Allium insubricum

Allium insubricum    copyright  2000 Marsha Russell
Allium insubricum is inevitably confused with A. narcissiflorum.
I've heard it said by bulb cognoscenti that A. insubricum is
inferior to A. narcissiflorum.  I've grown several forms of each
and I must disagree.  Both are equally attractive and desirable
species.  The differences are minor, with A. insubricum once
considered a subspecies of A. narcissiflorum. 

In A. insubricum the flower heads remain nodding in
fruit, and the bulb coats are membranous, sparsely
showing fibers, whereas in A. narcissiflorum the flowers
become erect in fruit, and the bulb coats consist of
persistent layers of parallel fibers.


Of all my collection,
‘tis this one I choose.
Difficult to get I’ve been told.

Seedlist upon seedlist I checked through.
And Allium insubricum, I ordered.
Nothing happened the first year, not a single sprout.

Patience, I said and waited another year.
Little green threads appeared.
Threads became leaves in their third year.

Still no flowers and I expected it would not be true.
In the fourth year, to my surprise,
‘twas exactly what it was supposed to be.

Six to eight inches tall,
with great ballerina skirts
from a nodding scape.

Better than the normal color,
reddish purple you know,
These were true pink, a bonus for patience I hope.

Excitement upon me, I scoured all of Europe.
My effort paid off in Switzerland
with great quantities of seed.

Next year will be their fourth,
and mostly reddish purple I expect,
but with fingers crossed I dream of a white.

1996  Marsha Russell


Allium insubricum - deep rose-red form   copyright  2000 Mark McDonough
Allium insubricum comes in many shades of pink,
reddish, to moody purple shades, as does it's
companion A. narcissiflorum. The deep reddish ones
are particularly striking, but I remain undecided about
which color I like best, they're all so beautiful. 


Allium insubricum - sprouting    copyright  2000 Mark McDonough
Allium insubricum emerges in the
spring from dark red leaf bases.  A light,
loamy soil with good drainage seems to it's
liking, with some protection from hot sun,
preferring an open, partially shaded position.
Can be slow to become established, even
recalcitrant in some gardens, but when
conditions are found that it likes and plants
settle in, they make fine, showy clumps.


Top photo by Marsha Russell, other photos by Mark McDonough


 Go backGo to Allium CentralGo back to PlantBuzz


Questions or comments on this page?  Contact Mark McDonough at

Images and textual content copyright 2000 Mark McDonough

This page was last updated on 03/04/01