There’s a great little American chestnut tree (Castanea dentata) just outside the office building at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim where I work. This one has bloomed almost all summer.
The tree has separate male and female flowers, but there has to be at least two trees for pollination ….
I have 5 one-year-old trees from a northern provenance, Jefferson County in Washington State (via Chris Homanics in Oregon) and hope that Ringve would like to plant more eventually….I would love to see if the nuts would ripen here… and also help to preserve a tree species that is threatened with extinction by an imported fungal disease where it grows wild in eastern North America. In its homeland, this is one of the quickest to produce nuts from seed (as early as 5 years!)
Chris, one of my food diversity / preparedness heroes, wrote in 2016:
“Last month was spent collecting many distinct types of chestnuts from about 30 separate sites throughout Western Washington and Oregon. Some were even from old naturalized forests full of chestnut trees. Amassed it represents a diverse foundation stock for planting up, far and wide. In the face of growing droughts and the woes of climate change, I believe this plant will play a significant role in feeding people in the future as it has gone far back into the deep past. My hope is to help foster a revival of interest with the chestnut as a viable sustainable food source by offering a diverse collection of these nuts to the public to select and adapt to their local environment. ”
My other plants I’d like to plant in KVANN’s garden at Væres Venner Felleshage!
Yesterday was St. John’s Day and many Norwegians (and other Scandinavians) celebrated the evening before what is known here as Sankthans or Jonsok with communal bonfires, the big midsummer celebration on the eve of St. John’s Day! Sankt Hans is a short form of Sankt Johannes (and my grandson is Johannes, so this is for him <3)
There is a special perennial onion which was traditionally harvested on this day in the Netherlands, which I believe to have a much large potential than its current status as a local food crop, as it is so much easier to grow, in particular in areas increasingly suffering from summer droughts and water shortages, along with many other perennial vegetables. If nothing else, it complements shallots and onions in that it is available much earlier in the year!
On a visit to the Utrecht Botanical Gardens in the Netherlands some years ago, I’d photographed an onion called Sint-Jansui and given the botanical name Allium fistulosum var. proliferum.
Botanist Gerard van Buiten at Utrecht later wrote to me “Ah, I see you have found our “St Jansuien! Yes, it is an old local variety, grown around Utrecht. One of our gardeners used to grow it on his nursery a long time ago. Every year on “St. Jansdag”, a box of onions was delivered at Paleis Soestdijk, where Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard used to live. It is grown nowadays in some urban garden projects in the city”.
It turns out that this onion is not related to Allium fistulosum and is classified as a triploid hybrid onion Allium x cornutum which has been found both in Europe (Netherlands, France and Croatia) as well as India from where, it is speculated it may have originated. Like Egyptian onion / walking onion (Allium x proliferum), it is sterile and produces bulbils in its inflorescence. I’ve only experienced flowering of this once in 10 years of growing A x cornutum (see below). 10 years ago, Dr. Reinhard Fritsch had sent me 3 accessions from the German gene bank IPK Gatersleben, but only one of these has proven hardy here, although the French accession survived a few years. The other was from India and died the first winter.
In 2014, an open access paper appeared in the BMC Plant Biology journal (see https://bmcplantbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2229-14-24). This study combined molecular, phylogenetic and cytogenetic data and provided evidence for a unique triparental origin A. × cornutum with three putative parental species, A. cepa, A. pskemense, and A. roylei. Hardiness is probably bestowed by Allium pskemense which has been growing in the Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim for many years.
I had planted the Croatian accession in the new Allium garden at the botanical gardens in Trondheim a couple of years ago and I started harvesting it the other day as it starts to die back at this time of year and looks untidy:
In this little patch, there were an enormous amount of onions, admittedly a bit on the small size, but relatively easy to peel and far outyielding shallots here! I will now harvest these and replant to see how well these yield after one year of growth (I am unsure as to exactly when these were planted, but this may be two years of growth).
