Onion

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Description

  • English : Onion
  • Sanskrit : -
  • Latin : Allium Cepa
  • Hindi : Pyaaj
  • Gujarati : Dungali
  • Tamil : Venkayam
  • Malayalam : -
  • Telugu : Nrulli
  • Kannad : Nirulli

Onion, Allium cepa, is an herbaceous biennial in the family Liliaceae grown for its edible bulb. The stem of the plant is a flattened disc at the base and the tubular leaves form a pseudostem where their sheaths overlap. The leaves are either erect or oblique and there are 3–8 per plant. The onion plant produces pink or white flowers clustered on stalks. The bulbs are formed just above the flattened stem of the plant by overlapping leaves. The bulb is made up of several layers, each corresponding to a leaf. They are are generally oval but shape can be variable and occur in clusters of 3–18 to a plant. The bulb is protected by a membrane which turns to a papery coat. Onion plants can reach a height of 50 cm (20 in) and are grown as annuals, harvested after one growing season. Onion may also be referred to by cultivar and these include red or purple onion, shallots and spring onions or scallions. The origin of the onion has not been conclusively determined although it is likely to be somewhere in South East Asia where the gene pool is most diverse.

Properties

Onions are hardy, cool season vegetables that grow best at temperatures of 12 to 24 °C (55–75 °F), growing particularly well in areas with cool spring weather and drier, hotter summer weather. They require a fertile, well-draining soil such as clay or silt loams with a pH of 5.5–6.5. The plants do not do well in acidic soils. Onions should be set out in full sun for optimum bulb development. Onions are biennial vegetables and if they are left in the ground for a second year, they will produce flowers and set seed.

Note

The bulb is an edible vegetable and is the most commonly used part of the onion, usually consumed after cooking although it can be eaten fresh. The stems and leaves are also edible.