the Blue Allium Gallery

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This gallery showcases some of the famous blue-flowered alliums, of which there are only a handful of species.  When using the word blue, I mean true blue and I rule out the legion of species with flowers in shades of mauve and lavender-pink which are too often described as blue. There is also considerable confusion among blue-flowered species, so I hope that this gallery helps clarify the identification of plants in your gardens.  For more information, check out the Blue Alliums Worksheet.


Allium beesianum    copyright  Daniela Goll

Allium cyaneum   copyright  Iza Goroff

Allium beesianum - a beautiful Chinese species that's difficult to come by true-to-name, most often replaced by other species such as A. cyaneum, or other unrelated species.  This fine specimen in Daniela Goll's garden in France is the correct species.  Notice that the stamens are not exserted, and the flowers are funnel-shaped,  with open mouths.  Photo by Daniela Goll.

Allium cyaneum - a popular Chinese allium that blooms in mid summer to fall.  This is a variable species, from tiny dwarfs only a few inches tall, to taller, upright plants like this one.  Notice the open, starry blooms with the telltale long exserted stamens.  Photo by Iza Goroff.

View detail drawing: Allium cyaneum    

Allium sikkimense    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium "threesome"   copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium sikkimense - another beautiful Chinese species that can be difficult to acquire true to name.  It is also frequently confused with  beesianum and cyaneumAllium sikkimense is typically smaller and lower growing than beesianum, the pedicels are very short (yielding a tighter cluster-head look), and the flowers are very narrowly campanulate, almost bottle-shaped and barely opening.  Flowers in July.

Allium caeruleum (on the left) is a commonly seen blue-flowered allium, often available in bulb bins at retail nursery centers each autumn.  This species grows 24"- 30" tall and produces showy bright blue flowers in June - July.  It has small, open, starry florets with ascending stamens that slightly exceed the tepals. This species always has a few small bulbils nestled at the center of the flower head.  Also pictured is A. rotundum (center) and A. cernuum (right).  Allium caeruleum is sometimes confused with A. caesium (see images below).

 

Allium caesium - flower buds    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium caesium - flower head   copyright  2000 Mark McDonough

Allium caesium - Both this species and it's ally caeruleum come from Central Asia.  The two are often confused, although they needn't be, as they are distinctly different.  In this view, notice how the tightly packed buds form a fastigiate column, which results in denser flower heads than caeruleum.

Allium caesium - While the heads are globular like caeruleum, notice that the pedicels are strongly upright. The florets are less open and starry than caeruleum, and are more narrowly campanulate in shape.  The stamens are not exserted.  Flower color is variable from white to azure, but plants I've grown have always been this lovely   sky blue color, with contrasting dark blue midribs.

 

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Questions or comments on this page?  Contact Mark McDonough at antennaria@aol.com.

Images and textual content copyright 2000 Mark McDonough

This page was last updated on 01/07/01