Herbs & Plants

Allium ursinum

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Botanical Name : Allium ursinum
Family : Alliaceae
Genus :Allium
Kingdom: Plantae
Species: A. ursinum
Other Names:Ramsons,  buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, sremuš or bear’s garlic

Habitat  : Much of Europe, including Britain, east to the Caucasus and W. Asia.  Damp soils in woods, copses, valleys and similar moist shady localities.Woodland Garden; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Deep Shade; Hedgerow;  Common in woods and shady places, often carpeting the ground in Spring.


Allium ursinum  grows in deciduous woodlands with moist soils, preferring slightly acidic conditions. They flower before deciduous trees leaf in the spring, filling the air with their characteristic garlic-like scent. The stem is triangular in shape and the leaves are similar to those of the lily of the valley. Unlike the related crow garlic and field garlic, the flower-head contains no bulbils, only flowers. Bulb grows to 0.3m by 0.3m.

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It is hardy to 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 flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.(Flower diameter c 1.6 cm). The broad leaves are completely unlike those of Crow Garlic or any other British Allium species.  Flower-buds at first wrapped in pair of brown papery bracts.  Stem 3-cornered (corners sometimes very rounded)

A number of different plant species of the genus Allium are known as Wild Garlic:

Allium vineale (also known as Crow Garlic)
Allium drummondii, Drummond’s onion
Allium canadense, Wild onion
Allium triquetrum, Three-cornered leek

You may click to see the wild garlic bulb :
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

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

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.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.
Leaves – raw or cooked. Usually available from late January. One report says that they have an overpowering garlic odour that dissipates on cooking, though our experience is that they are considerably milder than garlic. 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 or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. 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. Bulb – raw or cooked. A fairly strong garlic flavour, though it is quite small and fiddly to harvest. 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. The bulbs can be up to 4cm long and 1cm in diameter. The small green bulbils are used as a caper substitute.

The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. The bulbs and flowers are also very tasty.

Allium ursinum leaves are also used as fodder. Cows that have fed on ramsons give milk that tastes slightly of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th century Switzerland.

The first evidence of the human use of Allium ursinum comes from the mesolithic settlement of Barkaer (Denmark) where an impression of a leaf has been found. In the Swiss neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier (Cortaillod culture) there is a high concentration of ramsons pollen in the settlement layer, interpreted by some as evidence for the use of ramsons as fodder.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses:-

Anthelmintic; Antiasthmatic; Anticholesterolemic; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Astringent; Cholagogue; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Hypotensive; Rubefacient; Stimulant; Stomachic; Tonic; Vasodilator.

Ramsons has most of the health benefits of the cultivated garlic, A. sativum, though it is weaker in action. 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. 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. 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. The whole herb can be used in an infusion against threadworms, either ingested or given as an enema. The herb is also beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. 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.

Although largely unknown in the United States, in 1989, A. ursinum was called “the new star” of garlic in the German health journal Therapiewoche (Therapy Week) and in 1992, was declared the European medicinal “Plant of the Year” by the Association for the Protection and Research on European Medicinal Plants.  Allium ursinum contains much more ajoene and an about twentyfold higher content of adenosine than its ‘cultivated cousin.’ Just these substances are the ones to which, according to recent studies, an essential part of the known allium effects such as reduction of cholesterine, inhibition of thombocyte-aggregation, drop in blood pressure, improvement of blood-rheology and fibrinolysis are attributed.  A. ursinum has all the benefits of the A. sativum products that are found on the market. However, A. ursinum has three advantages over this domesticated garlic: 1) It has more of the active substances ; 2) It has active substances not found in cultivated garlic, or found only when large quantities are taken; 3) It is odorless. What distinguishes wild garlic from its garlic relative is, above all, the aroma. Although fields of wild garlic can be identified from afar by their characteristic odor, you are generally spared from ‘garlic breath’ if you eat wild garlic leaves.  Wild garlic also regulates the digestion and prevents problems caused by the iron intake. Professor Holger Kiesewetter of the Homburg University Clinic has now found that one gram of wild garlic per day increases blood circulation and significantly improves blood flow.   Wild Garlic cleanses the blood and intestines. It improves the intestinal flora and is effective against acne, fungus and eczema. It also lowers high blood pressure, fights arteriosclerosis, and increases the body’s immune system.  Because ramsons ease stomach pain and are tonic to the digestion, they have been used for diarrhea, colic, gas, indigestion and loss of appetite.  The whole herb is used in an infusion against threadworms, either ingested or given as an enema.  Ramsons are also thought to be beneficial for asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.  The juice is used as an aid to losing weight.  Applied externally, the juice is a mild irritant.  It stimulates local circulation and may be of benefit in treating rheumatic and arthritic joints.

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Other Uses
Disinfectant; Repellent.

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

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.

Similarity to poisonous plants
Allium ursinum  leaves are easily mistaken for lily of the valley, sometimes also those of Colchicum autumnale and Arum maculatum. All three are poisonous and possibly deadly. A good means of positively identifying ramsons is grinding the leaves between one’s fingers, which should produce a garlic-like smell. When the leaves of ramsons and Arum maculatum first sprout they look similar, however unfolded Arum maculatum leaves have irregular edges and many deep veins while ramsons leaves are convex with a single main vein. The leaves of lily of the valley come from a single purple stem, while the ramsons leaves have individual green-coloured stems.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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3 replies on “Allium ursinum”

Wild garlic is one of my favorite herbs. I wait for it the whole year :).

Sure, I can buy it from local drug stores in tincture form, but when I eat it fresh, it has an awesome taste. Now, in the spring, I buy it from the farmer's market, and I love every bite.

I always wanted to "upgrade" my memory, and it seems that wild garlic is the ingredient I was looking for. It seems wild garlic enhances memory and concentration ability.

As i'm born and grew up in North Caucasus I sure know what is wild garlic, I live in US and in last 6 years I hiked.walked lot's of wood in North America didn't find any:))) but I do believe it's there some where close to Canada:) now found and ordered some seed planing to plan some this spring,

People eat garlic it's good for you:))

Realy great article! Must say I`ve made tincture of garlic last year. For the copule of days I just can`t get used to it`s taste but finally I did 🙂 After about 2 months I`ve notice some major positive effects on my body. I highly recommend in any form of this plant

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