Pregnant Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum)

Mon Oct 16 12:10:21 EST 2000


I ordered our Ornithogalum from Carolina Biological.
It is wonderful for teaching about scaly bulbs.  It does
flower over a long period, but the flowers are fairly
small.  Typical monocot flowers though, with parts
in multiples of three.  Mine are indeed green and white
only.  I have never observed a purple one.  The multiply
like mad between the layers in the bulb...often cracking
the outer layers.  So vegetative propagation is VERY
fast and easy.  The bulbils germinate just as you 
mentioned for the seeds...the radicle emerges first,
then new leaves.  Mine have never set seeds, I think
because they are in a greenhouse without pollinators.
Mine grow nicely even though over-watered and over-
fertilized in Fafard #2 (equivalent to Pro-Mix or Hyponex)
under average greenhouse conditions.  The flowers have
never had a detectable scent.  There are other members
of the genus with more showy flowers, but I'm not sure
whether they have the same productivity in bulbils.

Best wishes,


> ----------
> From: 	kflist13 at
> Sent: 	Sunday, October 15, 2000 1:03 PM
> To: 	plant-ed at
> Subject: 	Pregnant Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum)
> 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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