Botanical Name and Pronunciation:
Allium giganteum (A-lee-um ji-GAN-tee-um)
Onion Flower, Garlic, Flowering Onion
Form and Size:
Its flowers are composed of many star-shaped blossoms, which grow in globe-shaped clusters or in small loose sprays and has a 4 – 5 inch diameter. The leafless stems are about 3 – 4 feet in height.
up to 14 days
summer – fall
Cut stems under water and place in fresh water with flower food.
History and Usage:
A member of the Liliaceae (lily) family, the giant allium is an ornamental relative of onions, leeks and garlic. It originated in Europe, North Africa and western Asia. Allium is the Latin name for garlic, while sphaerocephalum means spherical-headed. Unlike its relatives that are edible, the giant allium makes a beautiful addition to a floral arrangement.
Points of Interest:
Some common relatives are agapanthus, clivia, lycoris and daffodil. When cut or bruised, an onion-like smell will be released, but it does not last long. This smell is less prevalent in giant allium than it is in drumstick allium. It is that smell that gave rise in European folklore to the idea that it imparted good luck and protection against demons. Perhaps the most famous example of this idea comes from the ancient Greek work The Odyssey by Homer. Allium was the fabulous white flower with the black root, the “moly”, that Hermes picked out of the ground and gave to Odysseus to protect him from Circe’s malevolent spells saying, “it will give you power against the day of trouble.” As Hermes said it would, it prevented Circe’s drugged potion from taking effect on Odysseus; she could not turn him into a pig as she had done earlier with his companions. Because of such myths, allium has come to be associated in the language of flowers with good fortune and prosperity.