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Welsh onion/Welsh Red onion/Japanese bunching onion

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  • Welsh onion/Welsh Red onion/Japanese bunching onion

    I've been trying to disentangle these. I've always treated onions commercially marketed as spring onions - White Lisbon, North Holland Blood Red etc - as annuals.

    In an attempt to create a patch of self-perpetuating onions I've bought seed of Welsh onion, Welsh Red onion and Japanese bunching onion. I'm wondering whether these are in fact identical, apart presumably from the redness in the Welsh Red, and whether they are also the same as the spring onions I've been growing all along? They all seem to carry the same Latin name of Allium fistulosum.

  • #2
    Very good question. I leave them all as perennials and they all seem to do pretty much the same thing. I think some may be more winter hardy in extreme weather and that may just be the only difference. But I am glad to learn if that is wrong.

    Comment


    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      There is the issue of whether it is a bulbing onion or whether it is a stem onion. If you separate them well, they can all be considered to have a bulb. The difference between a thickened stem and a small bulb is very fluid and a matter of opinion.

    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks. That’s a useful distinction to have in mind.
      I haven’t quite understood where ‘ If you separate them well’ comes into the picture. Do you mean that if you keep separating them and giving them space they will tend more to develop something of a bulb?
      I’m interested in whether you’ve noticed any differences in that tendency amongst the ones you’ve grown? Would it be a question of selection?

    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      I have never been that systematic or indeed selected for anything, just taken what seeds were produced in summer and resowed them right there, next to the clump and let them get on doing their stuff.

      The inner plants in a clump of Welsh Onions are like grass without much swelling of the base of the stem, the outer ones are fatter and more onion like. Keeping the clumps small simply means that more of them are fatter stemmed which suits me in the kitchen. Does however not answer the question whether they are 'bulbs' or not. Just more the size of a 'generic' shop bought 'spring onion' which is better in the kitchen.

      With my method of sowing they can germinate thickly and grow in a very crowded clump, hence the need for spacing a bit better. Last summer I have actually in preparation of moving taken the seeds and not resown. So I will start from seeds this spring.
      Last edited by Galina; 16-02-2020, 08:02.

  • #3
    From what I can gather from the literature and some Japanese seed catalogue descriptions, Welsh/Japanese bunching onions are all A. fisulosum but they don't all exhibit 'bunching'.

    Many Japanese varieties, 'negi', have been selected against the multiplying trait to produce a large single blanched stem, with proportions more akin to leeks than spring onions. It can take up to a year for them to develop to full size, e.g. Shimonita Negi. Others have been selected for tender leafy topgrowth. University of Hawaii field trial shows the wide differences in forms.

    The red variety appears to divide at the base and can be blanched for long pink stems. https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/e...-food/akanegi/
    No idea whether the varieties in trade known as 'Red Welsh', 'Red Beard' and the traditional 'akanegi' are the same strain.

    They're not the same as many other Western spring onions, which are A. cepa, but the variety 'Guardsman' is a cross between the two species.

    A bunch or cluster of spring onions can be produced with A. cepa by utilising certain cultural methods. In Catalonia, 'Calçots' are grown by planting onion bulbs in trenches in autumn and earthing up as they grow. The blanched resprouts, between 1 and 20 per plant, are harvested in winter and spring. 'Blanca Tardana de Lleida' is the traditional variety used, and the number of central growing points (gemmae) per onion bulb determines the number of calçots it will produce. I believe it's possible to cut to top off the bulb to count the gemmae, and proceed to plant the bulb with no ill effects. So one could experiment with market onions - though it wouldn't surprise me if most of these have been selected for a single central growing point.

    Comment


    • Jang
      Jang commented
      Editing a comment
      A great piece of research, triffid. Most helpful and interesting that the non-bunching forms of A. fistulosum play such an important role in Japanese growing and eating. Thanks for posting.
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