Disclaimer: Wild Garlic and Wild Onions have multiple dangerous look-alikes. Not the least of which is an Appalachian plant known as Fly Poison (Amianthium). Fly Poison is said to be so toxic that people have died because they touched the leaves and failed to wash their hands before eating.
As I was crossing my yard I suddenly picked up a strong odor of onion rose up from the grass. I looked down to find that I had just stepped on a cluster of garlic.
Locally known as “wild onions” or “Crow Garlic” this stinky little plant is just as useful as it’s larger cousins found in grocery stores and gardens. As children thus was one of the first plants that I learned. I was taught to pinch off a bit of the leaf and smell it before I tried it. The rule of thumb is to never eat a plant that looks like a onion but doesn’t smell like an onion. As stated in the disclaimer the Fly Poison plant is one that has a reputation for causing fatalities. I am pretty sure that I have fly poison on my place as well but it doesn’t come up until Spring where the wild garlic is available almost all year round.
The green leaves of wild garlic can simply be snipped with a set of shears and sprinkled like chives. Mixed into butter for garlic bread or just tossed into a salad. The bulb is small but as you can see in the photo they grow in clumps and collectively a colony of wild garlic can provide a fair amount of mass. When it goes to seed the top will have a cluster of tiny bulblets that will eventually take root.
I find the flavor to be a bit stronger than regular garlic so it doesn’t take advantage much to get the flavor.
Like the garden variety of garlic wild garlic has a long history of being used in folk medicine. Science has proven that garlic has some antibiotic and antimicrobial use and it’s high in some vitamins and minerals including a form a sulphur that can be absorbed by the body.
About those vampires and garlic. I thought it be a fun fact to look up how that came to be but like everything else the internet is ablaze with debate. Some say origin goes back as far ancient Egypt while others believe that Bram Stoker was the first to weaponize garlic against the forces of darkness. Being a Gen-Xer it’s my opinion that the use of holy water laced with garlic was pure genius by my favorite vampire hunters from the 80s. Namely, the Frog Brothers.
The world may never know for sure how garlic became the bane of vampires. But no matter if the Frog Brothers drop by to fill their super soakers with their special anti vampire blend of holy water and garlic juice or if you want a little garlic bread to go with your spaghetti there’s a fine source of flavor and medical plant that’s probably in your back yard right now.
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