Everything You Need to Know About Wild Garlic

What are the traditional and modern uses of wild garlic?

I’ve written a comprehensive article on the uses of wild garlic as food and medicine, including its history and folklore here.

Can you eat wild garlic?

Yes, all parts of wild garlic are edible. From pesto to kimchi, you’ll find a list of my delicious plant-based wild garlic recipes here.

What parts of wild garlic can you eat?

Wild garlic is very diverse. It’s a joy to cook with and all parts of it are edible. Try the fresh young leaves raw. Older leaves are better cooked. The stems are deliciously sweet. The flowers are edible and look they beautiful scattered over a salad. The seeds too and even the roots can be eaten. Although see below about legality of digging roots up.

Is it illegal to pick wild garlic in the UK?

No, it is not if you are gathering the above ground parts. See my article Foraging and the Law.

If you wish to use the roots, then you need landowners permission, otherwise, it is illegal to uproot wild garlic.

Can wild garlic be mistaken for any poisonous plants?

The early leaf growth could be mistaken for Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) or Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis).

However, the best way to be certain is to crush the leaves. Wild garlic smells of “onions”. Lords and Ladies and Lily of the Valley do not.

Where do you find wild garlic?

You’ll find it growing in deciduous woodland, along hedgerows, and river banks.

It is also found all over the United Kingdom. Here’s a distribution map to see if it is available in your area.

What are the benefits of eating wild garlic?

Similar to domesticated garlic, wild garlic can be eaten to help fight off coughs and colds. Traditionally, wild garlic was a widely used medicinal herb used to treat ailments ranging from toothache, sore eyes, or warts to measles, mumps or rheumatism. Modern research suggests that, like garlic, eating wild garlic may help to reduce blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

I cover the medicinal uses of wild garlic here.

How do you store wild garlic?

Although you can blanch and freeze the leaves. I find the best way is to blend the plant in some olive oil, then pour into ice cube blocks and put in the freezer. This way you have a ready supply throughout the year.

Can you eat raw wild garlic leaves?

Most certainly. The young ones are best either raw or cooked.

Is wild garlic good for you?

See my article on the medicinal uses here.

What is the season for wild garlic?

Well, that depends on which part of the plant you are using. The leaves are best early spring, the flowers mid-spring and the seeds, late spring or early summer.

Are wild garlic bulbs edible?

Indeed they are, as mentioned before. I have a recipe for pickled wild garlic bulbs here.

Is wild garlic related to garlic?

Yes, it is part of the same family as the garlic you find in your grocery store or supermarket. Wild garlic belongs to the onion family: Alliaceae. And is in the same genus Allium.

Does wild garlic make your breath smell?

Although wild garlic is very strong in flavour raw, and the garlic flavour goes after it has been cooked. It doesn’t actually smell too bad on your breath. Unlike kitchen garlic, which honks.

Can you use wild garlic in cooking?

Certainly. I have created a lot of wild garlic recipes which you will here.

What does wild garlic taste like?

If you can imagine a more punchy spring onion, that’s the closest way I can describe it as. It’s truly delicious!

Is wild garlic protected?

It is not protected in the UK. But please read my article on foraging and the law, so you can make sure you are being a responsible and sustainable forager.

How do you eat wild garlic leaves?

I love the leaves raw in salad and pesto.

Can you use wild garlic flowers?

The flowers are delicious sprinkled over salads or to garnish a dish. I call them “botanical bling”.

Can you freeze wild garlic?

Yes, see my answer here.

Is it safe to eat wild garlic?

Yes for most people. However, it is unsuitable for people already taking blood-thinning medication or who are at risk of a condition affected by blood thinning. Also if you are allergic to the Onion family, do not eat it. As with anything, moderation is the best advice.

Are ramps the same as wild garlic?

Ramps are the name of the American wild garlic (Allium tricoccum) and can be used in the same way as our native wild garlic (Allium ursinum).

Share Your Experience. Leave A Note For Others

  1. I have two types of wild garlic in my garden, the broad leaved variety which I bought especially and grow in a large pot and another species with long slender leaves and small bell shape flowers …a bit like a bluebell…does this sound right to you, they smell oniony and I’m told it’s wild garlic but I’m not sure.

    Reply
    • Dorothy: Sounds like you might have three-cornered leek (Allium triquetrum), but you need to make certain as it also could be confused with bluebell which is poisonous. Unless you are 100% certain it is TCL, then do not eat it. Best to get a wildflower book and work through the key.

      Reply
  2. Could you tell me if you can grow wild garlic from the flowers. I have been given some cuttings but we couldn’t get the bulbs up, it is in mums garden and they are under the wall

    Reply
    • These are bulbs. You take cuttings from plants. I’d hazard a guess you could get cuttings from Lillies but as a general rule, no from bulbs. I have Turks Cap Lilly (a bulb) germinating from SEED this year. I was advised they would take 7 years to flower. Get some seed from your mother’s plant in late summer and wait 5 years. Or come to my gardeen and dig it up in exchange for bag of compost tofill the hole. DAMM weed in my garden!

      Reply
  3. Thank you for this article!

    I have been told that the leaves turn poisonous after flowering. Is there any truth to this? Many thanks!

    Reply
  4. I have not heard this (I would need to see the evidence as in science paper rather than heresay). Also traditionally the leaves are used with the flowers as tea and medicine.

    Reply
  5. Twas all I had to eat. Silly guff-bucket, but on a small wage during my younger days roaming the bush when my pounds were all spent to keep winter-warm in the pub. Thanks to a gentleman I didn’t freeze to death, after too much beer.

    Reply
  6. I picked some wild garlic leaves a few years ago. When I got it home I washed it and noticed that I’d actually plucked a bit out of the ground and there was a root. I planted it next to my pond in the garden and it grows mad every year from April to May. It’s lovely. I wrapped a whole leg of lamb in wild garlic today and roasted it in the BBQ. It was delicious It really will grow crazy. But it disappears after May. You’d never know it had grown there. Amazing stuff. I love it

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  7. I’m currently using it in nearly every meal , I’m not far from Ramsbottom so it makes sense the amount growing around the river hyndburn . The flowers are divine .

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  8. Hello Mr Harford,
    I purchased your Wild Garlic book. I’m in Texas, USA and what I’ve identified as “Field Garlic” – allium vineale grows wild on our farm. Noticed your book calls the wild garlic you are referring to as allium ursinum…what is the difference? Thx

    Reply
  9. Thank you for such an informative article. i am taking a risk of sending wild garlic bullbs in early August to Cyprus! Any advice to increase their chance of survival and growth? I understand we should plant out in October – how best to store the bulbs until then? Fridge/cupboard?

    Reply

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