Description: Herb, parts usually with onion- or garlic-like odour when crushed; bulbs solitary or clustered, sometimes surrounded by basal bulblets.
Leaves solid or hollow, flat, triquetrous or terete.
Inflorescence umbellate, flowers sometimes partly or entirely replaced by sessile bulbils. Tepals free or slightly united, white to pink, sometimes with a greenish midvein. Stamens inserted at base of perianth; filaments simple or 3-fid, linear or broadened. Ovules usually 2 per loculus; style gynobasic; stigma capitate or 3-fid.
Capsule globose to ovoid; seeds usually 3–6, angled or subglobose.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 500–700 species, Northern Hemisphere. Australia: c. 12 species (naturalized), N.S.W., Vic., Tas., S.A., W.A.
Several are cultivated for culinary purposes; these include Garlic (A. sativum L.), Leek (A. porrum L.), Onion, (A. cepa L. including A. ascalonicum auct. non. L., A. salota Dostal) and Chives (A. schoenoprasum L.).
Text by D. C. Godden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Umbel loose; leaves almost basal; scape flaccid to 3-angled or 3-angled||2|
|Umbel compact; leaves sheathing half to two-thirds of scape; scape terete||3|
|2||Scape always erect; perianth ascending; stigma entire; seeds without elaiosome||Allium neapolitanum|
|Scape often flaccid; perianth pendent to reflexed; stigma 3-fid; seeds with elaiosome|
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|3||Bulblets absent; leaves sheathing half to two-thirds of scape, hollow in lower part; spathe persistent with two unequal, elongated lobes much longer than pedicels||Allium oleraceum|
|Bulblets present; leaves sheathing up to half of scape; spathe caducous or, if persistent, shorter than pedicels|
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|4||Leaves solid, flat or channelled, 15–30 mm wide; bulbils absent; spathe persistent||Allium ampeloprasum|
|Leaves hollow, cylindrical, 3–6 mm wide; bulbils present; spathe caducous|
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