or Welsh, onion and is known for its tasty hollow stems—fistulosum refers to this hollowness.

Allium close up 2

The Altai onion can be found in a corner of the Wild Garden, not far from the Gazebo. You might just catch it giving you a wave as you pass by.

By Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter