The Onion Family
Alliaceae, sub family of Liliaceae
After foraging for ramps near a rail trail in High Falls in May 2021, I read a NYTimes article aptly titled Know Your Onions (+ Shallots + Leeks + Ramps) by Melissa Clark. This inspired me to start a large composition of the Allium family, starting with spring ramps and continuing all year as the other family members grew and were harvested.
As I added each individual portrait, I noticed so many shared traits, from roots to flowers. All of their elements played so nicely together on the page. As I intertwined their roots and wrapped their “arms” around each other, I realized they were just like my family! We share so many traits, but each of us is unique in our own way.
All Allium species are edible, so I could eat all these plants as part of my plant research. (Someone has to do it!) It is exciting for me to search out the plants for a painting, combining cultivated and foraged plants. I am fortunate to live in a rural area and have a son who has an organic vegetable farm allowing me to track and study these plants as they grow.
Plants in the Onion Family share these traits:
Produced on scapes
6 tepals produced in 2 whorls
Bulbs reform annually from the base of the old bulb (most are perennials)
Plants depicted in this Plant Family Portrait:
Shallot (Allium cepa var. aggregatum) (Conservor)
Spring Onion (Allium cepa) (Forum)
Onion (Allium cepa) (Patterson)
Red Onion (Allium cepa) (Red Wing)
Field Garlic (Allium deraceum) (Onion Grass)
Leek (Allium porrum) (King Richard)
Garlic (Allium sativum) (German White)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) (Wild Leek)
My goal with this series of Plant Family Portraits is to deepen people’s awareness of plants and gain an understanding of plant details to help combat “Plant Blindness.” An appreciation for biodiversity is an important part of our wellbeing. May we all delight in nature’s fascinating architecture and colors, appreciate our environment, and how precious it is to protect.
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