Wild garlic

wild garlic

In the Ceiriog valley today, the wild garlic lay like drifts of snow under the trees.

Wild garlic, also known as Ramsons, is a bulbous perennial common to damp woodlands and hedge banks. The German word for wild garlic is Bärlauch meaning ‘bear’s garlic’. The botanical name allium ursinum and the French name l’ail des ours means the same thing. Apparently when the European brown bear came out of hibernation, the first thing it would eat, if available, was wild garlic.

The broad, bright green leaves start into growth in spring and flop over at their widest point. They have a characteristic garlic smell, so fortunately can easily be distinguished from similarly shaped leaves of Lily-of-the-Valley which is toxic. Between April and June the flowers appear. They are white and star-like.

All parts of the plant are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. Ramsons also has great health giving properties: it has antioxidant properties which reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and the juice has antiseptic properties. The active ingredients are more concentrated in the leaves.

The leaves gathered in the spring before the flowers open can be made into a pesto, eaten in sandwiches or chopped and used as a garnish in salads, soups or in mashed potato.

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