Allium woronowii

Today’s entry features another wonderful alpine plant with description by Brent Hine, Curator, E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden. Photo taken by Randy Mindell.

Alliums make for fascinating botanical study. There are many hundreds of species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They can be happy on frigid mountaintops or in blazing deserts. There is even a swamp onion, Allium validum. With most of our countrysides seemingly overflowing with onions, it shouldn’t be hard to find one and get better acquainted.

Allium woronowii is loosely classified as a “domed” allium, fairly obvious from its appearance. This group includes some of the most beautiful plants of the entire onion nation*. This species is at home in the meager mountain soils of eastern Turkey and Armenia, where climate is decidedly continental and wild onion species proliferate. The species has adapted well to the very seasonal environment—dormant bulbs respond to sudden Spring heat, forcing growth and flowering within short weeks after snowmelt. In the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, the benign Spring extends their bloom, which begins in late April. If bulbs are planted in comparatively warm, stony (eg. alpine garden) soils, growth will begin even earlier. Plants will also last longer if soil is allowed to dry out after they enter dormancy. Knowledgeable gardeners know that most ornamental bulbs like a good baking. Warm dry conditions allow them to fully ripen carbohydrate energy for next year’s effort. Oh, and it’s so worth it to get on your knees and sniff the flower umbel—an exquisite carnation scent is your reward.

My planned early summer hiking includes searching for rare BC native Allium crenulatum. If you live on the northern half of the planet, see if there isn’t an interesting species native to your area. And if you think I’m an allium convert, check out Mark McDonough’s Plant Buzz website,with it’s images of species and selections related to Allium woronowii in the Big “melanocrommyum” Allium gallery.


*Alliums: The Ornamental Onions. Dilys Davies. B.T. Batsford, London, 1992. Alliums in History, pp. 12-19.

New subgenera, sections and species of Allium, P. Wendelbo, Bot. Notiser 122 (1969), pp. 25-37.

Allium woronowii
Allium woronowii

12 responses to “Allium woronowii”

  1. Eric in SF

    Woo! Allium are really neat geophytes.
    Here is my favorite California Allium:

  2. Meg Bernstein

    I love Allium. The deer don’t eat them.

  3. katemarie

    excuse the aside, but is that heals-all in the background? recently started foraging and juicing and heals-all is a great additive to the mix of greens.

  4. Julie

    Good eye Katie. Those sure look like Heal-alls to me! Still waiting for them to appear here on the Gulf Island of Gabriola. Love the photo of the day as well – simply gorgeous!

  5. Mary

    A carnation-scented allium? Amazing.

  6. Carolina

    Great photos! I love that the stamens are the same color as the petals

  7. Cambree

    I’ve seen allium grown in many retail landscaping in Northern California. I usually don’t like the smell of onions. I would prefer this carnation scented one anytime!
    Lovely photo.

  8. Annie Morgan

    Super great photo and write up!

  9. Tree Zed

    Wonderful pictures. I also quite appreciated the tips for gardeners.
    I always look at the feature plants and contemplate how I can incorporate them into my garden 🙂 I think this one will find a home in mine.

  10. Eric in SF

    Cambree – I bet what you’re seeing here in NorCal is Tulbaghia violacea, a species from South Africa. Common name: Society Garlic. The flowers are a similar purple to today’s Allium but the foliage is incredibly aromatic of garlic and onions.

  11. elizabeth a airhart

    this is a grand plant they bloom here in fl
    this is a family i shall learn more about
    i like the green and yellow blooms
    fine write up and photos -thank you

  12. Brent

    This is actually not Heals-All, maybe the same as Self Heal?
    It’s a Thyme, though at this moment I can’t recall which species. Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a fairly common lawn weed in southwestern B.C.

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