by Stephen Mifsud
   22 Jun 2024      ()
External Links:

Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   (Round-Headed Leek)

Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon  (AMARYLLIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

Page Contents + Links

General Information Species Images
External Links Support and sales
Submit information Facebook community
Sponsors & Adverts Copyright notes
Amaryllidaceae Index Plant Family Index
This profile is brought to you by one of the website's sponsors.
[read more...]
Profile Date July-2006 (taxon update: Sep-2022)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon - datasheet created on July-2006. Retrieved from on 22-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalonL.
Published in Pl. Nov. Ratisbon. (Konigl. Baier. Bot. Ges.) 2: 256 (1828)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Porrum sphaerocephaluon (L.) Rchb.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Amaryllidaceae Jaume St.-Hil (The Daffodil or Amaryllis Family)
28 species from the Amaryllidaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Round-Headed Leek, Ball-headed Onion

Maltese name(s) :

Tewm kaħlani, Tewm vjola

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Present on the Maltese islands before man

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Threatened status for the Maltese Islands and has been listed in the Red Data Book (1st ed.)

Flowering Time :

June – August

Colour of Flowers:

Red or Violet


Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :

Allium: The classical Latin name for garlic. (Latin origin )
sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon:

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

The species Allium amethystinum Tausch which is also reported from same habitat and localities is likely a misidentification for Allium sphaerocephalon. Further investigation is required to verify this or the improbable possibility of having both. The populations flowering in July with small wine-red inflorecences, growing in arid exposed garigue most in the north and northwest of Malta have been also ascribed to Allium amethystinum but from a careful inspection of some specimens, they were identified by Stephen Mifsud as Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon. Both species are morphologically similar. The subspecies arvense which is larger, have white to green flowers and mostly occurs on the south and west coast of Gozo was reported for the first time by Michael Briffa in the late nineties. The plants growing in Malta appear to be particularly smaller and further investigation may reveal interesting findings.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Cultivated ground and rocky places
Preferred habitat in Malta: Arid rocky places and exposed garigue
Botanical Description: Bulbs 1.5-2 cm in diameter, subglobose; outer tunics membranous; bulblets absent or few, yellowish. Stem 20-120 cm, often reddish in upper part. Leaves 3-7, up to 50 cm x 8 mm, linear, fistular, canaliculate, sheathing the lower 1/4-1/3 of the stem, usually withered at anthesis. Spathe 2-7 cm, 1-valved, long-beaked, caducous. Umbel 2.5-6.5 cm in diameter, subglobose, many-flowered; pedicels 10-25 mm at anthesis, the central ones sometimes up to 50 mm in fruit, often reddish. Perianth cylindrical; segments purple, the outer 3-4.5 x 1-1.8 mm, narrowly oblong or oblong-elliptical, usually longer and narrower than the inner, obtuse or truncate, smooth. Stamens exserted, ciliate below; outer 3 filaments 4.5-6 mm, simple, the inner 3 with the basal lamina slightly wider than the inner segments and shorter than or equalling the central cusp, the lateral cusps 1½ or more times as long as the central cusp. Perianth and pedicels smooth, without papillae. Capsule c. 4 mm.
Chromosome number: 2n=16, 24, 32
Distributional range: C. & E. Mediterranean region, extending to S.E. Bulgaria

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, Bulgaria, Crete, Greece, Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Al Bu Cr Cy Gr It Ju Si Tu(A)

Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Distribution of some rare or endemic chasmophytic and rupestral species growing along the coastal cliffs of the Maltese Islands Stephen Mifsud  (2013)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (10 images)
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-0.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-1.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-2.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-3.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-4.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-5.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-6.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-7.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-8.
   Allium sphaerocephalon subsp. sphaerocephalon   -   Image Code: ALLSP-9.

Buy Seeds and Docs
Sales of seeds of wild plants for academic studies, research or personal use. Note that not all species seeds can be exported - depending on Maltese regulations and CITES, and availability depends on season. You are hence kindly requested to first fill and submit a quotation form by which you will get confirmation of the purchase, availability and charges. Currently local orders are not taken.   Online Quotation (Seeds)

Buy images found in this large online collection of Maltese flora photographed by the author (Stephen Mifsud). Prices reasonable and rated differently according size and resolution. Buying images for your projects will support this website. When placing an order please take note of the image code specific for every image in the corresponding species webpage (found beneath each individual photo) since this is required when filling the online ordering form. Images are normally sold as a license with the copyright reserved to the author, but sales of copyright of exceptional images can be considered.   Online Purchase (Images)
Kindly consider to support this website by giving a small donation. This will help to cover some expenses needed to maintain the website and its further development without any adverts. Please login into your PayPal account and use the email: as email address to send your donation   Online Donation

Use this form to submit more information on this species or report mistakes in this webpage. If information supplied is taken from a book, journal or website, please provide the corresponding reference or website address. Your email address is only for internal communication. Please report only Maltese locations for plants that indicated as rare or very rare (refer to the nomenclature section above). Please do report mistakes, broken links, technical errors, typing / grammar errors, misidentifications or taxonomical updates; this will help to improve the website's accuracy. Thanks you! Fill any of the three sections (A/B/C) below and kindly submit the form.     * = required fields.
Plant Species:  *
Your name:   * Your Email:   *
Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
Own observations: Info from published material (books, journals, website):
Reference of published material:
Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
Locations in Malta or Gozo where you have seen this plant. Only applies for rare plants.

1:       2:       3:   
4:       5:       6:   
Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
Section C:  Corrections for mistakes and errors in this plant profile
Section of this page where you found an error (select one)
What is the error/mistake and suggest a correction
AntiSpam Verification: Please answer these simple questions:   90 + 5 =     This website is about
      is supported by:
[ EcoGozo, Ministry for Gozo ] [ Projects in Motion ] [ Sunrise Pet & Garden Centre] [ MycoMalta ]
Webpage is copyright of Stephen Mifsud / - (2002-2022)