This species is considered to be no more than a form of Allium subhirsutum by many authorities, such as the Flora of Somalia[
]. However, we are following the treatment in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, which treats it as distinct[
Allium subhirsutum spathaceum (Steud. ex A.Rich.) Regel
Allium spathaceum is a perennial plant. It produces two grass-like leaves up to 22cm long from a small, globose bulb.
No specific records of use have been seen for this plant, but it is closely related to another Allium species that is used for food, so this species is likely to be harvested from the wild for local use.
Northeast Africa - Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia.
Found at elevations around 1,500 metres[
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Easily grown in a warm sunny position[
]. The plants require a period of rest, when they are best kept dry, but they do succeed in a well-drained sunny position in the open garden[
]. Prefers a rich moist but well-drained soil[
Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
The following uses are for the related species Allium subhirsutum. The uses for this species are likely to be very similar[
Bulb - raw or cooked. The bulb is about 15mm in diameter[
]. It is used like garlic as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods[
]. The flavour is somewhat milder with a slight sweetness, and it can be used in much greater quantities than garlic[
]. The bulbs are harvested in mid summer once the plant has died down, and will store for at least 6 months[
]. The globose bulb is 12 - 18mm in diameter.
Leaves - raw or cooked. The leaves have a pleasant texture, they are slightly sweet with a mild garlic flavour and can be available all winter[
Flowers - raw[
]. A mild garlic flavour with a delicate sweetness[
]. Used in the spring as a garnish on salads, they are attractive to both the eye and the tongue[
Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system[
Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes[
]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[
The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. It germinates quickly and can be grown on in the nursery for the first year or more, planting out the dormant bulbs once they have developed sufficiently.
Division after the plants have died down. Very easy, the bulbs divide freely and can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.
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