Monday, May 10, 2010

Walk like an Egyptian (onion)

There are few plants in my garden now that I feel I need to highlight because of how awesome I think they are, one is these is my Egyptian Walking Onion, also known as a Tree Onion:

(this a pic taken of it earlier in the year where it looks more plain jane-y, but later pics show its true glory)

Egyptian Walking onions are interesting plants named for their habit of growing bulblets rather than flowers at the tips of their stalks.  These bulblets sprout while on their "mother" stalk and eventually grow so heavy that the mother stalk begins to bend and lean until the bulblets touch the ground and sprout into the ground to form new plants (or an impatient human takes the bulblets and just plants them elsewhere to his or her liking :)

 (very cool how the bulblet sheath accumulates steam/condensation within.  The curl at the tip makes me think of elf hats... so festive!)

(a bulblet pushing its way out of its bulb sheath)

They are a wonderfully hardy plant from zones 3-9 and begin to form bulblets anytime from late spring to early fall, though I swear mine started in early spring.

In my zone 7b/8a (contested), they are evergreen year around and are grown not only for their delicious, very spicy bulbs/bulblets and thick green onion stems, but for their wonderfully ornamental nature.

(if Medusa could be a plant... here she is)

 I don't eat this plant too often because I love so much how it looks and I want to develop a very large patch before I allow myself to eat them voraciously because though each onion packs a punch, they are small.  For flavor, good.  For volume, yeah, need to wait on that (but they are quite prolific!).  My patch is a couple years old and it has gotten to quite a good size!  Some of the mother stalks are about an inch thick in diameter!

(the papery texture of onions in general is always cool, but Egyptian onions take it to a new level, with an almost sinuous feeling movement their stalks form)

This is one plant I don't think I could live without after encountering it now.  It's useful, virtually pest free, very forgiving of the soil it's grown in and structurally amazing with it's bulges of bulbs and twisty nature, and always makes people (plants lovers or not) say, "What the heck is that?!"