When most people think of garlic, they probably think of the kind you use in your kitchen. But what about wild garlic? This less common variety can be found in fields and woods across North America, and it has some distinctive features that set it apart from its culinary cousin.
Wild garlic is an edible plant that has a garlic smell but a milder flavor than regular garlic. It can be used in place of regular garlic in most recipes. But what does wild garlic look like?
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at how to identify wild garlic. So if you’re ever out for a walk and see some strange-looking plants with white flowers that smell like garlic, you’ll know what to do!
What is Wild Garlic?
Wild garlic is also known as Ramsons, Wild Cowleek, Wood Garlic, and Bear’s Garlic, and its scientific name is Allium Ursinum. It is a perennial flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia but has been naturalized in many different countries all around the world, including the United States.
As the name would tell you, it smells like garlic; it is edible and can be eaten both raw, like in salads or pastas, and cooked, as in stews and made into garlic butter.
Where Does Wild Garlic Grow?
Wild Garlic tends to grow in clumps, similar to other wildflowers. It is native to Europe’s more temperate zones and is especially common on the British Isles, where it blooms from April to June. Wind-borne seed dispersion is typically how it reproduces.
It prefers moist soil and mild acidity, and is common in deciduous woodlands. The bulbs are often located near the roots of neighboring plants such as lily or grape hyacinths. The bulbs may grow up to ¼ inch deep into the earth and reach up to an inch in diameter, storing their food supply to help grow the next year’s new crop of flowers.
How to Identify Wild Garlic
Identifying wild garlic can be tricky, as it closely resembles several other common plants. One of the most reliable indicators is its strong garlic odor, which is most noticeable when the plant is crushed or broken apart.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult with an expert before harvesting any wild plants for food or decoration. With a little practice and attention to detail, though, you’ll soon be able to identify wild garlic easily and reap all the benefits it has to offer!
Wild garlic is a plant that is known for its striking visual characteristics. The leaves are long and oval shape and dark green, and the flowers are small, thin, and white. These plants can be found in woods and hedgerows, and they often form large colonies.
The leaves have smooth, untoothed edges. The flowers have 6 small petals each at the top of a thin stalk, and there are about 20-30 flowers in a single flower cluster that can be attached to a single stalk.
Wild Garlic is a perennial plant, so you’ll often see it in the same place year after year. It flowers around late springtime, so between April and June you’ll likely see the white, small petals that bloom at the top of its stalks. However, when the flowers are not in bloom, it looks like a large floor mat of long, oval, dark green broadleaves.
Other Unique Traits
Perhaps the most unique characteristic that wild garlic has over other plants is the fact that it smells like garlic. This scent is thought to help deter predators, as well as attract pollinators. The unique aroma of wild garlic is something that can be found in many wooded areas throughout the world. With its distinctive scent, garlic plants are easily distinguishable from other plants in the forest.
This fragrance draws people in with its wild and earthy aroma, perfuming the air with a sense of mystery and intrigue. Before you even see any wild garlic plants, your nose can tell you where they are and how many. If the flowers are smelling only faintly of garlic, crush them a bit in your hands and they will smell more strongly. It could sometimes smell similar to onion as well.
Plants That Look Like Wild Garlic
At first glance, wild garlic and lily-of-the-valley may look alike. Both have white flowers and bulbs that grow in shady, damp areas. However, lily-of-the-valley is a poisonous plant, while wild garlic is not. In fact, all parts of the lily-of-the-valley plant are poisonous if eaten, and can cause serious health problems such as vomiting and irregular heartbeat.
If you come across a white flower growing in the wild, it can be a significant mistake if you end up eating the wrong plant. Because of this, be sure that what you’re eating is wild garlic! Always consult a professional if you are even the least unsure. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Additionally, Garlic Mustard is another plant that also smells strongly of garlic when crushed. This weed is also dangerous to eat in every part of the United States, and while it is edible in Europe it’s still poisonous in its first year of growth. Because of this, it is best to combine the visual characteristics and scent of wild garlic to ensure that it is in fact the correct plant you have found.
How to Get Rid of Wild Garlic
There are a few ways to kill wild garlic if you find it growing in your yard. You can pull up by hand all of the wild garlic bulbs you see, before they have a chance to sprout. You may want to use a digging fork or a spade if you are removing large clusters of the weed, as the bulbs are difficult to remove fully, and if you leave even a partial bulb submerged in the soil it could re-grow next year.
Additionally, there are a few weed killing herbicides one can use on wild garlic. Your best bet is to use a weed killer with either 2,4-D or Glyphosate as an active ingredient, as these will be the most effective at removing it for good. However, these herbicides kill all plants they come into contact with, so be sure you are only spraying the weeds you want gone. Always fully read the label for instructions and safety precautions before using a weed killer.
So, there you have it! Everything you ever wanted to know about wild garlic. Wild garlic is a plant that can be found in many parts of the world. It has characteristic white flowers and green leaves with a strong garlicky smell. While it may be beneficial to some, it can also be harmful to others.
Now that you can identify this plant, be sure to keep an eye out for it next spring when it starts popping up in fields and forests near you. As always, if you are unsure if something is wild garlic, it is always best to consult with an expert.
If you’re lucky enough to find a big patch of wild garlic, go ahead and harvest as much as you need—just make sure to leave some behind so future foragers can enjoy too. And finally, if you’re struggling with how to get rid of wild garlic once it pops up in your garden, never fear! We’ve got tips for that too. Happy foraging!