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The Onions are the nests of the Pikmin. Olimar named them so because of their resemblance to a vegetable native to his home planet. These bulbous plant-hives have brightly colored bodies with a black and white band across the midsection. At the spots the Onions land at the start of each day, there are concentric circles on the ground, which are never referred to in-game. Three stilt-like legs suspend the Onions out of the reach of hungry predators, and provide access to the inside for Pikmin.
During the daytime, Pikmin hunt and bring food, such as pellets or slain beasts, to the Onion, which in turn produces new Pikmin seeds. If there are fewer than 100 Pikmin on the field, the seeds are ejected and take root in the ground; if not, they are stored inside the Onion, along with any other Pikmin not on the field. Unlike in the area however, the number of Pikmin that can be stored inside an Onion is unlimited.  When night falls and all the Pikmin have returned, the Onion folds its legs and lifts off from the ground, presumably using its flower petals like rotor blades to propel itself into the low atmosphere, where it hovers until daybreak. If all Pikmin of the same color are lost, the corresponding Onion will produce a single seed the following day to prevent extinction.
Withdrawing and retrieving
The player can access an Onion's Pikmin by having the current leader stand under the corresponding Onion's beam of light, and pressing the throw button, ( / in the first two games; / / in the third (and for the GamePad's Stylus mode)). Doing so pauses the gameplay and opens a menu where the player can choose how many Pikmin to retrieve, or how many Pikmin from the current party to place inside.
When Pikmin are told to go inside the Onion, they are dismissed from the group (bomb-rock carrying Pikmin also drop them in Pikmin and Pikmin 3), and begin climbing through the Onion's legs, eventually entering the holes the legs originate from. During this time, they can be whistled back to the group, should the player change their mind, but if not, they will be stored inside the Onion, and the field Pikmin counter will decrease. Requested Pikmin will come out of the Onion from the same holes, and slide down the legs. If the leader is close enough, they will also automatically come to their side. In the case that there are Pikmin of multiple maturities, flower Pikmin will be withdrawn first, until there are no more left, in which case bud Pikmin will be withdrawn, and finally leaf Pikmin. This is not true when Pikmin go inside the Onion – all Pikmin sent inside will go in in a random order.
In each game
When the Onions are first discovered in Pikmin, they are dormant. They have a dark grayish color, are flowerless, and their legs are buried in the ground until Olimar comes upon them, at which point they spring to life and spit out a single seed. It is not known exactly what triggers this hibernation.
In Pikmin 2, when each Onion is discovered it is already in an active state, and a few Pikmin of the same color can be found nearby.
Pikmin 3 features a mechanical spherical object with legs that looks and acts like the natural Onions in the first two games. However, at the end of day it retracts its tentacle-like arms inside itself and takes off like a rocket. Whenever a new Onion is discovered in Pikmin 3 it is absorbed by the other Onion which then displays a medley of colors from the absorbed Onion(s).
There are three known types of natural Onion, each with unique coloration corresponding to either Red, Yellow, or Blue Pikmin, and only one of each has ever been seen at once. Subterranean Pikmin species such as Purple Pikmin, White Pikmin, and Bulbmin do not have Onions, or at least none that have yet been discovered.
The Red Onion is the first Onion to be discovered in first 3 games. In Pikmin, the Red Onion is found at The Impact Site, dormant in the ground not far from where the S.S. Dolphin crashed. Once awakened, it will release a single Red Pikmin seed which Olimar can use to harvest nearby red Pellet Posies and spawn enough Pikmin to retrieve the Main Engine. In Pikmin 2, Louie finds this Onion in the Valley of Repose when he falls out of the Ship's cockpit and gets lost.
The second Onion the player will come across in the first 2 games. In Pikmin, it is found dormant in The Forest of Hope amidst several yellow Pellet Posies and free-standing yellow pellets. In Pikmin 2, the Yellow Onion is located in the Perplexing Pool behind a poison gate protected by a Fiery Bulblax, so White Pikmin and Red Pikmin are required to reach it. There are a few yellow Pellet Posies nearby which will not regrow once they've been harvested.
In Pikmin, it can be found in The Forest Navel in a pool near the landing site, and is the third Onion the player discovers. Several blue Pellet Posies are in the immediate vicinity, as well as a free-standing blue 5 pellet. In Pikmin 2, the Blue Onion is located in the Awakening Wood; although it can be seen relatively early in the game, it lies behind an electric gate, meaning that Yellow Pikmin from the Perplexing Pool are required to access it. A small pool blocks the only direct path up to the gate, so the Pikmin must be thrown onto a nearby ledge (while taking care not to disturb the Cloaking Burrow-nit lying in wait there). The Captain can then walk around through some water to reach them, and order them to defeat the beast and demolish the gate, allowing him to find the game's first 5 Blue Pikmin.
