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Patterns of Exchange of Multiplying Onion (Allium cepa L. Aggregatum-Group) in Fennoscandian Home Gardens

Leino, Matti W., Solberg, Svein Ø, Tunset, Hanna Maja, Fogelholm, Jesper, Strese, Else-Marie Karlsson, Hagenblad, Jenny
Economic botany 2018 v.72 no.3 pp. 346-356
Allium cepa, bulbs, clones, color, ethnobotany, genetic analysis, home gardens, potatoes, shallots, surveys, taste, traditions
Multiplying onion (Allium cepa L. Aggregatum-Group), commonly known as shallot or potato onion, has a long tradition of cultivation in Fennoscandian home gardens. During the last decades, more than 80 accessions, maintained as vegetatively propagated clones, have been gathered from home gardens in all Fennoscandian countries. A genetic analysis showed regional patterns of accessions belonging to the same genetic group. However, accessions belonging to the same genetic group could originate in any of the countries. These results suggested both short- and long-distance exchange of set onions, which was confirmed by several survey responses. Some of the most common genetic groups also resembled different modern varieties. The morphological characterization illustrated that most characters were strongly influenced by environment and set onion properties. The only reliably scorable trait was bulb skin color. Neither our morphological nor genetic results support a division between potato onions and shallots. Instead, naming seems to follow linguistic traditions. An ethnobotanical survey tells of the Fennoscandian multiplying onions as being a crop with reliable harvest, excellent storage ability, and good taste. An increased cultivation of this material on both household and commercial scale should be possible.