The shallot is a botanical variety of the species Allium cepa, to which the multiplier onion also belongs. The shallot was formerly classified as a separate species, A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the currently accepted name. The genus Allium, which includes onions and garlic as well as shallots, is now classified in the plant family Amaryllidaceae, but was formerly considered to belong to the separate family Alliaceae. Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeast Asia, travelling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name 'shallot' comes from Ashkelon, an ancient Philistine city, where people in classical Greek times believed shallots originated.
Contributions by Peter coxhead, LarryMorseDCOhio, and Jaoakley.