by Stephen Mifsud
   12 Dec 2019      ()
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Allium cepa   (Garden Onion)

Allium cepa   (AMARYLLIDACEAE .) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands at or after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2010 (last update: 12-Jan-2019)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (Oct-2010) Allium cepa retrieved from on 2019-Dec-12

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Allium cepa L.
Published in Sp. Pl. 301 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Cepa vulgaris Garsault
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Amaryllidaceae Jaume St.-Hil (The Daffodil or Amaryllis Family)
27 species from the Amaryllidaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Garden Onion, Bulb Onion

Maltese name(s) :


Status for Malta :

Introduced plants cultivated for agricultural or horticultural purposes but sometimes can be occassionaly found as an escapee close to the site of their original cultivation

Frequency :

Data not available - casual in the wild as a garden/field escape

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE (bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc.)
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection [link]:

Not Protected by Law (LN200/2011 or LN311/2006)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :


Colour of Flowers:


Species Description and Distribution

Habitat in Europe:

Cultivated on a field scale throughout most of Europe for its edible bulbs (onions). Ocassionally, found growing from dumped onions in disturbed areas or outside field borders.

Preferred habitat in Malta:

Agricultural areas, sometimes as an escape from dumped onions

Botanical Description:

Bulbs varying in size and shape from cultivar to cultivar, often depressed-globose and up to 10 cm in diameter; outer tunics membranous. Stem up to 100 cm and up to 30 mm in diameter, tapering from inflated lower part. Leaves up to 10, up to 40 cm and up to 20 mm in diameter, usually almost semicircular in section and slightly flattened on upper side, basal in first year, in second year their bases sheathing the lower 1/6 of the stem. Spathe often 3-valved, persistent, shorter than the umbel. Umbel 4-9 cm in diameter, subglobose or hemispherical, dense, many-flowered; pedicels up to 40 mm, almost equal. Perianth stellate; segments 3-4.5 x 2-2.5 mm, white, with green stripe, slightly unequal, the outer ovate, the inner oblong, obtuse or acute. Stamens exserted; filaments 4-5 mm, the outer subulate, the inner with an expanded base up to 2 mm wide and shortly toothed on each side. Ovary whitish. Capsule c. 5 mm.

Chromosome number:


Distributional range:

All Europe

Native region outside Europe:


Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):

Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):

All Europe

Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(Euro+Med Checklist, 2017) - Country codes

[Bt By Eg Ga Hs It Ju Rf(C E N NW S) Uk(K U)]

Images (6 images)
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-0.
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-1.
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-2.
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-3.
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-4.
   Allium cepa   -   Image Code: ALLCP-5.

Links & Further info

Google Web

Google Images

Yahoo Web

Yahoo Images




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



The Plant List


Vienna Virt. Hb.





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