In Croatia, Puizina, 2013 says: “The term ‘shallot’ in Croatia denotes three genetically and morphologically different, vegetatively reproduced relatives of the common onion, Allium cepa, which are mainly traditionally cultivated for consumption and as a spice: A. cepa Aggregatum group, A. × proliferum and A. × cornutum”. Further, the triploid shallot is “traditionally cultivated in South and coastal Croatia under the name ‘Ljutika’ and it is very popular as a spice and condiment due to its tasty bulbs and leaves”….and “In contrast to most flowering species of Allium in which the leaves are already dying back at flowering time, triploid shallots are perennials, their leaves remain green and suitable for use during entire year”. Ban (2019) shows morphological comparisons of all three types of “shallot” and demonstrates that there are different forms of Allium x cornutum in cultivation, differing in leaf cross-section, bulb shape and leaf waxiness. Bulbs are traditionally preserved in vinegar (Puizina, 2013) as they are difficult to store, resprouting after harvest. It is also stated that A. x cornutum is tolerant of drought and poor soil, enabling it to persist in wild habitats. In fact my own accession of the Croatian shallot originates from such a habitat:
Plant passport data from IPK Gatersleben: “SOURCE – Croatia: Jugoslawien 1985 Dr Hanelt Nr. YUGHAN-85: 5, weedy: Tal zwischen Male Grablje und Milna, offengelassene Olivenpflanzung” (valley between Male Grabje and Milna, open olive plantation). This area has a very different climate than Trondheim, indicating that this is also a very adaptable onion.
The real St. Jansuien shallot from the Netherlands has now also been planted in the onion garden in Trondheim.
I will be making Johannes’ shallots (Sankthans-sjalott) available to members of Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) through our autumn catalogue (membership can be had by signing up here: https://kvann.no/bli-medlem . My grandson will also get a packet of onions for his birthday (but, don’t tell him yet…I want it to be a surprise ;) )
Ban, S.J., 2019. Samples included in DNA analysis. SafeAlliDiv meeting, Olumuc, April 2019 (Symposium presentation).
Puizina, J., 2013. Shallots in Croatia – genetics, morphology and nomenclature. Acta Bot. Croat. 72 (2), 387–398.
The Allium garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden (Chicago) in Trondheim contains a collection of old Norwegian onions used for food from all over Norway including Allium fistulosum (Welsh onion), A. x proliferum (Egyptian and Catawissa onions), A. oleraceum, A. vineale, A. ursinum, A. scorodoprasum and A.victorialis (the last four are wild or naturalised species that have been moved into gardens in the past for food and, in the case of ursinum and victorialis are currently being domesticated in a big way!
In addition, a collection of wild species and ornamental cultivars have been planted to demonstrate the diversity of the Allium family!
I’ll be adding pictures to the album below on a regular basis.
See more pictures on my FB album here: https://tinyurl.com/y489yldy
Allium hagen ved Ringve Botaniske Hagen (NTNU) i Trondheim inneholder en samling av gamle norske matløk samlet fra hele Norge i perioden 2008-2019. Dette inkluderte Allium fistulosum (pipeløk), A. x proliferum (luftløk), A. oleraceum, A. vineale, A. ursinum, A. scorodoprasum og A.victorialis (de fem siste er vill- eller naturaliserte arter som har blitt flyttet til hager som matplante før i tiden, og dette er fortsatt gjort når det gjelder ursinum (ramsløk) og victorialis (seiersløk) i økende grad!
I tillegg kan man her se en samling av ville arter og pryvarianter plantet for å demonstrere mangfoldet av Allium-slekten!
Hagen er støttet finansielt av Landbruksdirektoratet, og Genressurssenteret.
3 videos of Painted Ladies (Tistelsommerfugl) on Allium schoenoprasum on 11th June 2017
The last 3 days I’ve been documenting which Alliums at the Ringve Botanical Garden collection didn’t make it from last autumns plantings, finding replacements and also collecting many more new accessions! Yesterday was the first of two big planting days and as usual I underestimated the amount of time needed to plant and document and got home at 9 pm!
