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Botanical Name : Allium hookeri
Species: A. hookeri
Synonyms: Allium tsoongii
Common Names: Hooker chives, Phulun Zung (in India), Kuan ye jiu (in China)
Habitat : Allium hookeri is native to E. Asia – Southern China, India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The plant is widely cultivated outside its native range, and valued as a food item in much of South and Southeast Asia. It grows in forests, forest margins, moist places and meadows at elevations from 1400 – 4200 metres.
Allium hookeri is a bulb growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in). It produces thick, fleshy roots and a cluster of thin bulbs. Scapes are up top 60 cm tall. Leaves are flat and narrow, about the same length as the scapes but only 1 cm across. Umbels are crowded with many white or greenish-yellow flowers. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
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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.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors at least in the milder parts of the country. The plant is cultivated as a food crop in southern China. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. 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. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. The plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season, pot up the divisions in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing well and then plant them out into their permanent positions.
Bulb – raw or cooked. Leaves – raw or cooked. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads.
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.
The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.
Known Hazards : Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.