Allium

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Allium

Description

Herbs, usually with onion-smell, bulbs often present, sometimes with short rhizomes, growing gregarious or not. Leaves linear to elliptic, sheathing the scape, the blades sub-approximate or scattered along the scape, flat, or terete, semiterete, or angular and hollow. Inflorescence umbellate, usually many-flowered, sometimes with bulbils, hemispherical to spherical or ± ellipsoid, enveloped by 1 or 2 green or scarious, persistent or caducous spathe(s). Flowers relatively small, white to pinkish or purplish, bluish, or yellowish, stellate to campanulate or urceolate. Stamens 6; Ovary with 2-14 ovules per locule; Fruit capsular, loculicidally 3-valved. Seeds 1-4 per locule, flattened, irregularly angled, blackish.

Distribution

Asia-Temperate: Asia-Tropical: Central Asia: present Europe: present northern hemisphere: present worldwide: present
Indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere, with at present about 500-700 species. In Malesia some taxa are cultivated, all are introduced, either from China, Central Asia, or Europe. They are all well-known Allium crops, grown worldwide.

Uses

Of Allium plants the bulbs, cloves, pseudo-stems, leaves, and young inflorescences are used as vegetable and condiment. Allium species are also widely used in different medicines for treating various diseases, e.g., diarrhoea, eye-infections, and headaches. Nowadays lowering of the blood pressure and inhibition of blood plate aggregation are considered the most important medical effects of Allium consumption. Many Allium species are grown as ornamentals; however, not so in Malesia because Allium species usually do not flower under tropical conditions. For a more elaborate treatment of the cultivated Allium species in SE Asia see . See also: .