Allium cristophii

A quick entry for the day about Allium cristophii, or the star of Persia. This photo was uploaded to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool back in May of this year by Christopher (aka c.young@Flickr). Thanks for sharing, Christopher!

Allium cristophii (subgenus Melanocrommyum), of the Amaryllidaceae, is a bulbous perennial native to Iran, Turkey, and central Asia. It is planted ornamentally for its large, spherical, purple flower heads of over 100 individual flowers that bloom in the spring. The flower heads of this species are noted to be amongst the largest produced by ornamental onions at 20-25cm in diameter.

The star of Persia is mentioned to be easily grown. Planting in rich, sandy to gritty soil in well-drained loams in full sun should do the trick. Apparently they do well in dry, sunny areas, particularly as over-moist soils may cause bulb rot. This species may colonize over time. If you want to control unwanted spread, deadhead the flowers before seed set.

Today I did want to write about Helianthus annuus, as this species was mentioned in the news yesterday. However, it has been featured on Botany Photo of the Day both last year and in 2007. To quickly summarize, it was highlighted in the news from Nature that this flower species bends to track the path of the sun, and researchers have found it is not only a response to light, but also to an internal clock. To see more, check out the article and accompanying video.

Allium cristophii

6 responses to “Allium cristophii”

  1. Ron B

    Some recent authors have placed Allium in Alliaceae. As for the name A. cristophii it would be nice if this piece would include a comment on the issue of A. cristophii vs. A. albopilosum and the status of cultivated stocks in relation to this.

  2. Fred Bess

    When did Allium become a member of Amaryllidaceae? Is Allium no longer a member of Lilliaceae? The flowers do remind me of several members of the Amaryllis family, something doesn’t seem quite right here. Please clarify.

  3. Barbara

    One of my favorite alliums, always a nice focal point in the garden. By the way, is it A. cristophii or christophii? I have always thought the last name was correct.

  4. Ron B

    I see paragraph 5 of the current Wikipedia entry on Allium indicates where Allium got put in the Amaryllis Family and that this supersedes it being in the Allium Family.

  5. Eric La Fountaine

    We generally follow the family placement of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. Their assessment placed Allium within Amaryllidaceae in 2012.
    The specific epithet was given to honor a Russian diplomat, named Cristoph who collected the first sample. There has been debate on conserving the name or allowing the spelling with “Ch”, probably adopted by English speakers who generally spell words derived from Christ with an “H”. I think it is generally best to try to preserve the spelling of someone’s personal name when making these decisions.

  6. Ron Dass

    Allium christophii is not in the Wikipedia list of Allium species. The description sounds very similar to A. giganteum. Could these two be the same species?

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