Plant Profile: Egyptian Walking Onions

egyptian onion

The Baroque twisty-ness of the Walking Onion.

Do these onions really walk like an Egyptian? Read on. This unique, heirloom perennial onion plant (Allium proliferum) serves both an ornamental and edible garden function. Once you have Egyptian walking onions in your garden, you’ll never again have a “we’re out of onions” moment. Your onion supply will be there, faithfully waiting. Yes, the onion bulbs, or bulblets, that grow on the top of its stalk are small, like teeny shallots. Still, they make a great addition to any recipe when you need onions and are out of the big round ones.

egyptian walking onion

Bulbs that grow on the top of the stalk form in a cluster.

The stalks also serve as green onions. Or use the bulbs in recipes like pickled onions. If you are interested in a permaculture garden, Egyptian Walking Onions are a perfect addition.

That they are an attractive ornamental only adds to the benefit of these plants. The round, erect stalks add vertical interest in a perennial garden bed—not just the vegetable garden—and they’re one of the first perennials to pop up in the cool spring. Plus the twisty, Baroque onion formations that form at the top are the visual icing on the…onion.

These are definitely “pass around” plants; but not in a bad, invasive way. Mine originally came from my sister’s garden, and have been walking over my garden, plunking themselves where they want for about twenty-five years. Do they walk? Well, not really. As the onions get larger and heavier, the stalks flop. The onion bulbs take root where they fall and a new plant starts. But they’re easy to pull up, and the leek-like onion bulb at the base is edible too.

Photos: Helen Battersby

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