For some unknown reason, when landing on an area, the Blue Onion seems to hover a bit before landing, therefore landing slower than the Red Onion and Yellow Onion.
In a promotional video for Pikmin 3 released in the May 17th Nintendo Direct, an apparently artificial multicolored onion was shown, changing between red and grey colors. Along with the existence of grey-colored pellets, this confirms that the Rock Pikmin will have Onions. Further videos indicate that this "Onion" is used by every available Pikmin type.
Individual Onion types still exist, but these small Onions merge together to make one main Onion. At the end of a day, any newly discovered Onion that isn't a part of the main one will be merged while taking off.
Additionally, the majority of one type of Pikmin carrying an object to the Onion will determine which type of Pikmin the Onion produces. For example, ten Rock Pikmin and five Red Pikmin are carrying a Red Bulborb to the Onion, so Rock Pikmin will be produced.
|The Pikmin ending|
At the end of Pikmin, there is a rather confusing part where fourteen Onions, with colors that have not appeared in a Pikmin game so far, fly above the Planet of the Pikmin. It is unknown whether they are trying to follow Captain Olimar or merely hovering for the night. This was thought to mean that more colors would be introduced in Pikmin 3, though this was only the case with the Pink(winged) and Black(grey) onions. Interestingly, one of the Onions seen is purple, and Purple Pikmin were indeed introduced in Pikmin 2, but without an Onion.
The number of Pikmin created when a pellet is delivered to an Onion is larger if the pellet type matches the Onion's. This should be taken into account when ordering Pikmin to carry a pellet, in order to maximize the number of Pikmin obtained.
When the Onion generates Pikmin, in order to save time, like on a speedrun, it is best to withdraw Pikmin from Onions so that the field total reaches 100. This is because the Pikmin will be expelled as seeds in case there are less than 100 Pikmin on the field. The process of waiting for the seeds to be expelled and planted, waiting for them to grow stems, and plucking them is quite lengthy. The time it takes to withdraw the Pikmin that cap the counter, and in the case of the new Pikmin being a different type, the time it takes to store them again and retrieve the new Pikmin, is considerably smaller overall. In speedruns, the route is normally planned out so that, whenever possible, the field counter is capped when new Pikmin are generated. Normally, it's also organized so that no time is wasted withdrawing Pikmin just to avoid plucking the new ones.
In Pikmin 2, after the Five-man Napsack has been obtained, the Pikmin can be told to carry a lying leader to an Onion if the player holds / . This carries the advantage of having one leader go to an Onion automatically while the player can control the other leader, which increases the multitasking potential. This can also be done in the first game, by holding / , but because there is only one leader, the multitasking advantage does not exist. This feature has been removed in Pikmin 3 in favor of the "Go Here" command on the KopPad.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Brawl, the three Onions appear as a trophy and on the "Distant Planet" stage. Here, when a pellet is thrown into one, an item is ejected. The number on the pellet thrown is the amount of items that will appear. More items will appear if the pellet and Onion have the same color, similar to the way it works in the Pikmin games. The Onions can also be hit, and will eventually fly away.
"Items considered to be the places where Pikmin are born. As to the actual biology of the process, much is still unclear. Onions absorb the prey that Pikmin capture and use it to produce new Pikmin. In addition, Onions can take in Pikmin and later release them. These organisms are crowned with distinctive propeller-like sets of leaves that spin around, enabling them to fly."
- When Olimar first came upon the Red Onion in Pikmin, he was knocked over by one of the legs as it sprang out of the ground. When he finds the other two later on in the game, he is a little more cautious and backs away.
- If, on a day where Olimar or Louie finds an Onion, a cave is entered after whistling the wild Pikmin, the Onion will be at the landing site when the cave is left.
- In Pikmin, one of Olimar's last voyage logs states that he inspected the Onion's legs, and saw that they were covered with tiny little hairs.
- The Onions appear to have some level of sentience, as they know to expel a Pikmin seed in the case of a Pikmin Extinction, and know not to suck in leaders that are being carried; except in one circumstance, in the bad ending of Pikmin.
- It is possible to whistle the Pikmin as they are exiting the Onion. While mostly aesthetic, this can be used to bring a Pikmin to the party slightly faster than normal. In Pikmin, the Pikmin will rarely react to the whistle, while in Pikmin 2, they'll react to it almost every time.
Names in other languages
|Portuguese (Portugal)||Onion||"Onion"||Translation taken from the Pikmin instruction manual.|
To do: Find the exact cap.
- Naturally, because of hardware limitations, there is a hard limit on the number of Pikmin that can be stored inside an Onion, but it is usually too large to be reached realistically.