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Few-flowered garlic - Allium paradoxum

Clump of few flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum)

Edible plant - beginner Season - winter to spring Common names few flowered garlic, few flowered leek, snowdrop onion, wild leek

Scientific name meaning: Allium is the Latin word for garlic, although its original derivation is unclear. Paradoxum comes from the Greek paradoxus, meaning strange, unexpected or unaccountable.


The seeds of Wild celery (Apium graveolens)

The small grey-black seeds are oval-shaped and ridged. They appear from late summer.


Few flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum) in woodland

Introduced to the UK in the 18th century, few flowered garlic is native to the Caucasus region. It is an invasive species that has naturalised in the UK and can be found alongside roads and riverbanks, and in woodland and gardens.

Overall structure and smell

Few flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum) general structure image

Low growing and reaching only 30cm high, few flowered garlic can form dense drifts where it has established


A leaf of few flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum)

The narrow leaves are dark green and flat, with a raised midrib on the underside. Crushing the leaves produces a strong onion smell. They are erect and will curve over as the age and dehydrate.

Flower stem

The stem of few flowered garlic (Allium paradoxum)

The flower stem is narrow and has a triangular cross section.

Possible lookalikes

Clump of snowdrops (Galanthus spp) near a hedgerow

Could be easily confused with snowflakes and snowdrops (Leucojum and Galanthus spp), both of which are poisonous. Few flowered garlic looks like snowdrops at the end of their flowering season at first glance. However, it usually starts flowering after the snowdrops have finished and it smell strongly of onion, whereas snowflakes and snowdrops do not.

Use as a food All parts can be eaten, though the leaves are perhaps the best, raw or cooked. It makes a particularly good kimchi ingredient and because it is a schedule 9 plant (illegal to plant or encourage to grow in the wild) removing lots of it for consumption is not frowned upon. Digging it up still requires permission from the land owner. Hazards Like all onions, it can be toxic in excessive amounts. However, even in small amounts it can be fatal to dogs and cats.

Use in herbal medicine and medicine As with other onions and garlics, the sulphur content in few flowered garlic can help circulation and digestion, as well as lower cholesterol. If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner Other uses Used as a moth, mole and insect repellent. Importance to other species Provides a nectar source for some pollinators, but as a non-native invasive this means competition for pollinator attraction with native species.

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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