Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Onion (Allium Cepa), a vegetable belonging, like garlic, leeks, and shallots, to a liliaceous genus. It has large, hollow, rush-like leaves; a globose umbel of greenish-white, hexamerous, polysymmetric flowers with a membranous spathe; and a tunicate bulb. The pungent smell and taste are due to a small quantity of a volatile oil containing a large proportion of sulphur. The onion is probably a native of south-west Asia from the Punjaub to Palestine, and has been valued as an article of food from ancient Egyptian and Homeric times. Its name, derived from the Latin unio (a pearl), through the French oignon, alludes probably to the bulb growing singly, unlike the cloves of the garlic (q.v.). When less than 6 inches high, the whole plant is eaten as salad; small bulbs are pickled in vinegar; larger ones are boiled, stewed, or fried, or when scorched are used as colouring for soups. We grow about 40,000 tons of onions annually, and import nearly 4 million bushels. Those grown in Spain and Portugal are larger and milder than English ones.