Herb: Wild Garlic

Latin name: Allium ursinum

Family: Alliaceae (Onion Family)

Medicinal use of Wild Garlic:

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. 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.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Damp soils in woods, copses, valleys and similar moist shady localities.

Edible parts of Wild Garlic:

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. Flowers - raw or cooked. These are somewhat stronger than the leaves, in small quantities they make a decorative and very tasty addition to salads. 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.

Other uses of the herb:

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.

Propagation of Wild Garlic:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp soils in woods, copses, valleys and similar moist shady localities.

Known hazards of Allium ursinum:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.