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Amaryllidaceae Allium cepa L. (Common onion group)

Source: Magness et al. 1971

Onions, grown mainly for the dry bulbs, are the most important of the vegetable bulb crops. They are also grown less extensively for the green leaves and succulent leaf bases and young bulbs. They may be grown from seed planted in place, or from small bulb sets grown in special areas. The leaves are tubular, up to 18 inches in height, 0.33- to 0.25-inch in diameter, generally smooth. In the North, seeds, young plants or sets are field planted in early spring; and bulbs are harvested in the late summer or fall. In the South, seed or sets are planted in the fall for earlv summer harvest. Bulbs range from oblate to oval in shape and from 1 inch to over 3 inches diameter. They vary in pungency from mild to very strong. The top of the mature bulb commonly extends slightly above the soil, so may be partially exposed. The outer lawers, or scales, are generally removed prior to use. Cipollini is a name used for small bulbs.

Season, planting to harvest: About 6 months, varies.

Production in the U.S.: About 1,300,000 tons.

Use: Culinary, salads.

Part of plant consumed: Bulbs, after outer papery scales are removed. Also less extensively as green onions from sets.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch