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Allium ursinum - L.

Common Name Wild Garlic
Family Alliaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in very large quantities and by some mammals, of this species. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[76].
Habitats Damp soils in woods, copses, valleys and similar moist shady localities[9].
Range Much of Europe, including Britain, east to the Caucasus and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Allium ursinum Wild Garlic

(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
Allium ursinum Wild Garlic
(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium ursinum is a BULB growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from February to June, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from May to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 5, 9, 12, 24]. Usually available from late January[K]. One report says that they have an overpowering garlic odour that dissipates on cooking[183], though our experience is that they are considerably milder than garlic[K]. The leaves make a very nice addition to salads, and are especially welcome as a vital and fresh green leaf in the middle of winter[K]. Flowers - raw or cooked. These are somewhat stronger than the leaves, in small quantities they make a decorative and very tasty addition to salads[K]. The flowering heads can still be eaten as the seed pods are forming, though the flavour gets even stronger as the seeds ripen[K]. Bulb - raw or cooked[2]. A fairly strong garlic flavour, though it is quite small and fiddly to harvest[K]. The bulbs can be harvested at any time the plant is dormant from early summer to early winter. Harvested in early summer, they will store for at least 6 months[K]. The bulbs can be up to 4cm long and 1cm in diameter[00]. The small green bulbils are used as a caper substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antiasthmatic  Anticholesterolemic  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Astringent  Cholagogue  Depurative  
Diaphoretic  Disinfectant  Diuretic  Expectorant  Febrifuge  Hypotensive  Rubefacient  
Stimulant  Stomachic  Tonic  Vasodilator

Ramsons has most of the health benefits of the cultivated garlic, A. sativum[7, 238], though it is weaker in action[254]. It is therefore a very beneficial addition to the diet, promoting the general health of the body when used regularly. It is particularly effective in reducing high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels[9]. It is recognised as having a good effect on fermentative dyspepsia[244]. All parts of the plant can be used, but the bulb is most active. The plant is anthelmintic, antiasthmatic, anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, cholagogue, depuritive, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypotensive, rubefacient, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator[7, 21]. Ramsons ease stomach pain and are tonic to the digestion, so they can be used in the treatment of diarrhoea, colic, wind, indigestion and loss of appetite[254]. The whole herb can be used in an infusion against threadworms, either ingested or given as an enema[254]. The herb is also beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema[254]. The juice is used as an aid to weight loss and can also be applied externally to rheumatic and arthritic joints where its mild irritant action and stimulation to the local circulation can be of benefit[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Companion  Disinfectant  Repellent

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles[20]. The juice of the plant has been used as a general household disinfectant[7].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers woodland conditions in a moist well-drained soil[203]. Plants are often found in the wild growing in quite wet situations[K]. When growing in suitable conditions, wild garlic forms a dense carpet of growth in the spring and can be a very invasive plant[24, 203, K]. It dies down in early summer, however, allowing other plants to grow in the same space[K]. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1]. The seeds are dispersed by ants[244]. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes[18, 20, 54]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[201]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe either in situ or in a cold frame. It germinates quickly and can be grown on in the greenhouse for the first year, planting out the dormant bulbs in the late summer of the following year. Stored seed can be sown in spring in a greenhouse. Division in summer after the plants have died down. Very easy, the divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Carolynn Rodgers   Mon Jul 7 02:49:55 2003

[email protected] Have not been able to find a source of seed or bulbs of Ramsons in the US. I'd like to see if they will survive in California's Sacramento Valley. Can anyone out there help?

luk   Wed Sep 29 10:35:43 2004

I am interested in any information about Allium ursinum aspecially in its use in medicine (formal and unformal). I am also looking for information about its ingredients, how this substances work , if i can find thwem in some other plants I wanted to know where it grows , what are the wheather- and ground-conditions of such places. I will be gratefull for all news about A. ursinum also e-mail links , site's address, etc. luk [email protected]

