Leaves - raw or cooked. There are some cultivars, the spring onions, that have been selected for their leaves and are used in salads whilst still young and actively growing - the bulb is much smaller than in other cultivars and is usually eaten with the leaves. By successional sowing, they can be available at any time of the year. Flowers - raw. Used as a garnish on salads. The flowers are somewhat dry and are less pleasant than many other species[K].The seeds are sprouted and eaten. They have a delicious onion flavour[K].
The plant juice can be used as a rust preventative on metals and as a polish for copper and glass. A yellow-brown dye is obtained from the skins of the bulbs. Onion juice rubbed into the skin is said to promote the growth of hair and to be a remedy for baldness. It is also used as a cosmetic to get rid of freckles.The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles. A spray made by pouring enough boiling water to cover 1kg of chopped unpeeled onions is said to increase the resistance of other plants to diseases and parasites.
The bulb is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, lithontripic, stomachic and tonic. When used regularly in the diet it offsets tendencies towards angina, arteriosclerosis and heart attack. It is also useful in preventing oral infection and tooth decay. Baked onions can be used as a poultice to remove pus from sores. Fresh onion juice is a very useful first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings, bites, grazes or fungal skin complaints. When warmed the juice can be dropped into the ear to treat earache. It also aids the formation of scar tissue on wounds, thus speeding up the healing process, and has been used as a cosmetic to remove freckles.Bulbs of red cultivars are harvested when mature in the summer and used to make a homeopathic remedy. This is used particularly in the treatment of people whose symptoms include running eyes and nose.
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Onions are best grown in a Mediterranean climate, the hot dry summers ensuring that the bulbs are ripened fully. For best growth, however, cool weather is desirable at the early stages of growth. Plants are frost-tolerant but prolonged temperatures below 10°c cause the bulb to flower. Optimum growth takes place at temperatures between 20 and 25°c. Bulb formation takes place in response to long-day conditions. Plants are perennial but the cultivated forms often die after flowering in their second year though they can perennate by means of off-sets. The onion was one of the first plants to be cultivated for food and medicine. It is very widely cultivated in most parts of the world for its edible bulb and leaves, there are many named varieties capable of supplying bulbs all the year round. This species was derived in cultivation from A. oschaninii. Most forms are grown mainly for their edible bulbs but a number of varieties, the spring onions and everlasting onions, have been selected for their edible leaves. There are several sub-species:-
Allium cepa 'Perutile' is the everlasting onion with a growth habit similar to chives, it is usually evergreen and can supply fresh leaves all winter. Allium cepa aggregatum includes the shallot and the potato onion. These are true perennials, the bulb growing at or just below the surface of the ground and increasing by division. Plants can be divided annually when they die down in the summer to provide bulbs for eating and propagation. Allium cepa proliferum is the tree onion, it produces bulbils instead of flowers in the inflorescence. These bulbils have a nice strong onion flavour and can be used raw, cooked or pickled.
Onions grow well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but they inhibit the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other.Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Problems, pests & diseases
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Polycultures & Guilds
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This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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