We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Allium vineale - L.

Common Name Crow Garlic, Wild garlic, Compact onion, False Garlic, Wild, Onion
Family Alliaceae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this species. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[76].
Habitats Fields and roadsides to elevations of 450 metres in Britain, often a serious weed of pastures[17].
Range Much of Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa and Lebanon.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Allium vineale Crow Garlic, Wild garlic, Compact onion, False Garlic, Wild, Onion

(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
Allium vineale Crow Garlic, Wild garlic, Compact onion, False Garlic, Wild, Onion
(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future


Translate this page:


A perennial, bulb-forming species wild onions, native to Europe, northwestern Africa and the Middle East. All parts of the plant have a strong garlic odour. The underground bulb is 1-2 cm diameter. Other Common Names: English: field garlic; wild garlic; wild onion. Spanish: ajito de las vinas; ajo cimarron. French: ail des vignes. Portuguese: alho-das-vinhas. Germany: Weinberg- Lauch. Italy: aglio delle vigne. Netherlands: kraailook. Sweden: sandloek.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium vineale is a BULB growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from October to August, in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses:

Leaves - raw or cooked[5, 177]. Rather stringy, they are used as a garlic substitute[2, 12, K]. The leaves are available from late autumn until the following summer, when used sparingly they make a nice addition to the salad bowl[8, 183, K]. Bulb - used as a flavouring[105, 161, 177]. Rather small, with a very strong flavour and odour[183]. The bulbs are 10 - 20mm in diameter[200]. Bulbils - raw or cooked. Rather small and fiddly, they have a strong garlic-like flavour[K].

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.
Antiasthmatic  Blood purifier  Carminative  Cathartic  Diuretic  Expectorant  Stimulant  Vasodilator

The whole plant is antiasthmatic, blood purifier, carminative, cathartic, diuretic, expectorant, hypotensive, stimulant and vasodilator[20, 257]. A tincture is used to prevent worms and colic in children, and also as a remedy for croup[257]. The raw root can be eaten to reduce blood pressure and also to ease shortness of breath[257]. Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system[K].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses


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 can be rubbed on exposed parts of the body to repel biting insects, scorpions etc[257].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil[1]. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1]. 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]. This species is a pernicious weed of grassland in Britain[1], spreading freely by means of its bulbils[203]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Plants do not need any encouragement, they are more than capable of propagating themselves. Bulbils are produced in abundance in the summer and are the main means by which the plant spreads.

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.

Possibly a noxious weed in parts of Australia, North America (esp. Arkansas, California, Hawaii), and Kenya.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Allium acuminatumHooker's Onion, Tapertip onionBulb0.3 5-9  LMNDM322
Allium aflatunensePersian Onion, Ornamental OnionBulb1.0 4-8 MLMNM221
Allium akaka Bulb0.2 7-10  LMNDM321
Allium altaicum Bulb0.3 -  LMNM321
Allium ampeloprasumWild Leek, Broadleaf wild leekBulb1.8 5-9  LMHNDM532
Allium ampeloprasum babingtoniiBabington's LeekBulb1.8 0-0  LMHNDM332
Allium angulare Bulb0.0 -  LMNM321
Allium angulosumMouse GarlicBulb0.5 4-8  LMHSNM321
Allium atropurpureum Bulb1.0 7-10  LMSNM321
Allium bisceptrumAspen Onion, Twincrest onionBulb0.3 7-10  LMNM321
Allium bodeanum Bulb0.2 -  LMNDM321
Allium bolanderiBolander's OnionBulb0.2 6-9  LMNM321
Allium brevistylumShortstyle OnionBulb0.5 -  LMNMWe321
Allium canadenseCanadian Garlic, Meadow garlic, Fraser meadow garlic, Hyacinth meadow garlicBulb0.5 4-8  LMSNMWe422
Allium canadense mobilenseCanadian GarlicBulb0.5 4-8  LMSNMWe521
Allium carinatumKeeled GarlicBulb0.6 6-9  LMHSNM321
Allium carolinianum Bulb0.4 -  LMNDM321
Allium cepaOnion, Garden onionBulb0.6 4-10  LMNM533
Allium cepa aggregatumPotato OnionBulb1.2 4-8  LMNM433
Allium cepa ascalonicumShallotBulb0.3 4-8  LMNM532
Allium cepa proliferumTree Onion, Walking OnionBulb1.2 4-8  LMNM533
Allium cernuumNodding Onion, New Mexican nodding onionBulb0.5 5-9  LMHNM522
Allium chinenseRakkyoBulb0.3 6-9  LMNM421
Allium condensatum Bulb0.6 4-8  LMNM321
Allium cupanii Bulb0.3 7-10  LMNDM321
Allium douglasiiDouglas' OnionBulb0.3 0-0  LMNDM321
Allium dregeanumWild OnionBulb0.6 -  LMNDM321
Allium drummondiiPrairie Onion, Drummond's onionBulb0.3 6-9  LMNM321
Allium fistulosumWelsh OnionBulb0.6 5-9  LMHNM522
Allium flavumSmall Yellow Onion, Ornamental OnionBulb0.5 4-7 MLMHSNM221

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.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Michael J. Orlove D.I.C., D. Phil   Sun, 25 Jul 1999

Universe! Dear Rich, 24-July-1999

I discovered your page with the following URL:


