The Life History of the Onion

About the film

Part of the archive's Junior Biology series, this study of the onion is aided by diagrammatic, time-lapse, and microscopic footage.

Download this film


  • Release year - 1943
  • Director - Mary Field
  • Production company - G.B. Instructional Limited
  • Cinematographer - F. Percy Smith
  • Supervised by - B. Barnes
  • Running time (minutes) - 10 mins 28 secs

Original description

'The film shows speeded-up germination of the seed to form roots and shoot, at whose base the leaves later form a bulb. The flower produces pollen grains (shown much magnified), which are transferred by insects to the stigmas for fertilization of seeds inside the ovary.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-1943

Did you know?

  • This is the last film in the Junior Biology series. It is unclear why the term 'life cycle', used in the other Junior Biology films, was changed to 'life history' in this case. In the original Films of Britain distribution booklets it is nonetheless referred to as The Life Cycle of The Onion. Another Junior Biology series film about trout was put into production, but it was not completed due to the war.

All films are subject to the Creative Commons licence guidelines.

Learn more about how to use to the film archive.

You might also be interested in:

About the film archive

Learn about the history behind our documentary film archive from the 1940s.

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest updates and advice on applications, scholarships, visas and events.