Allium fistulosum L. (Welsh onion, Japanese bunching onion) is a perennial onion. Other names that may be applied to this plant include green onion, spring onion, scallion, escallion, and salad onion. These names are ambiguous, as they may also be used to refer to any young green onion stalk, whether grown from Welsh onions, common onions, or other similar members of the genus Allium (see scallion). The species is very similar in taste and odor to the related common onion, Allium cepa, and hybrids between the two (tree onions) exist. The Welsh onion, however, does not develop bulbs, and possesses hollow leaves ("fistulosum" means "hollow") and scapes. Large varieties of the Welsh onion resemble the leek, such as the Japanese 'negi', whilst smaller varieties resemble chives. Many Welsh onions can multiply by forming perennial evergreen clumps. Next to culinary use, it is also grown in a bunch as an ornamental plant.
Historically, the Welsh onion was known as the cibol. In Cornwall they are known as chibbles.
The name "Welsh onion" has become a misnomer in modern English, as Allium fistulosum is not indigenous to Wales or particularly common in Welsh cuisine (the green Allium common to Wales is the leek, A. ampeloprasum, the national vegetable of Wales). "Welsh" preserves the original meaning of the Old English word "welisc", or Old German "welsche", meaning "foreign" (compare wal- in "walnut", of the same etymological origin). The species originated in Asia, possibly Siberia or China. In Wales, the spring onion has a dialectal variation, jibbons or sibwns (pronounced 'shiboons') which originates from the French 'ciboule.' The species has also become naturalized in Alaska and in the Northwest Territories of Canada, and in scattered locales in the contiguous United States.
Welsh onions are used in Russia in the spring for adding green leaves to salads.
The Welsh onion is an ingredient in Asian cuisine, especially in East and Southeast Asia. It is particularly important in China, Japan, and Korea, hence the other English name for this plant, 'Japanese bunching onion'. The Japanese name is negi. Common onions were introduced to East Asia in the 19th century, but A. fistulosum remains more popular and widespread.
Known as escallion, the Welsh onion is an ingredient in Jamaican cuisine, in combination with thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic and allspice (called pimenta). Recipes with escallion sometimes suggest leek as a substitute in salads. Jamaican dried spice mixtures using escallion are available commercially.
The Jamaican name is probably a variant of scallion, the term used loosely for the spring onion and various other plants in the genus Allium.
Allium fistulosum - MHNT
- The Plant List
- Floridata: Allium fistulosum
- Thompson, Sylvia (1995). The Kitchen Garden. Bantam Books.
- Ward, A: The Encyclopedia of Food and Beverage, New York, 1911. Retrieved January 5, 2007.
- Flora of North America v 26 p 244.
- BONAP (Biota of North America Project) floristic synthesis, Allium fistulosum
- Fritsch, R.M.; N. Friesen (2002). "Chapter 1: Evolution, Domestication, and Taxonomy". In H.D. Rabinowitch and L. Currah. Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 0-85199-510-1.
- "Recipe - Chicken Negimaki - NYTimes.com". The New York Times. August 13, 2010. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- "Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Standard Specification for Escallion". Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica. April 1987 (revised June 1999). Retrieved August 20, 2010.
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