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Allium cepa proliferum - (Moench) Regel.
Common Name Tree Onion
Family Alliaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
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 the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Allium cepa proliferum Tree Onion

Allium cepa proliferum Tree Onion
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium cepa proliferum 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.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

The plant forms small bulbs at the top of the flowering stem, these can be eaten raw or cooked[16, 33]. They have a strong onion flavour and are often used as pickled onions or added to salads[K]. As long as the bulbils are dried properly at harvest time, they store well[4]. Bulb - raw or cooked. The bulb can be up to 4cm in diameter and has a strong onion flavour[K]. Chopped into slices, it makes a good addition to salads and can also be used as a vegetable or as a flavouring in cooked foods[K]. Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong onion flavour, it makes a nice flavouring in salads though it should not be harvested in quantity because this would reduce the yield of bulbils[K]. The leaves are produced from late autumn, though we have found that harvesting them at this time will often encourage diseases such as mildew[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 position in a light well-drained soil[1] but succeeds in most soils that are in good condition[16]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1]. Some modern works have moved this plant from A. cepa, seeing it as being of hybrid origin with A. fistulosum and therefore renaming in A. x proliferum. The tree onion is a genuinely perennial form of A. cepa that is sometimes grown in the herb garden for its edible bulbils. Plants rarely if ever produce seed, instead the flowering head is comprised of a number of small onions or bulbils[16, 33]. Plants are propagated by means of these bulbils or by dividing the main bulb that grows underground[K]. By no means a heavily productive plant, though the bulbils are very well flavoured and the plant is fairly easily grown[K]. Its main problem is that slugs seem to be attracted to it and can eat to death even well-established plants[K]. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes[18, 20, 54]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[201]. Said to be immune to onion root fly[16]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Harvest bulbils in late summer and replant immediately or store them in a cool dry frost-free place and plant them out in late winter or early spring. Division of the bulbs after the leaves die down in late summer.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Allium acuminatumHooker's Onion, Tapertip onion32
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Allium altaicum 32
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Allium ampeloprasum babingtoniiBabington's Leek33
Allium angulare 32
Allium angulosumMouse Garlic32
Allium atropurpureum 32
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Allium bodeanum 32
Allium bolanderiBolander's Onion32
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Allium canadenseCanadian Garlic, Meadow garlic, Fraser meadow garlic, Hyacinth meadow garlic42
Allium canadense mobilenseCanadian Garlic52
Allium carinatumKeeled Garlic32
Allium carolinianum 32
Allium cepaOnion, Garden onion53
Allium cepa aggregatumPotato Onion43
Allium cepa ascalonicumShallot53
Allium cernuumNodding Onion, New Mexican nodding onion52
Allium chinenseRakkyo42
Allium condensatum 32
Allium cupanii 32
Allium douglasiiDouglas' Onion32
Allium dregeanumWild Onion32
Allium drummondiiPrairie Onion, Drummond's onion32
Allium fistulosumWelsh Onion52
Allium flavumSmall Yellow Onion, Ornamental Onion22
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Expert comment
(Moench) Regel.
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
keith exelby Wed Jan 31 2007
my father always grew tree-onions [in the 1940s] but I have not been able to buy any seed bulbs can you name a supplier Keith Exelby
Elizabeth H.
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future Mon Mar 5 2007
There are a number of suppliers in Britain. For details visit the Plant Finder at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp
Elizabeth H.
Matt Cavens Sat May 23 2009
If anybody grows or knows a supplier for the "Norris Egyptian" please could they get in touch. I grow the other 3 varieties of this onion and are willing to swap.
Elizabeth H.
Jo Blair Mon Sep 14 2009
I am also looking for specific cultivars of allium proliferum as all the companies I have looked at only supply non-named varieties. Anyone got any contacts that would help me? Thanks
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Subject : Allium cepa proliferum  

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