Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng.

Garlic Chives

Allium tuberosum plant

Family - Liliaceae

Habit - Perennial forb from a bulb, strongly colonial.

Stem - Aerial stems erect, to 60 cm, scapose, solid, terete, arising from bulb. Bulb brown, fibrous.


Leaves - Alternate, crowded near base of stem, strap-shaped, flattened, solid, entire, glabrous.

Allium_tuberosum_leavesStem and leaf bases.


Inflorescence - Umbels with 20-50 flowers, hemispheric to flat-topped.


Flowers - Actinomorphic, to 1 cm diameter, on stalks 1-3 cm. Perianth consisting of 3 petals and 3 sepals, these morphologically similar, spreading, white. Stamens 6, included. Ovary superior, 3-lobed, 3-locular, usually with 2 ovules per locule. Style linear, with unlobed capitate stigma.


Allium_tuberosum_calyxPerianth, ventral view.

Fruits - 3-Locular capsules. Seeds shiny, irregular in shape, black.


Flowering - August - September.

Habitat - Disturbed areas, sun to partial shade.

Origin - Native to China.

Other info. - This species is uncommon, only sporadically escaping cultivation. Large patches can be quite showy. In Missouri it is not truly naturalized, as populations do not seem to persist. The plant is edible, with a flavor similar to garlic, and it is frequently used in Asian cuisines.

The familial classification of the genus Allium is controversial, with some authors segregating it into Amaryllidaceae or Alliaceae.

Photographs taken at Young Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 8-30-2016; also along Katy Trail west of Augusta, St. Charles County, MO, 9-20-2017 (SRTurner).