Herb: Shallot

Latin name: Allium cepa ascalonicum

Synonyms: Allium ascalonicum

Family: Alliaceae (Onion Family)

Medicinal use of Shallot:

Although rarely used specifically as a medicinal herb, the onion has a wide range of beneficial actions on the body and when eaten (especially raw) on a regular basis will promote the general health of the body. The bulb is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, lithontripic, stomachic and tonic. When used regularly in the diet it offsets tendencies towards angina, arteriosclerosis and heart attack. It is also useful in preventing oral infection and tooth decay. Baked onions can be used as a poultice to remove pus from sores. Fresh onion juice is a very useful first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings, bites, grazes or fungal skin complaints. When warmed the juice can be dropped into the ear to treat earache. It also aids the formation of scar tissue on wounds, thus speeding up the healing process, and has been used as a cosmetic to remove freckles.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Shallot:

Bulb - raw or cooked. A mild onion flavour, the bulbs can be up to 6cm in diameter. They can be added to salads etc, cooked as a vegetable or used as a flavouring in soups etc. Leaves - raw or cooked. A pleasant onion flavour, though they should not be harvested in quantity since this would reduce production of the bulbs. Flowers - raw. Used as a garnish on salads. The flowers are somewhat dry and are less pleasant than many other species.

Other uses of the herb:

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent and can also be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects. The plant juice can be used as a rust preventative on metals and as a polish for copper and glass. A yellow-brown dye is obtained from the skins of the bulbs. Onion juice rubbed into the skin is said to promote the growth of hair and to be a remedy for baldness. It is also used as a cosmetic to get rid of freckles. The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles. A spray made by pouring enough boiling water to cover 1kg of chopped unpeeled onions is said to increase the resistance of other plants to diseases and parasites.

Propagation of Shallot:

Plant out bulbs in late winter or very early spring. Plant firmly to half the bulbs depth and protect from birds until the bulbs have rooted. (Birds seem to have a fascination for pulling the bulbs out of the ground and then leaving them lying on the surface.) Traditionally, bulbs were planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest. Smaller bulbs are less likely to bolt as a result of exposure to cold conditions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Allium cepa ascalonicum:

There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this plant. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.