December 3, 2022


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Mystery Plant: Scent evokes not bouquets, but baked potatoes | Home & Backyard garden

Mystery Plant

The fragrance of this week’s Secret Plant will remind you of a well-liked topping you could possibly sprinkle on a loaded baked potato. If you adore onions and garlic, this plant is just one you’ll appreciate retaining in your yard.

“And, most, pricey actors, take in no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.”

— William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Aspiration,” Act 4, Scene 2

What would we do devoid of the genus Allium? I am persuaded that our kitchens and supper tables (and literature) would much duller in its absence.

Allium is what we connect with a “genus,” which is a collective name for any range of carefully linked species. (The plural term for “genus” is “genera,” and a amount of linked genera will be put alongside one another inside a specified family.) Allium is the genus that gives us onions and all their many kinfolk: there are hundreds of wild species, and of class, a number of of them have been cultivated and liked for 1000’s of years. The matter about all of these species is that pretty much invariably give off an oniony or garlicky scent, and to me, that is what would make them so amazing.

The scent comes from a range of unstable sulfur-containing natural compounds that are introduced into the air when the tissues of the plant are wounded. By the way, botanists have traditionally positioned this genus within just the lily relatives (“Liliaceae”), but extra recent remedies have it inside its personal spouse and children, the Alliaceae.

What is your beloved species of allium? How about A. cepa, which gives us the prevalent kitchen onion, as effectively as shallots and scallions — and, of course, Vidalia onions? Or possibly A. sativum, famously recognised around the globe as garlic. Mouth watering and healthy leeks are a cultivar of A. ampeloprasum. Ramps from the Appalachians, with their super-powerful odor, is A. tricoccum, and mild-mannered chives are A. schoenoprasum.