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Tree onion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tree onion
Onion stalks with bulblets, or miniature onions grown at the top of the stalk.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
A. × proliferum
Binomial name
Allium × proliferum
  • Allium cepa var. proliferum (Moench) Regel
  • Allium fistulosum var. viviparum Makino
  • Allium fistulosum f. viviparum (Makino) M.Hiroe
  • Allium multitabulatum S. Cicina
  • Allium multitabulatum S. Cicina
  • Allium × wakegi Araki
  • Cepa × prolifera Moench

The tree onion (Allium × proliferum) is a perennial plant similar to the common onion (A. cepa), but with a cluster of bulblets where a normal onion would have flowers. Tree onions are also known as topsetting onions, walking onions, or Egyptian onions. Genomic evidence has conclusively shown that they are a diploid hybrid of the shallot and the Welsh onion (A. fistulosum).[2][3][4] However, some sources may still treat the tree onion as A. cepa var. proliferum or A. cepa Proliferum Group.

Tree onion bulblets will sprout and grow while still on the original stalk. The bulblets are usually marble-sized, between 0.5 cm to 3 cm in diameter. They may bend down under the weight of the new growth and take root some distance from the parent plant, giving rise to the name "walking onion". It has been postulated that the name "Egyptian onion" derived from Romani people[5] bringing tree onions to Europe from the Indian subcontinent. The phenomenon of forming bulblets (bulbils) instead of flowers is also seen in top-setting garlic and other alliums, which sometimes may also be referred to as top onions or tree onions.[6]

Also known as turfed stone leek, it may be cultivated commercially and for foliage.[7][8] It is described as a shallot which can be grown in tropical conditions.[9]

Many tree onions are very strong flavoured, although some cultivars are relatively mild and sweet.[5] The underground bulbs are particularly tough-skinned and pungent,[10] and can be quite elongate, like leeks,[10] or in some types may form bulbs up to 5 cm across.[5] Young plants may be used as scallions in the spring, and the bulblets may be used in cooking similarly to regular onions, or preserved by pickling.[10]

Culinary use[edit]


The plant is known as wakegi (ワケギ) "split scallion" in Japan. Considered a specialty of the Hiroshima Prefecture, it is used in local cooking similar to other scallions.[11]


In Korea, Allium × proliferum along with A. fistulosum is called pa (, "scallion"), while common onions are called yangpa (양파, "Western scallion"). While A. × proliferum is called jjokpa (쪽파, "separated scallion"), A. fistulosum is called either daepa (대파, "big scallion") or silpa (실파, "thread scallion") depending on the size. Unlike daepa and silpa, which are usually used as a spice, herb, or garnish, jjokpa is often used as the main ingredient of various scallion dishes in Korean cuisine. Common dishes made with jjokpa include pajeon (scallion pancakes) and pa-kimchi (scallion kimchi).[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Allium ×proliferum". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – via The Plant List. Note that this website has been superseded by World Flora Online
  2. ^ Friesen, N. & M. Klaas (1998). "Origin of some vegetatively propagated Allium crops studied with RAPD and GISH". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 45 (6): 511–523. doi:10.1023/A:1008647700251. S2CID 26205471.
  3. ^ Yamashita, Kenichiro; Tashiro, Yosuke (2001). "RFLP Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA in Wakegi Onion". Engei Gakkai Zasshi. 70 (2): 232–234. doi:10.2503/jjshs.70.232.
  4. ^ James L. Brewster (1 January 2008). Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums. CABI. pp. 152–3. ISBN 978-1-84593-622-8.
  5. ^ a b c Ruttle, Jack. "Confessions of an Onion Addict". National Gardening Association. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Allium | Piedmont Master Gardeners". A few alliums, such as A. roseum and A. sphaerocephalon produce aerial bulbils in the flower head.
  7. ^ Haim D. Rabinowitch; Lesley Currah (2002). Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. CABI. pp. 87–8. ISBN 978-0-85199-510-6.
  8. ^ Vincent E. Rubatzky; Mas Yamaguchi (6 December 2012). World Vegetables: Principles, Production, and Nutritive Values. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 307–8. ISBN 978-1-4615-6015-9.
  9. ^ Jaime Prohens-Tomás; Fernando Nuez (6 December 2007). Vegetables II: Fabaceae, Liliaceae, Solanaceae, and Umbelliferae. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 124, 152. ISBN 978-0-387-74110-9.
  10. ^ a b c Chandoha, Walter. "Egyptian Onions are the Easiest" (PDF). Cornell University Cooperative Extension. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  11. ^ "わけぎの需給動向". 独立行政法人農畜産業振興機構. Retrieved 11 March 2022.