As we sauntered through the woods near Lower Harlestone, Northamptonshire on Thursday evening the distinct smell of wild garlic was in the air. As I continue on my journey of ongoing knowledge about nature and the outdoors, I find myself on Google looking up facts about the wild garlic plant. So here are my findings.
Wild garlic is also known as ramsons. You will find them in shady woods where they coat the woodland floor in spring and flower usually from April to June. When they do flower it's like walking through a capret of white clouds and it is such a beautiful sight to see.
#1 – Ancient woods
Wild garlic is an ancient-woodland-indicator plant. If you spot it while you're out exploring, it could be a sign you're standing in a rare and special habitat.
#2 – Medical uses
I never knew that wild garlic has traditionally been used in medicine, the bulb being one of the key ingredients in tonics for rheumatic problems and high cholesterol.
Also, its associated sulphur components are reported to suppress tumour incidence in breast, colon, skin, uterine, oesophagus and lung cancers. Pretty powerful stuff eh! (study found at Science Direct)
#3 – It is edible (and yummy!).
My research tells me that wild garlic is also a popular foraged ingredient. Its leaves can be eaten raw in salads, or blanched and used in place of spinach, or made into a delicious soup and pesto. They have a mild garlic flavour and are at their best before the flowers appear. The flowers are also edible and can be added raw to salads.
#4 – Wild Garlic's latin name is Allium ursinum.
The second half of the Latin name, ursinum, refers to the fact that brown bears loved to eat the bulb. This also gave rise to two of its common names – bear’s leek and bear garlic.
#5 – Wild Garlic is not the same as Regular Garlic
To most people, this is obvious, but for me, I was expecting a garlic bulb underneath the flower (a bit like a carrot, but white, not orange!). The wild garlic plant is independant to the garlic plant, but they are all part of the onion family.
#6 – It gets rid of cats!
And last, but not least, wild garlic repels cats. If you find them bothersome, plant this in your garden and the potent garlic smell will keep them away. However, it may keep your neighbours away too!
I'm enjoying this process of learning something new each week. If you have a topic that you would like to contribute to these little education slots then please let me now by emailing or commenting below. Thank you