Allium Flowers with Their Little Star Shaped Blooms

Tall growing purple Allium flower heads.

As the bloom cycle continues at the gardens, the beginnings of Allium flowers – also known as Ornamental Onion unfolds. The first to make their appearance later spring are fast-growing, tall Ornamental Onions. These tend to have longer green stems and thinner leaves. The other prevalent variety are shorter and lower to the ground with much thicker stalks and leaves. These ground dwellers tend to bloom a bit later than their taller brethren.

These globes or orbs – in various sizes and shades of purples and white, are hard to miss. With perfectly shaped pom pom heads they bob around in the wind. This can definitely make photographing them a challenge on a windy morning! That and flat light were the case in most of these photos. Bummer! Thankfully, the bees visiting them were unfazed by the less than ideal photography conditions.

A group of purple blooming Allium.
Ornamental onion flower head.
Purple Allium flowers.
Purple Allium head with all its little star-shape flowers.
Star shaped Allium flowers by budding barrel cactus.
An unusual view – looking down onto Allium next to a budding barrel cactus plant.

Each Allium head actually consists of dozens of tiny lilac-colored, star-shaped flowers. They are a perennial that grow quite easily so they make return appearances. They favorable conditions at the xeric gardens reflects their ever expanding presence. This is especially noticeable with the low-growers, larger flower head variety.

Alien Antenna Looking Buds

What I like most about the taller Allium variety is their buds. Makes me smile when I see them. They have a long, lanky, green stem with the round bud on top. It’s funny to see these bobbing around in the wind as they remind me of alien antenna – the kind you’d see on some strange creature in a sci-fi flick. They’re like eyes which move independently that follow you. Or perhaps that’s my imagination in overdrive?

Allium bud pods about to open.
Budding Allium heads with compressed little purple flowers.

When you look closely, the bud pod appears to be covered in a thin, translucent sheath. Given its relation to onions, it does look like an onion skin. Within this sheathed bud are all the little flowers. Given the size of the bud, It’s hard to believe dozens of little purple or white flowers are contained within it. There’s some serious compression and containment going on!

Allium budding atop long green stems.
Budding Allium heads.

However, little by little the sheath of the bud pod releases its grip. The little flowers begin to unfold giving way to the full bloom of its round, pom pom head appearance. The little purple or white flowers look like shining stars with bright green centers.

Bees Go Bonkers for Allium Flowers

This season I was not able to capture any bees on the miniature Wildflower or Species tulips. So it’s a welcome sight to see bees on the Allium. They do indulge in these little, star-shaped flowers. With pollen options still in limited supply, once the mornings warm up, the bees take full advantage of all the little flowers at their disposal. They move from flower to little star-shaped flower focused on the pollen gathering mission at hand.

Bee gathering pollen on white Allium flowers.
Bee gathering pollen on Ornamental Onion flowers.
Bee on ornamental onion flowers.

The combination of a small moving object and flower head bobbing in the wind can make photographing these little fellas tricky. The low growing variety does provide for better bee photo options so that’s a perk. But the flat light did not help on my selected days to hit the gardens in search of bee Allium photo ops.

I’d like to believe patience paid off. And when all is said and done there were a few photos that made the cut. Yay 🙂


Feel inspired? Please share...