Plant Name: Amaylidaceae
Plant Family: Amaylidaceae
Scientific Name: Allium cepa
The onion, a member of the lily family, is commonly eaten in nearly every country in the world.
Although a wild ancestor of the onion has never been discovered, the earliest known written records attest that onions were cultivated along the Nile river 5,000 years ago. Egyptians revered the vegetable and turned it into a deified shape on monuments.
Roman and Greek records and literature refer to the bulb as having medicinal and spiritual properties.
During the middle ages, onion use spread through Europe along with belief in its healing properties. These beliefs persist into the 21st century as medical institutes are currently investigating the medicinal properties of onions.
Christopher Columbus brought onions on his voyage to the New World and planted them in the West Indies where they naturalized. As Europeans came to America, they used the naturalized onions they found here as well and also planted seeds they brought with them. Onion seed was a commodity often sent to the New World on sailing vessels.
The Europeans also brought their beliefs about the vegetable - among them a tradition that an onion hanging over a doorway would absorb passing diseases and protect those inside.