Allium siculum

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Honey garlic
Allium siculum in bloom.jpg
Allium siculum
Allium siculum foliage.jpg
Allium siculum foliage
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. siculum
Binomial name
Allium siculum

Allium siculum, known as honey garlic,[4] Sicilian honey lily, Sicilian honey garlic, or Mediterranean bells, is a European and Turkish species of plants genus Allium. It is native to the regions around the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and grown in other regions as an ornamental and as a culinary herb.[1]

Habitat and Description[edit]

Allium siculum is native to Turkey, Crimea, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, southern France including Corsica, and Italy (Basilicata, Abruzzo, Umbria, Toscana, Sicily, Sardinia),[5] growing in damp, shady woods. It has showy clusters of gracefully drooping bell-shaped blossoms produced in May to early June sitting atop a tall green stem, to 1.2 m in height. The florets (blossoms), suspended on long drooping pedicels, are cream colored with a maroon streak down each petal, have white flared tips, and are tinted green at the base. The blossoms are followed by decorative, erect seed pods in late summer. The blue-gray foliage is triangular in cross-section and strongly twisting along the length of the ascending leaves.[6][7] A penetrating, skunky odor is released when the plant is cut.


Allium siculum is a member of a small subgenus Nectaroscordum of Allium, which consists of only this species and Allium tripedale.[8]



Said to be resistant to deer and other herbivores, Allium siculum is used as a seasoning in Bulgaria[citation needed]. It is also planted in flower gardens because of the showy, drooping blossoms and unusual twisted foliage.


When Allium siculum is crushed, it gives off a chemical that makes the eyes water, similar to chopping onions. The lachrymatory agent (Z)-butanethial S-oxide, along with several 1-butenyl thiosulfinates are detected by mass spectrometry using a DART ion source. (Z)-Butanethial S-oxide (the higher homolog of syn-propanethial-S-oxide, the onion lachrymatory agent) isolated from the plant was shown to be identical to a synthetic sample. The precursor to the lachrymatory compound, (RS,RC)-(E)-S-(1-butenyl) cysteine S-oxide (homoisoalliin), was isolated from homogenates of A. siculum, and a closely related species, Allium tripedale, and fully characterized.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Plant List, Allium siculum
  3. ^ Kubec, R.; Kim, S.; McKeon, D. M.; Musah, R. A. (2002). "Isolation of S-butylcysteine sulfoxide and six butyl-containing thiosulfinates from Allium siculum". Journal of Natural Products Chemistry. 65: 960–964. doi:10.1021/np020064i. 
  4. ^ "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  5. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Aglio della Sicilia, Allium siculum
  6. ^ "Allium Species Four". Pacific Bulb Society. 
  7. ^ "Nectaroscordum siculum". Royal Horticultural Society. 
  8. ^ Friesen, N.; Fritsch, R. M.; Blattner, F. R. (2006). "Phylogeny and new intrageneric classification of Allium (Alliaceae) based on nuclear ribosomal DNA ITS sequences" (pdf). Aliso. 22: 372–395. 
  9. ^ Block, E. (2010). Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 0854041907. 
  10. ^ Kubec, R.; Cody, R. B.; Dane, A. J.; Musah, R. A.; Schraml, J.; Vattekkatte, A.; Block, E. (2010). "Applications of DART Mass Spectrometry in Allium Chemistry. (Z)-Butanethial S-Oxide and 1-Butenyl Thiosulfinates and their S-(E)-1-Butenylcysteine S-Oxide Precursor from Allium siculum". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58 (2): 1121–1128. doi:10.1021/jf903733e. PMID 20047275.