Walking Onion, Egyptian onion, Perennial Onion cepa x proliferum

Perennial onion

Perennial onion in late spring

By 12 August my prolific perennial onions have already been shared with others and I still have lots of bulblets. Visitors to the garden are always fascinated by the way these walking onions bowed over by the weight of the clusters of topsets, if left on their own, can plants themselves for next year’s harvest.

I received mine from a very dear friend Ed, whose garden dates back at least to the 1980s? Since then I have been able to share a lot as well. They are leggy plants and fall over with the weight of the topsets so the need a special place in the garden. I have them with my chives for now.

In her article published in Calgary Gardening Janet Melrose described how the perennial onion grows so well in Calgary’s climate. It is a member of the Allium genus, known as “tree onion, topset onion, walking onion, Egyptian onion and perennial onion.” It is also named “A. cepa var. bulbiferum, viviparum, multiplicans, proliferum.” 

Although Melrose recommends fall transplanting, they seem to be so hardy they survive planting in spring and even in summer.

Melrose is unsure of the origin of the name Egyptian onion but did mention that at the time of the Pharoahs, Egyptians believed that “the spherical shape of the bulb and concentric rings of the onions represented eternal life,” but she did not think that was the reason for this common name.

Melrose mentioned that the early leaves are mild and delicious, tasting like spring onions. The topsets are spicy. In early fall the “pungent shallot-looking bulbs” can be harvested.


Melrose, Janet. “Edible Portrait: Perennial Onion.”  Calgary Gardening. Calgary Horticultural Society. August/September 2014. Volume 28. Issue 7. Page 5.


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