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Allium cepa aggregatum - G.Don.                
                 
Common Name Potato Onion
Family Alliaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this plant. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[76].
Habitats Not known in wild.
Range Not known in wild.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium cepa aggregatum is a BULB growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

USDA hardiness zone : 4-8


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Allium cepa aggregatum Potato Onion


(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
Allium cepa aggregatum Potato Onion
(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Bulb - raw or cooked[4, 33]. A nice onion flavour, when chopped up finely they make a nice addition to salads and can also be used as a cooked vegetable or as a flavouring in cooked foods[K]. Some of the cultivars are considered to be gourmet onions[183]. Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong onion flavour[K]. Flowers - raw. Used as a garnish on salads. The flowers are somewhat dry and are less pleasant than many other species[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthelmintic;  Antiinflammatory;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  Lithontripic;  
Skin;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

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[4, 7, 21]. When used regularly in the diet it offsets tendencies towards angina, arteriosclerosis and heart attack[254]. It is also useful in preventing oral infection and tooth decay[254]. Baked onions can be used as a poultice to remove pus from sores[254]. Fresh onion juice is a very useful first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings, bites, grazes or fungal skin complaints[7, 201]. When warmed the juice can be dropped into the ear to treat earache[254]. 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[7].
Other Uses
Cosmetic;  Dye;  Hair;  Polish;  Repellent;  Rust.

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent and can also be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects[7]. The plant juice can be used as a rust preventative on metals and as a polish for copper and glass[7]. A yellow-brown dye is obtained from the skins of the bulbs[141, 168]. Onion juice rubbed into the skin is said to promote the growth of hair and to be a remedy for baldness[7]. It is also used as a cosmetic to get rid of freckles[7]. The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles[201]. 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[201].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a sunny sheltered position in a light well-drained fertile soil[1] but tolerates most soils. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3. The potato onion was at one time fairly widely grown as a vegetable, but it has now fallen into virtual disuse[16]. There are still some named forms available[183]. This is a genuinely perennial form of A. cepa, the bulb grows deeper in the soil and divides to produce a number of underground bulbs each year in much the same way as shallots. Large bulbs divide to form 5 - 15 bulbs whilst smaller bulbs grow into one large bulb[160]. According to one report, the bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1], whilst another report says that they should be planted just below soil level[4]. Onions grow well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but they inhibit the growth of legumes[18, 20, 54]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[201]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Seed is seldom produced by this plant[4]. Division in late summer. Harvest the bulbs as the foliage dies down and store them in a cool place. In areas with mild winters the bulbs are traditionally replanted on the shortest day of the year, but in colder areas it is best to wait until late winter or even early spring[4]. Plant the bulbs only just below the soil surface[4].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
G.Don.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[141]Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK.
Some suggested alternative commercial crops for Britain. Readable. Produced by a University study group.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
M. Buchanan Sun Nov 18 2007
I am looking for a source for this onion to be grown in British Columbia, Canada. I cannot seem to find anyone that will sell these heirloom onions! Can anyone help me! Thanks.
Elizabeth H.
R. Joseph Sat Dec 1 2007
Yellow potato onions are available from www.tateronions.com for US$15. That buys you about 3 dozen bulbs. I planted some earlier this fall that sprouted fine. I just ordered some more this week. They will sell out, but still have them as of this week. If you wish you may contact me thru my website: www.imagesbykehl.com. Happy growing!

tater onions Yellow Potato Onions available for $15

Elizabeth H.
R. Joseph Sun Dec 2 2007
Yellow potato onions are available from www.tateronions.com for US$15. That buys you about 3 dozen bulbs. I planted some earlier this fall that sprouted fine. I just ordered some more this week. They will sell out, but still have them as of this week. If you wish you may contact me thru my website: www.imagesbykehl.com. Happy growing!

tater onions Yellow Potato Onions available for $15

Elizabeth H.
M. LaFleur Wed Jan 9 2008
I noticed on the tateronions site that they do not ship outside the continental United States. However, I think the following site does ship to Canada, seems I saw a mention. I also believe the price is cheaper, though perhaps with shipping added it comes out about the same. http://www.southernexposure.com Do a site search on potato onion. Both ship in fall. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (in Virginia) has white and yellow.
Elizabeth H.
Anna Greenwood Wed Dec 17 2008
I am looking for a source of this bulb in the UK. Can anyone help?
Elizabeth H.
Fri Apr 24 2009
potato onion bulbs from the uk are sold here http://www.poyntzfieldherbs.co.uk/catalogue2.asp?searchterm=allium and also here http://www.laurelfarmherbs.co.uk/
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