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Crow Garlic strip

Crow Garlic - Allium vineale

Crow Garlic - Allium vineale

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Crow Garlic, Wild Onion, Field Garlic, Stag's Garlic, Onion Grass, False Garlic

Season - Winter to Summer

Scientific name meaning: Allium is the Latin name for Garlic, although its original derivation is unclear. Vineale comes from the Latin Vinealis, meaning "of grape vines". This is probably a reference to the tendril-like growth from the bulbils

Crow Garlic habitat


Found in grassland including parks, gardens, on roadsides, and pasture. Found throughout the United Kingdom at elevations below 450m.

Crow Garlic structure

Overall structure

Forms clumps with foliage reaching up to 60cm in height. Resembles tufts of grey-green grass. It grows more rapidly than most grass species, so is often easy to spot a few days after an area has been mowed.

Crow Garlic leaf


Tubular and grey-green in green colour, the leaves can reach up to 60cm in length. The tubes can be circular or crescent-shaped when cross-sectioned. When crushed, a strong smell of pickled-onion is emitted.

Crow Garlic Flower


The globe-shaped umbel consists mostly or entirely of deep red bulbils - small bulb-like structures - that start to produce foliage growth while still on the plant. The odd flowers that do occur are small and pale purple in colour and scattered among the bulbils.

Chives - Crow Garlic lookalike

Possible lookalikes

Chives are very similar in appearance to Crow Garlic. The leaves of Chives are a brighter green than Crow Garlic and the umbel contains flowers rather than bulbils. The smell of Crow Garlic is also farm more onion-like than Chives. Chives are also edible.

Use as a food The leaves and bulbils seeds can be used raw in salads. The bulbils are very strongly flavoured.

The leaves can also be used in hot dishes, but cooking for long periods will diminish the flavour. They are therefore best used as one of the final steps in a recipe. 

The bulbils retain their flavour far better in cooking.

The bulbs can also be eaten (best cooked), but remember to ask the landowner's permission before digging any up, and be mindful about population damage when remove plants.

Hazards As with all Alliums, avoid excessive consumption

Use in herbal medicine Crow Garlic has been used to treat internal parasites, flatulence, asthma, and coughs. It has also been prepared for its diuretic, cathartic and stimulant properties. 

Alliums as a family are used to reduced cholesterol levels, and improve digestion and circulation

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses Has been used as a moth and insect repellent, as well as a mole deterrent

Importance to other species None known - please let us know if you are aware of any

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

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