- Tree onions, Allium proliferum, are a strong-growing onion with a bunch of bulblets where a normal onion would have flowers.
- Their species name is A. proliferum, although they have many characteristics of the A. cepa, and are also commonly called Top Onions, Topset Onions, Walking Onions, or Egyptian onions.
- Tree Onion bulblets will sprout and grow while still on the original stalk, which may bend down under the weight of the new growth, giving rise to the name, walking onion.
Know your Tree Onion - Botany
- Recent research has shown that the tree onion is a cross between Allium cepa, the cultivated bulb onion, and Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion (some may currently treat the Tree Onion as Allium cepa Proliferum Group, which is deprecated).
- This phenomenon of forming bulblets instead of flowers is also seen in garlic and other various wild species of Allium.
- Bulblets in tree onions are generally very small, usually within .5 cm to 3 cm in diameter, although sizes may differ out of this range, from time to time.
- A similar relative to the tree onion is the pearl onion and a few other, nameable varieties.
- Tree onions are hardy perennials.
- They are unlikely to produce in their first year, but will develop a good root system ready for producing bulbs the following summer.
Know your Tree Onion - Cultivation
- They like good fertile soil in full sun to do well, just the same as other members of the onion family.
- Keep well watered.
- After about three years, it is a good idea to dig up your plant and replant it in composted and freshly dug ground. This way it will continue to do well.
- The clumps can be divided at this time to make more plants.
Know your Tree Onion - Medicinal Uses
- Although rarely used specifically as a medicinal herb, the onion has a wide range of beneficial actions on the body and when eaten (especially raw) on a regular basis will promote the general health of the body.
- 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.
Know your Tree Onion - Uses
- Tree onion stems and bulbs are very spicy "hot" and need to be used very sparingly in any cooking.
- Mixed with jalepeno pepper and tablespoon of liquid dish soap and some water, the result is an excellent plant spray which is very effective in repelling aphids, cucumber beetles, squash bugs and similar pests.
- The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent and can also be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects.
- 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.