Wild garlic (Ramsons)

Wild garlic leaves (Allium ursinum)

Table of Contents

Wild Garlic: Plant profile

Common names

Wild garlic, ramson, bear’s garlic, broad-leaved garlic, gypsy’s onions, wood garlic, buckrams, stinking Jenny

Botanical name

Allium ursinum

Plant family

Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis), Subfamily: Allioideae (Onion)

Geographical distribution

Native to Europe and Asia. Introduced in North America. Common in Ireland and the British Isles, except further north Scotland and the Channel Islands.

Where to find Wild Garlic

Ancient woodland and shaded hedgerows.

When to find Wild Garlic

Leaves late winter to early summer and flowers late spring to mid-summer.

Wild garlic


Wild garlic is one of the earliest greens to poke through the soil in spring. These glossy, pointed leaves are extremely prolific plants at this time of the year and are a gift to the wild gourmet.

Ramsons, as are also known, like damp soil and will grow in full shade, in the same sorts of places as bluebells grow, like shady banked verges of hedgerows and ancient woodland.

Beautiful star-shaped flowers signal the imminent end of the wild garlic season and shortly after the bloom droops away, the leaves start to wither and die back.

Culinary uses and recipes with Wild Garlic

All parts are edible and taste of garlic, but it is the leaves of the plant that are mainly collected. Although the smell is very pungent, the flavour of wild garlic is not as powerful as the conventional garlic (Allium sativum).

You can use it in omelettes, soups, stir fries and a sort of pesto sauce, which is very popular amongst foragers. The leaves can be preserved by lacto fermentation and the flower buds can be pickled like capers.

Safe foraging

It can look similar to lilly of the valley (Convallaria majalis) or autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), but it’s easy to recognise ramsons because the leaves smell so distinctly of garlic.

Wild garlic


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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. I want to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties.

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