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Short stem with fleshy leaves that acts as food storage during a plant's dormant period.

Although gardeners treat bulbs as edible roots and seeds (for propagation), they are actually short stems with fleshy leaves or leaf bases. The combined 'package' acts as a food storage organ during a period of dormancy (eg. winter).

Other food storage organs that work underground include corms, rhizomes, and tubers - but these are not bulbs. As entire group, all of these plants are known as geophytes.

Virtually all bulbs are monocots (one seedling leaf). The exception is the genus Oxalis (wood-sorrel), which is a dicot.

Gardeners typically grow bulbs for food or for their attractive flowers. Example bulbs include:

  • Onion, garlic (Alliaceae) - edible
  • Lily, tulip (Liliaceae)
  • Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, Narcissus (Amaryllidaceae)
  • Iris (Iridaceae, Hermodactyloides)

Use the tag for general bulb questions. For example questions that refer to a few types, choosing the right bulb, general care, etc. Questions about specific species/varieties should use those tags instead.