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Useful Temperate Plants

Allium paradoxum

(M.Bieb.) G.Don

Amaryllidaceae

+ Synonyms

Scilla paradoxa M.Bieb.

Common Name: Few-Flowered Leek

No Image.

General Information

Allium paradoxum is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing a single leaf up to 33cm long and a flowering scape 15 - 30cm tall from an underground bulb. In reasonable conditions the plant can spread freely by division, self-sowing and (subspecies paradoxum) by bulbils to form large colonies.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens.
The sub-species Allium paradoxum normale does not form bulbils. It produces a large umbel of flowers in the spring and is very ornamental at this time. It is not invasive[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The second subspecies, Allium paradoxum paradoxum produces mainly bulbils instead of flowers, this form is naturalized in many parts of Europe where it has become a weed and can spread quite invasively[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Known Hazards

Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in very large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[
76
Title
Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man.
Publication
 
Author
Cooper. M. and Johnson. A.
Publisher
HMSO
Year
1984
ISBN
0112425291
Description
Concentrates mainly on the effects of poisonous plants to livestock.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

W. Asia - Caucasus, Iran, Turkmenistan

Habitat

Hedge banks and waste places on damp soils[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
90
Title
Bulbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. and Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1989
ISBN
0-330-30253-1
Description
Superbly illustrated, it gives brief details on cultivation and native habitat.
]. Shady places in forests[
294
Title
Ornamental Plants From Russia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=120
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief information on ornamental plants found growing wild in Russia, often including the habitat.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitBulb
Height0.25 m
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Plants are not very hardy outside the milder areas of the temperate zone, they tolerate temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Prefers a rich moist but well-drained soil[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
42
Title
Hardy Bulbs.
Publication
 
Author
Grey. C. H.
Publisher
Williams & Norgate.
Year
1938
ISBN
-
Description
Rather dated now, but an immense work on bulbs for temperate zones and how to grow them. Three large volumes.
]. Plants grow well in a heavy wet clay soil in north-west England, where they are self-sowing[
203
Title
Alliums. The Ornamental Onions.
Publication
 
Author
Davies. D.
Publisher
Batsford
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7134-7030-5
Description
Covers about 200 species of Alliums. A very short section on their uses, good details of their cultivation needs.
]. Plants are shade tolerant[
31
Title
Shade Plants for Garden and Woodland.
Publication
 
Author
Brown.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
 
], they are easily grown in a cool leafy soil[
90
Title
Bulbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. and Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1989
ISBN
0-330-30253-1
Description
Superbly illustrated, it gives brief details on cultivation and native habitat.
] and grow well in light moist woodland[
203
Title
Alliums. The Ornamental Onions.
Publication
 
Author
Davies. D.
Publisher
Batsford
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7134-7030-5
Description
Covers about 200 species of Alliums. A very short section on their uses, good details of their cultivation needs.
].
The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
].
The seeds have an oil-bearing appendage which is attractive to ants. The ants carry the seed away to eat the oil and then discard the seed, thus aiding dispersal of the plant[
203
Title
Alliums. The Ornamental Onions.
Publication
 
Author
Davies. D.
Publisher
Batsford
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7134-7030-5
Description
Covers about 200 species of Alliums. A very short section on their uses, good details of their cultivation needs.
].
The picked flowers can remain fresh for several weeks[
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Bulb - raw or cooked. The rather small bulb is up to 15mm in diameter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
203
Title
Alliums. The Ornamental Onions.
Publication
 
Author
Davies. D.
Publisher
Batsford
Year
1992
ISBN
0-7134-7030-5
Description
Covers about 200 species of Alliums. A very short section on their uses, good details of their cultivation needs.
], it has a mild garlic flavour and can be used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods. It is harvested in early summer when the plant has died down and will store for at least 6 months[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Leaves - raw or cooked. A leek substitute[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The leaves are available from late autumn until the spring, they are nice in salads when they are young, or cooked as a vegetable or flavouring as they get older[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. The leaves have a milder and more delicate flavour than onions[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Flowers - raw. Juicy with a mild garlic flavour, they make a tasty and decorative garnish on salads[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Allium species usually grow well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but they inhibit the growth of legumes[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
,
54
Title
How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Publication
 
Author
Hatfield. A. W.
Publisher
Frederick Muller Ltd
Year
1977
ISBN
0-584-10141-4
Description
Interesting reading.
]. They are, in general, bad companions for alfalfa - each species negatively affecting the other[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
].

Other Uses

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the juice of most species in this genus (especially those with a strong onion or garlic smell) can be used as a moth repellent[
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
].
The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles[
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse or cold frame. It germinates quickly and can be grown on in the greenhouse for the first year, planting out the dormant bulbs in the late summer of the following year if they have developed sufficiently, otherwise grow on in pots for a further year. Stored seed can be sown in spring in a greenhouse.
Bulbils, harvested in mid to late spring, can either be planted immediately or be stored and then planted in late summer.
Division in summer after the plants have died down. Very easy, the bulbs divide fairly freely and can be dug up then replanted direct into their permanent positions if required.

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