In it you made reference to Allium ursinum, as "wild garlic". I always thought A. ursinum was a rare species in North American woods, and that in Britain and North America the term was usually applied to A vineale. It is also applied to A. canadesne as you know, and also feral populations of A. sativum whose origin in the New world is considered mysterious, Native Americans and early White settlers have both been suspected of introducing it, or possibly it spread on its own without human agency (which I doubt). A. vineale is a tubular leaved species but it is much more closely related to A. ampeloprasum, A. sativum, A., scorodoprasum, A. shaeonoprasum, and A. rosem than to A. cepa, or A. fistulosum. It is the one that is a pest in wheatfields because of the similarity of its bulbils in shape and density to wheat kernels, making mechanical separation very difficult.

what has fascinated me so much about A. vineale is its extreme variation in umbel contents even within a local population. some plants have flowers some bulbils, and some both. When bulbils are few or absent in the umbel, the blossoms are VERY showy --being companulate instead of ovatge.

At such times they are purple instead of green. The very showy form is known as A. V. capsuliferum in reference to its seed capsules. the half and half (bulbils and blossoms) form is called A. V. typicum, and the all bulbil one is A. v. compactgum. Two dark pigmented bulbilforms are also described, one reproduces like compactum, and is called A. v. fuscescens, and the other appears to have viviparous bulbils, but the "sprouts" are actually non-vestigal blades on scale leaves on the bulbils, and is known as A. v. crinitum. crinitum usually has one or 2 ovate flowers per umbel which are lavender or purple in color. All sorts of intermediates exist between these forms. Here in Ithaca fuscescens-like ones have flowers, and crinitum like ones don't or crinitum like ones will have many flowers and viable flowers with many capsuls forming.

I once found a clump of capsuliferum surrounded by a vast field of hundreds and thousands of typicum. Those typicum near the capliferum had purple flowers like the capsuliferum, but the ones farther out had the green flowers typical of typicum. The blossoms of this species are usually visited by tiny ants, sweat bees, or nothing at all, but the capsuliferum where being actively and aggressively visited by large bumblebees (Bombus pennsylvanicus --a large pocket maker, related to the British species B agrorum, but as big as B. terristris). Large paper wasps (Polistes fuscatus) were equally present and interested in the nectar.

An article by Hugo Iltis in the 1940's (it was either in Scientific Monthly or Atlantic Monthly) claimed that this showy capsuliferum form made it as far north a as North Carolina, and . v. typicum was as good as you could get in the Northeast.

Nevertheless this wonderful clump of capsuliferum I found was in the Bronx! that was in 1979, and it continued to persist there until 1983. could this have been global warming? the real question was this capsuliferum more related to the non - sexual nonspecific neighbors around it, or capsuliferum in N. Ccarolina? did it evolve denovo from non-sexual or less sexual forms?

Many biologists say it is a mystery how sex evolved to begin with (the origin - of- sex question" and it is equally a mystery how sex stays in the population and doesn't get selected against (the maintenance - of -sex question). John Maynard Smith (at the University of Susex), Goeffrey Parker (University of Liverpool), and George Williams (University of the State of New York at Stonybrook) have become famous elucidating and trying to solve this mystery. It seems that mating with a stranger may further the fitness of your offspring, but it appears not enough to justify throwing half-of your genes away, as a female does when mating. Plants with both cleistogamous and chasmogamous flowers, like Violo sp., Impatiens capensis (Orange balsam), and I. noli-tangeri (touch-me-not), and the very similar North American I. palida, not to mention the hog peanut, Amphicarpaea xxx, present a similar example of this mystery.

What are your thoughts on this issue? How far north does A. v. capsuliferum make it in Britain? I have found capsuliferum in Interlaken, N. Y. Near Ithaca, N. Y. where Cornell University is, but these ones were not as tall or showy as the ones from the much warmer Bronx. but they were capsuliferum, and made good seed. I have 2 accessions of them, one from a bulbil, and the other from a seed collected from the same umbel in Interlaken.

I have been unable to get them to blossom or even bolt with bulbils in my garden, just getting non scapigqarous growth every spring.

There is some folklore in this country that A. vineale takes on its capsuliferum form when in the vacinity of an underground stream, and dowsers exploit the information provided by the occurrence of the plant in particular instances.

Well I must go now, Please forgive my sloppy typing, I am disabled and it takes me eons to proofread things. Incidentally, are you in Cornwall, or Yorkshire?

Some day I will, if I only live, compare the DNA of different forms of A. V. vineale from different locations. the Bronx material seems to be now absent from the original site, I have been back 3 times over the years, and the material I collected now exists as seed in cold storage, but I lack access to it over a technicality (it was shipped to another storage facility instead to Harvard where I was going to grow it out, due to an accident, and it would take a very large sum to recover it, as well as the permission of the person who became its accidental owner who is not willing to release it to me. this is very frustrating.

sincerely yours,

Michael J. Orlove D.I.C., D. Phil

peter c horn   Sun Jan 22 2006

re: first paragraph of Dr Orlove's comments. Allium ursinum is a native plant in England, with common names of 'Wild garlic' and 'Ramsons.' Allium vineale, the troublesome weed of cultivated land, is called 'Wild Onion' or 'Crow garlic.'

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Allium vineale  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.