Allium oxyphilum Wherry

Locations ofAllium oxyphilum Wherry in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Allium oxyphilum Wherry
Common Name
Shale Barren Nodding Onion
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Allium oxyphilum Wherry
The validity of Allium oxyphilum as a species is open to question, perhaps being better treated or subsumed within Allium cernuum. Nevertheless, plants conforming to the type occur along the West Virginia border and perhaps elsewhere. Primary characters: flowers white except for a pale green midrib on the outer tepals; long pedicels, usually about 3 cm and up to 4 cm; capsules more deltoid than in cernuum. The epithet "oxyphilum" means "acid-loving" in reference to its preferred substrates of shale and sandstone. These rock formations, however, are frequently "limy" despite having a pH below 7, and many acidic shale barrens support populations of typical A. cernuum. The occurrence of "whitish" flowered cernuum in western Virginia may represent introgression with oxyphilum or incomplete sorting within cernuum.
Studied by Patrick Dever (WVU), 2009-2014.
The Patrick County specimens ( at VPI) are extremely robust and broad leaved, not at all typical of A. oxyphilum, but do have long pedicels. These populations are deserving of further study.
Rocky woods and outcrops on shaly or sandstone substrates. A Central Appalachian endemic (if recognized) of west-central VA and eastern WVA.
Native Status

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