82 varieties were planted and I also improved the soil for ramsons (ramsløk) and victory onion (seiersløk) which both hadn’t grown well (most others had grown very well, so it wasn’t due to lack of nutrients).
Here’s a little video tour during the planting! More will be planted next week :)
Yesterday was my most intensive weeding day of the year so far, first 2-3 hours finishing the weeding of KVANN’s bed at Væres Venner community garden followed by 7 hours at Ringve Botanical Garden weeding the Vermont Bed (see below). It was literally covered in an effective ground cover of birch seedlings, much worse for some reason than the New Hampshire Bed which I weeded a week ago: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18255. This reminded me of the large flock of redpolls (gråsisik) at Ringve during the winter, a sign that it was a birch seed year 😊 and here’s a picture from my blog last winter at Ringve: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/P1080538.jpg
In the previous blog a week ago linked above, I wrote: “The Allium garden at Ringve has grown well as have the so-called weeds (mostly very young birch trees!). I spent the afternoon weeding and documenting the right hand (easternmost bed)….now known as the New Hampshire bed (I’m told the two beds resemble a map of Vermont and New Hampshire) (As it looks like the garden will be known as Chicago-hagen due to the fact that the native american name Chicago means onion)!!
This is the link to the last album I made from 31st May: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156051646095860.1073743203.655215859&type=1&l=cbacd0612e”
The Allium garden at Ringve has grown well as have the so-called weeds (mostly very young birch trees!). I spent the afternoon weeding and documenting the right hand (easternmost bed)….now known as the New Hampshire bed (I’m told the two beds resemble a map of Vermont and New Hampshire) (As it looks like the garden will be known as Chicago-hagen due to the fact that the native american name Chicago means onion)!!
This is the link to the last album I made from 31st May: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10156051646095860.1073743203.655215859&type=1&l=cbacd0612e
Day 3 of the KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) meet was at the Ringve Botanical Garden Open Day in Trondheim. The day started early as I drove one of the participants to the station in Trondheim and then spent a couple of hours collecting some of the ingredients for a multi-species salad. Including plants collected on a walk, talk and forage for KVANN members, we managed 111 ingredients in the salad! Thanks to all who helped make it a very successful and fun weekend!
I’ve been attending a great gathering of gardeners from all over Norway the last couple of days, organised by my colleagues at the Ringve Botanical Gardens.
These relatively mild days has brought with it the full first wave of spring migrants to this part of Norway and while we were on a tour of the gardens today, the place was full of newly arrived active migrants, excited by the time of year….fieldfares (gråtrost) were chasing each other through the tree tops, redwings and a song thrush (rødvingetrost and måltrost) were singing as were wood pigeons (ringdue) and chiffchaffs (gransanger) whilst white wagtails (linerle) were feeding in the grass and geese were passing over. It started to rain heavily as soon as we finished…perfect timing…and returning home the muddy water from the small river that enters the bay below the house was evident…and a robin (rødstrupe) was singing his bittersweet song! Life is good!
I always dreamed of working in a botanical garden and somehow my wish has come true only 7 months after retiring from job as an ocean wave climatologist!
Even better, I can come and go as I wish (more or less)…I now have an office where I will be able to document and tend (in summer) my onion garden, as visiting researcher :)
…and the staff are lovely people too :)
090118: Wren foraging and joined by a second bird120118: It’s quite a few years I’ve seen two-barred crossbill (båndkorsnebb), but then I’ve never deliberately sought them out at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim which, because of its collection of conifers, is one of the best places to see this species, the less common of the 3 crossbills here…only one female with a single common or parrot crossbill…
090118: Wrens (gjerdesmett):
120118: What are these redpolls (gråsisik) feeding on?: