SCIENTIFIC NAME: Allium
COMMON NAME(S): Onion, garlic, leek, shallot
FAMILY: ALLIACEAE - Onion family
ORIGIN: Northern Hemisphere, 500-700 spp.
HABITAT: Gardens, cultivated landscapes, supermarket produce, pastures
HEIGHT: Generally less than 2'
LEAVES: Linear or strap-shaped; emitting sulphurous odor when bruised
FLOWERS: Small, round, but showy in number in some species; variously colored, borne at the top of a leafless stem
FLOWERING SEASON: Spring, summer
FRUITS: Capsules with black seeds
ALLERGENIC PRINCIPLES: Allicin, alliin (alkaloids), allylsuphide and sulphur-containing oils
ALLERGENIC PROPERTIES: Dermatological, eye irritant
COMMENTS: In addition to the commonplace eye irritation caused by the volatile oils, both irritant dermatitis and eczema have been reported from handling various species of this large genus (400 or more species). A. sativum L. is garlic, A. cepa L. is the onion and shallot, and A. schoenoprasum L. is chives. Many other species are grown for their ornamental flowers.