Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Allium neapolitanum Cirillo var. cowanii

Half-hardy perennial with somewhat flaccid, stem-sheathing, lance-shaped leaves which often wither before flowering time, and white flowers with spreading petals in multi-flowered umbels.  [RHSE]. 


Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described by Cirillo in 1788 [Plantarum Rariorum regni Neapolitani fasc. 1, 1788]. Incorrectly believed to be a true South American species by John Lindley when ‘Roots of this new species of allium [Allium cowanii] were sent to the Horticultural Society from Peru in 1823, by James Cowan.’ [BR f.758/1823].
‘Although several species of the same genus had been discovered in North America, some of which are said to be identical with those of Europe or Asia, none had been known to be natives of the southern part of the new world before the arrival of the kind we are now describing.  It is nearly related to the common Allium ursinum of this country, from which it is distinguished by its leaves being ciliate, a little undulated, and much more flaccid, with quite a different outline; its petals are obtuse, not pointed.’  [BR f.758/1823].  Allium neapolitanum is figured in the Ornamental Flower Garden [OFG f.283/1854].


History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.32/1843]. 



Published Jan 16, 2009 - 04:38 PM | Last updated Mar 03, 2012 - 04:14 PM

Depicted are strappy leaves and onion-like white flowers.  Botanical Register f.758, 1823.

Allium neapolitanum Cirillo var. cowani | BR f.758/1823 | BHL


Family Alliaceae
Region of origin

Originally from North Africa and Southern Europe.  Although present in South America it was probably introduced.

  • Allium cowanii Lindl. 

Common Name

Naples onion

Name in the Camden Park Record

Allium Cowani 


Confidence level high