John Fielding   Sun Apr 2 2006

The leaves shredded make a tasty addition to a peanut butter sandwich

Bleaklowjohn General interest of the countryside and moorland

Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D.   Sun Jun 18 2006

Having been directly involved myself in research on Allium ursinum, I suspect that the toxicity warning actually involves mistaken intake of autumn croccus. Moreover, in comparative trials, Wild Garlic proved superior to cultivated garlic in reducing blood pressure and LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol levels. For this research, see: Preuss HG, Clouatre D, Mohamadi A, Jarrell ST. Wild garlic has a greater effect than regular garlic on blood pressure and blood chemistries of rats. Int Urol Nephrol. 2001;32(4):525-30. When groups of 10 Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR) were fed diets containing either 1% w/w regular garlic (Allium sativum) (AS) or 1% w/w wild garlic (Allium ursinum) (AU) for 45 days, the final mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) was reduced significantly compared to control (C) (C 189; AS 175; Au 173 mm Hg). Compared to C, body weight and circulating glucose and triglyceride levels were not significantly different; but circulating insulin was significantly higher (C 23.6; AS 33.9; AU 29.5 uIU/dl), and total cholesterol was significantly lower (C 133; AS 115; AU 117 mg/dl) in the two groups consuming AS or AU. HDL rose in the two garlic groups, but the differences from C were statistically significant only for the AU group. In a second study, the effects of a lower dose of dietary AS and AU (0.1% w/w) on SBP and various blood chemistries were compared head-to-head in 80 SHR-40 control and 40 test rats. Both AS and AU decreased SBP significantly compared to a control group of 10 SHR followed simultaneously. However, AU at this lower concentration produced a significantly greater SBP-lowering effect compared to the AS group. In addition, AU decreased total cholesterol significantly and tended to increase HDL compared to AS. Accordingly, the results suggest that AU has a greater therapeutic benefit compared to AS at a given concentration. Mohamadi A, Jarrell ST, Shi SJ, Andrawis NS, Myers A, Clouatre D, Preuss HG. Effects of wild versus cultivated garlic on blood pressure and other parameters in hypertensive rats. Heart Dis. 2000 Jan-Feb;2(1):3-9. Two separate studies were performed on hypertensive rats to assess the effects of wild, uncultivated garlic on elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) and other cardiovascular parameters. Also, effects of wild garlic and cultivated garlic preparations were compared and the mechanisms behind pressure-lowering abilities of different garlic preparations were examined. The initial study determined that wild garlic lowers blood pressure. In the second study, cardiovascular effects of three different concentrations of wild garlic and two different cultivated garlics, i.e., a preparation low in allicin and one high in allicin, were compared. All three garlic preparations decreased SBP significantly. Wild garlic produced the greatest pressure-lowering effects, and the least pressure-lowering effects were seen with low-allicin garlic. Compared with control rats, circulating angiotensin II levels were significantly lower in all garlic-eating rats. Losartan decreased blood pressure significantly less and Nw-nitro-L arginine-methyl ester hydrochloride (LNAME) increased blood pressure significantly more in garlic-eating rats than in control rats, suggesting that the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) was less active and the nitric oxide system more active in garlic-consuming hypertensive rats. Accordingly, different garlic preparations, especially wild garlic, favorably influenced high SBP in hypertensive rats. These results suggest that both the RAS and the nitric oxide system are involved in the antihypertensive effects of garlic in hypertensive rats.

Raluca   Tue Oct 24 2006

Hey,there,I agree with Dallas C(he seems to be more than scientifically-intim with this subject) ,must be a confusion between Allium Ursinum and toxic autumn croccus,as far as I know,wild garlic,can´t give this bad simptoms,even if it is, let say "overtaked":)).What can I say,is that,this plant is verry popular in Romania,where is also called "LEURDA" and here is used since ages:)))for folkloric gourmand-recipies and also for medical reasons,especially in the spring time,when the leavs are green- freche and are collected in quite large quantities for salads.I proudly say( without exagerating) Romania is well known as being one of the richest land "green-gold",mean,the soil over here,offer best support for hundred of species of medical plants.Living long time outside Romania,I´m intrested to know if Allium Ursinum can be found in fresh or dry stage on the european market,as a food product or spicy,or however....Scandinavian part of Europe is out of question in order to aclimatizate(??this is the word?)this plant here. I´llbe more than happy if Dallas Clouatre,who seems to be really informed!!can share other informations about plants..medical plants!Best wishes from here!

Vietta Clark   Mon Jan 15 2007

The bottom of my garden (a woodland area) has come alive with bright green spear-like leaves that taste like strong, hot garlic. The previous owner of this house told me about the "mass of wild garlic flowers" that initially emerge in January/February but research on the web only details wild garlic (ransons) with a much broader "lily-of-the-valley" type leaf. I'm pretty sure these plants are of the garlic family but could they be another type?

River46   Tue Mar 25 2008

This type of wild garlic grows all over our small farm in Southern Illinois. Though I believe the species is Allium vineale. It resembles chives but has a strong garlic fragrance. In early spring I use the chopped leaves in pasta salads and chicken soups. In the spring the leaves are tender. As summer approaches the leaves become tough. People who have tasted my chicken soup in the Spring has said it is delicious and makes them feel good. This is a tradition with me and spring. I have dried the bulbs in bunches to use for later use. Most people consider wild garlic a weed, but many plants that are considered weeds are good for you! I will try to take photos of my wild garlic and post on the yahoo group.

Marinella Zepigi   Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Allium ursinum L. s.l. - Description - Photos

Marinella Zepigi   Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Allium ursinum L. s.l. - Description - Photos

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