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Bowiea volubilis

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Schizobasopsis volubilis
Phonetic Spelling
boh-wee-AY-ah vol-OO-bil-iss
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Climbing Onion is a large, exposed, green, scaly bulb with slender, twining, leafless, green stems and small, green-white flowers. It is a succulent perennial that thrives in the dry desert regions of eastern and southern Africa, but outside of its native environment, it is more often grown as a houseplant or as a specimen plant. The plant has overlapping scales, which form a spherical bulb that grows to 8 inches above the soil and sends up a twining, green, branched stem with few linear deciduous leaves. In winter, the plant is dormant and the outer scales dry to a paper-like state. In late spring and summer, the plant produces one or more fast-growing stems covered with leafless side-branches that may fall off. The small greenish-white flowers appear in spring. The genus is named after James Bowie, a nineteenth-century British plant collector for Kew Gardens, and there is a single species, volubilis.

Climbing Onion prefers gritty well-drained soil in partial sun to shade. Water regularly during the growing season, and rarely if at all during dormancy. Propagate from seed, divisions, or from individual scales. The plant is not cold hardy and will suffer at temperatures below 50 degrees F. The plant is not an onion and is not edible, but rather is in the lily family.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bulb#succulent#low maintenance#climbing vines#easy to grow houseplant#flowering bulb
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bulb#succulent#low maintenance#climbing vines#easy to grow houseplant#flowering bulb
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Bowiea
    Species:
    volubilis
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Uganda to South Africa
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
    Edibility:
    Despite its common name, it is not an edible onion.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Succulent
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Climbing
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small, green-white flowers appear along the stems.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Insignificant
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Leafless
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    In late winter, vining stems emerge from the bulb and grow up any nearby support. As they mature, dense lacy branches form. When fall arrives, the growth dies back.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Toxic if large quantities are eaten. Minor skin irritation lasting only a few minutes. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, slow pulse; contact with bulb can cause irritation of wet skin
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cardiac glycosides
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems