Wild garlic grows in abundance during the late winter and spring (Picture: Getty Images)It might be one of the most pungent of vegetables, but there’s no denying the versatility of the humble garlic clove.
April 19 is National Garlic Day, a day to celebrate the vegetable whose origins date back over 6,000 years – and which is as useful for its medicinal properties (it’s said to help prevent certain cancers as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol) as it is in cooking.
Garlic is of course widely available in many forms – from the dried and minced versions you can use to liven up your meals – through to whole cloves.
But if you favour foraging for your own wild garlic, just when is it in season – and what do you need to be aware of?
When is wild garlic in season?
According to the National Trust, wild garlic grows across the UK from late winter into Spring.
You can usually see it popping up around March time, and with flowers emerging from April to June.
Wild garlic – also known as ramsons – differs from the bulbs that we are used to seeing in that it consists of flat leaves and white flowers, both of which can be picked and eaten.
Wild garlic has distinct leaves and flowers (Picture: Getty Images)It has a much milder taste than conventional garlic – although care should be taken when picking it to ensure it’s actually garlic, and not the similar looking but poisonous Lily Of The Valley.
The main difference is the smell – with wild garlic having that distinctive odour – although wild garlic leaves also grow from the plant base, while Lily Of The Valley will typically have leaves on its stem.
However the National Trust advises that if you are in any doubt about whether or not it’s garlic, then do not pick and eat it.
Where can you find wild garlic?
The plants can be found in woodland across the country (Picture: Getty Images)Wild garlic thrives in woodlands around the UK – damp ground will be especially favourable to the flowers.
Although it’s not illegal to forage wild garlic in the UK, you should take care only to pick the parts that are above the ground – your best bet is to cut the leaves and flowers off with a knife.
That’s because wild plants in the UK are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it illegal to remove or dig up a plant without the permission of the landowner.
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