Pregnant Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum)

Kevin Franken kflist13 at
Sun Oct 15 12:03:18 EST 2000

I have 6 Pregnant Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum) seeds (collected at a 
greenhouse) that I have been soaking on a moist paper towel for 24 hours.  2 
have germinated with the radicle protruding a 2-4 millimeters outside of the 
seed.  I am wondering when I should plant them in soil.  Now?  After the 
radicle gets a little longer?  How much longer?  The embryonic leaves have 
not come out of the seed yet, and I'm wondering if I might have to help them 
along by nicking the seed with a razor.  The seed is fairly tough/thick, and 
I'd hate for the plant to die because it wasn't strong enough to burst 
completely through the seed coat.  But I also do not want to risk damaging 
the seed.  Any suggestions?

I have natural sand, natural loam soil, store-bought perlite, sphagnum
peat moss, and Hyponex all-purpose potting soil - what mixture of these
would you recommend for pregnant onion? (are there other components I
should use?)  I've read it likes well-drained soil.

I read at

file:///C|/Documents and Settings/Administrator/Desktop/Pregnant
Onion/Pregnant Onions - Suite101_com.htm

and heard from other people that the flowers are scentless.  The flowers I 
smelled had a powerful and pleasant smell.  Do you know if pregnant onion 
flowers have this fragrance?

Also, the flowers have a pale purple color along with
the predominant white.  Have you had/seen this purple color on any
flowers?  All the references I have found indicate only green and white.

I emailed the greenhouse keeper (where I saw the Pregnant onion plant and
collected a few seeds from), and he sent me the below msg (starting
with "The scientific name..."  He also took a photo with his digital
camera of the white flowers with the purple stripe (I knew I had seen
purple on them).  I heard back from several people I emailed who were
only aware of white and green flowers, so I wanted to double-check my
memory.  I have created an account at where you can
download then view the picture.  I like the photo, but he did say the
flowers were dying, so they might not look as magnificent as they would
were they newly opened.  Anyway, here's what you need to login and view
the photo:

username: pregnant
password: onion

Once you get in, you should see a file called

Ornithogalum_caudatum.jpg -

click on that with your cursor then click the Download button in the menu
above.  You will be asked where you want to save this file, so pick
somewhere on your PC.  I recommend saving it to your PC if you want to
because I'm not sure if I'll keep this account for very long - I just
created it so that people can see the mother plant's flowers that I 
collected seed from, since many people told me they had never seen a white 
and purple flowered variety and since the only references I found on the 
Internet about this plant mentioned white and green flowers.

Be sure to click "logout" after you have downloaded it.

If you have any questions or problems getting the picture, let me know.

Also, I'm curious:  I assume that this plant is a certain/specific variety 
of pregnant onion.  But I don't know what variety it is. How does one find 
something like that out?  I really have no idea how or where to start.

I was worried that the seeds would be sterile since I read somewhere on the 
Internet and heard from some people that I emailed that this plant produced 
sterile seeds.  Now, I have at least 2 viable seeds that have germinated, 
and I really want to nurture them and encourage them to keep growing!!

My msg:

>Is that still flowering?  It was a couple weeks ago.  If so, what color
>are the flowers?  I remember they were mostly white, but thought it had >a 
>pale purple color (perhaps a stripe) as well.  Do you know?

Greenhouse Keeper's msg:

The scientific name for the Pregnant Onion is Ornithogalum caudatum.  It
is just past the flowering stage and going to seed.  The flowers are white 
with pale purple stripes.  I tried to take a picture of the fading flowers 
with my digital camera and am sending you the results as an attachment.  You 
can sort of see the flowers.
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