Onion, Tree

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Onion, Tree

Botanical Name: Alliurn cepa, var. proliferum Synonym: L'oignon d'Egypte.
Part Used: Bulb. (Onions are a valuable disinfectant. Country people hang up a string of Onions as a protection against an infectious disease, and it has constantly been observed that the Onions will take the disease while the inmates remain immune. For this reason it is important to examine Onions before they are cooked, and to discard any which are imperfect. - EDITOR.)

The Tree Onion is a peculiar kind of Onion that produces at the top of a strong stem about 2 feet high, instead of seeds, a cluster of small bulblets, green at first, but becoming of a brownish-red colour, and about the size of hazel nuts, the stems bearing so heavily that they often require some support.

This singular variety of Onion was introduced into this country from Canada in 1820. The French call it 'l'oignon d'Egypte,' but there is no proof that it is a native of that country. It is quite probable that it is the common Onion introduced from France into Canada by the early colonists and changed by the climate. Besides the stem Onions, a few effects are also produced underground.

The Tree Onion is propagated from the little stem bulbs alone, which are set in February, 2, inches deep and 4 inches apart, in rows 8 inches asunder. When planted in spring, these small bulbs form large ones by the end of the year, but do not produce any bulblets until the following year. When the bulbs are matured, they can be preserved in a cool place after they have been allowed to dry in the sun for a brief period. They are flat and of a coppery colour, their flesh being considered tolerably agreeable to the taste, but rather deficient in flavour. The bulblets are excellent for pickling and keep very well, though the large bulbs do not always keep very long.

Other Species: A variety of the Tree Onion, called the Catawissa Onion, or Perennial Tree Onion, was introduced from America thirty or forty years ago. It is distinguished from the Ordinary Tree Onion by the great vigour of its growth and the rapidity with which the bulblets commence to grow without being detached from the top of the stem. They have hardly attained their full size when they emit stems, which also produce bulblets, and in favourable seasons this second tier of bulblets will emit green shoots, leaves and barren stems, bringing the height of the plant up to over 2 1/2 feet. Only a small number of bulblets, generally two or three on each stem, are thus proliferous. The rest do not sprout in the first year and can be used for propagation. The plant is perennial, with long fibrous roots, and may be propagated by division of the tufts, in the same manner as Chives. No offsets are produced underground. A small bed of these is growing at the Whins: (the author's house at Chalfont St Peter. - Editor) they are very hardy, having lived outdoors in open ground all through the severe weather experienced in the early part of 1917. Moles greatly dislike the smell of Onions, and if one is planted in each mole run as it shows up, the mole will leave the ground altogether.