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Who doesn't love the garlic-like taste of fresh wild garlic, with the leaves of young plants being the spiciest. But where can you find it, where does fresh wild garlic grow?

In a nutshell

  • Allium ursinum is a typical spring herb
  • depending on the region, its season begins around mid-March
  • good thriving depends above all on the location
  • Wild garlic does not thrive in just any place and in any soil
  • Occurrence also varies by region

Natural Locations

Natural habitats of Allium ursinum can be found almost all over Europe with a few exceptions. In Germany, mainly in southern Germany and in the Alps, less common in the north. In some parts of northern Germany it is considered potentially endangered. Hamburg and Brandenburg even put him on the red list. Even if wild garlic grows in large stocks in some locations, it is not necessarily native there. It was partly planted artificially and then spread independently over the years. There is evidence of this in particular in the Taunus and in Schleswig-Holstein.

Benefit from the experience of other wild garlic collectors. Here you will find information about wild garlic collection points in your region.

Allium ursinum, wild garlic

Preferred in deciduous and alluvial forests

Exactly where wild garlic, also known as wild garlic, forest garlic, garlic spinach or wild garlic, grows depends on various site factors, such as the incidence of light, the right soil and the moisture content of the soil. In deciduous forests, it benefits from the light that still penetrates through the bare crowns in spring. Large stocks can be found in shady, damp and humus-rich locations, in ravines criss-crossed by streams, under trees and shrubs. Its preferred locations include maple, oak, ash and elm mixed forests, where wild garlic finds optimal conditions.

  • covers large parts of the forest floor in early spring
  • Stands extend over slopes and valleys
  • grows up to altitudes of 1900 meters above sea level
  • occurs particularly frequently in wild garlic beech forests
  • in lime beech forests (mulberry beech forest rich in wild garlic)
  • and so-called brown mole rat beech forests (moderately moist mixed beech forest)
  • Wild garlic is an indicator plant or nutrient indicator
  • is characteristic of deep, humus-rich and persistently moist and calcareous soils

Where wild garlic has settled, it usually grows in masses and forms veritable wild garlic meadows within a few years. One will look in vain for it in pine forests, as well as in fields or locations where it is exposed to direct sunlight and drought.

Notice: Due to the warming of the upper soil layer, the leaves of wild garlic yellow about two to three months after sprouting. During this time, the seeds are formed and the nutrients for new growth in spring are enriched in the bulbs.

Locations in the home garden

In nature, wild garlic is often found in so-called plant communities with wood anemone, squill, larkspur and snow cup. They all prefer soil rich in nutrients and bases, so they have very similar requirements. In the garden it's a little different. Wild garlic only grows successfully here if the conditions in terms of location and soil are as similar as possible to those of its natural habitat. Here, too, the rather idiosyncratic wild garlic does not thrive in just any location and only multiplies very reluctantly.

  • half-shady locations all year round and humus-rich soils are a must
  • in the shade of deciduous trees or hedges
  • Locations also dark in summer
  • Autumn leaves on the ground can push competitors back
  • the wild garlic loves leaf humus
  • it keeps moisture in the soil longer
  • Soil should be loose, deep, calcareous and moderately moist, no waterlogging
  • in the right location, rapid spread after a few years

Notice: It can take between three and four years for wild garlic to become native to a location and grow successfully. If too much spreading is to be prevented, a root barrier can be useful.

Collect consciously & responsibly

Every year, when the season starts and wild garlic grows in large quantities, numerous collectors flock to the forests to look for the delicious greens. However, collecting from wild stocks is not permitted without restrictions. In principle, wild garlic may only be taken for personal use and only in small quantities. Collecting for commercial purposes is not permitted, nor is extraction in designated conservation areas. In order to protect the stocks, only one leaf should be harvested per plant by cutting it off and not tearing it out. This leaves enough leaves from which the onion can store nutrients for the coming year. In order not to crush countless plants when collecting, it is advisable to only take them from the edge of the wild garlic fields.

Beware of confusion!

The risk of confusing wild garlic with wild plants that look very similar, are poisonous and sometimes even deadly is much greater. The poisonous plants, whose leaves are confusingly similar to those of wild garlic, include lily of the valley and autumn crocus. Despite the similarities, there are clear distinguishing features.

wild garlic

  • one stem per leaf
  • The underside of the leaf is dull
  • soft, delicate leaves
  • typical smell of garlic when crushed
  • Allium ursinum has a bulb
  • more than twenty flowers in a flat umbel

lily of the valley

Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis
  • two large leaves on one stem
  • Leaves embrace the stem
  • The underside of the leaves is shiny
  • nodding bell-shaped flowers
  • forms roots not a bulb
  • no onion or garlic smell

autumn crocus

Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Autumn crocus leaves grow without a stalk
  • from a rosette of three leaves at the bottom
  • Leaves noticeably firmer
  • Upper and lower leaf surface glossy
  • Autumn crocus blooms purple in late fall
  • leafless during flowering
  • no onion or garlic smell

frequently asked Questions

Until when can wild garlic be collected?

Wild garlic is always harvested before flowering. The first leaves appear as early as March. The season ends around May, when it begins to flower. The leaves lose most of their aroma. However, the flowers can then be used, they are also edible and very aromatic.

Can the taste differ depending on the location?

Yes, there are indeed differences. While wild garlic from the Alps is said to taste particularly hot and spicy, that from flatter regions has a much milder taste.

Is there a danger from the fox tapeworm?

The risk of fox tapeworm infestation is particularly high in wild-collected plants. However, this is very rare. In any case, the leaves should be washed thoroughly before consumption.

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