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29 November 2020 | Growing Shallots | Small Onions | Allium cepa |

photo I started growing spring onions a few months back from shallot bulbs, like most people did as it was one of the easiest edible plants to grow in the pot. Spring onions generally refers to immature onion plants harvested in the spring. While growing them, I had allowed 2 plants to continue to grow to their maturity stage with the hope to see whether they could produce flowers. They did.

photo After having the usual photo session with the flowers, I left them alone. The flowers withered and the second flower stalk appeared not too long after. The ball of flowers at the end of the long flower stalk looked really nice. Unlike the first flower head, the second one looked sturdier. Amazingly, multiple tiny seed pods appeared after the flowers dried up. I was quite excited with this new observation which meant that I could have shallot seeds soon. Sure enough, the pod turned brown and started to open up at the distal end showing the black colour seeds. To my surprise, one of the plant even produced 5 healthy-looking shallot bulbs at its base though the other plant produced only a tiny bulb.

Actually, I could not really differentiate a shallot from an onion. Another common name for shallot was small onion. I had assumed that the ones that I grew were shallots since this was the name used by most folks. The 2 terms seemed to be used interchangeably by many people. The botanical name of shallot was often referred to as Allium ascalonicum while that of onion was Allium cepa. According to Wikipedia website, Allium ascalonicum is a synonym of Allium cepa and shallot is a botanical variety or cultivar group of Allium cepa. However, GBIF and Kew Science websites indicated Allium ascalonicum as an accepted name, meaning the two were supposed to be different plant species. Also, Plant List website listed Allium ascalonicum as a misapplied name of Allium cepa. While the taxonomy of this plant might be quite confusing, it would be of no concern to those of us who simply enjoy growing and consuming the plant.

The shallot-growing journey had given me the opportunity to capture some nice pictures of the plant and their features at different stages of its life cycle. I am likely to try growing them from the seeds that I had collected.

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