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September 26, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Wild Garlic

  • Wild garlicAllium vineale, aka Crow Garlic is a perennial bulbflower in the genus Allium, native to Europe, north Africa and western Asia. 
  • The species was introduced into Australia and North America, where it has become an invasive species.
  • All parts of the plant have a strong garlic odour. 

Know your Wild Garlic – Botany

  • The underground bulb is 1-2 cm diameter, with a fibrous outer layer. 
  • The main stem grows to 30-120 cm tall, bearing 2-4 leaves and an apical inflorescence 2-5 cm diameter comprising a number of small bulbils and none to a few flowers, subtended by a basal bract. 
  • The leaves are slender hollow tubes, 15-60 cm long and 2-4 mm thick, waxy textured, with a groove along the side of the leaf facing the stem. 
  • The flowers are 2-5 mm long, with six petals varying in colour from pink to red or greenish-white. 
  • It flowers in the summer, June to August in northern Europe. 
  • Plants with no flowers, only bulbils, are sometimes distinguished as the variety Allium vineale var. compactum, but this character is probably not taxonomically significant.

Know your Wild Garlic – Uses

  • While Allium vineale has been suggested as a substitute for garlic, it has an unpleasant aftertaste compared to that of garlic itself. 
  • It imparts a garlic-like flavour and odour on dairy and beef products when grazed by livestock. 
  • It is considered a pestilential invasive weed, as grain products may become tainted with a garlic odour or flavour in the presence of aerial bulblets at the time of harvest. 
  • Wild garlic is resistant to herbicides due to the structure of its leaves, being vertical, smooth and waxy. Herbicides do not cling well to it and are therefore not as effective.

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