Author Topic: Tulbaghia as a crop  (Read 154 times)

S.Simonsen

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Tulbaghia as a crop
« on: 2020-09-10, 02:44:19 PM »
In the subtropics we can grow Alliums reasonably well, but they aren't as straight forward as they are for temperate growers. By contrast a sister genus in the family, Tulbaghia from southern Africa, is much more sturdy. It has been used as an edible in its natural range and further afield in places where it is grown mostly as an ornamental.
The genus is pretty large and diverse and broadly interfertile, so I am currently gathering species to start a project breeding it for improved edibility. It mostly seems to have potential as an evergreen replacement for garlic chives (which are dormant for much of the year here), though it will be interesting to see if the stems and bulbs can be sized up.
Is anyone else working on Tulbaghia breeding as a potential novel crop?

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Tulbaghia as a crop
« Reply #1 on: 2020-09-11, 10:22:44 AM »
The Pacific Bulb Society wiki has some interesting photos of about 15 species.  The underground structure is unlke anything I've seen - a small bulb with a big mass of thick roots.  It would take a lot of breeding to get an onion-sized bulb

https://www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/Tulbaghia

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

S.Simonsen

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Re: Tulbaghia as a crop
« Reply #2 on: 2020-09-11, 02:06:50 PM »
I think you are probably right, but I would be happy with just improving flavor and growth rate of the leafy greens (or maybe even "edible" flowers, though I find that particular obsession kind of pfaffy). Then again if you looked at the fistulosum end of Allium you would never suspect the huge cepa types were possible.

Diane Whitehead

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Re: Tulbaghia as a crop
« Reply #3 on: 2020-09-11, 02:42:09 PM »
I wonder how edible those thick roots could be.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters,  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Jeremy Weiss

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Re: Tulbaghia as a crop
« Reply #4 on: 2020-11-14, 09:20:54 AM »
Sacred Succulents has an allium they call african leek, Allium dregeanum which is supposed to be subtropical (or at least, warm temperate). Maybe that would be a good choice.

S.Simonsen

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Re: Tulbaghia as a crop
« Reply #5 on: 2020-11-14, 12:36:04 PM »
Ill put Allium dregeanum on my wish list. Looks like it is from the winter rainfall/more temperate Z8 side of south africa but worth a try. Thanks for the suggestion.