While out for a walk with my 3 kids, I came across a pretty large patch of what I believe to be Allium canadense. It’s difficult to be sure because they were not yet flowering. Allium canadense is sometimes called wild onion, and sometimes called wild garlic, or meadow garlic. Either way, I call it delicious. Wild onions and garlic are always a good find because it is such a great addition to any recipe. It’s also great for a beginner to find, because there is no wild plant that smells and tastes like onion or garlic that isn’t onion or garlic! It’s just that simple. There are lots of poisonous bulbs out there, but none of them have that signature smell or taste. Bottom line, if you aren’t sure if it smells like onions or garlic, then it ain’t garlic or onion. If you have no sense of smell, then you have no business eating onions or garlic anyway. These smelled up my wife’s car on the way home to the point where half way home she told me “Boo, I don’t want to offend, but you need to take a shower when we get home!” Ha Ha, she didn’t know about the delicious discovery that the kids & I had made, and was sitting in her rear cargo area.
One of the common names of this particular plant is meadow garlic, and it does have more of a garlic smell than onion to me. It is quite strong, and I can’t wait to cook something with it. During the spring, several species of Allium can be found all over the United States, and other parts of the world. Throughout history members of this genus have been utilized in a variety of culinary delights as well as for medicinal purposes.
Garlic has been used by nearly every society since records have been kept from the ancient Egyptians, to modern man. It has been used to flavor food, protect against evil, heal infections, treat wounds, prevent heart disease and cancer, cure the common cold, increase physical stamina, even as a cure for the bubonic plague. Warranted or not, there are literally hundreds of recorded uses throughout human history for this plant.
It was discovered in the Codex Ebers (Ebers Pypyrus), dating from 1500 BC, that the Egyptians used garlic to aid in circulation, get rid of or prevent parasites, get rid of skin ailments, increase milk production in new mothers, and as a general health tonic. The Egyptians also reportedly fed large quantities of garlic to the laborers who built the pyramids to improve their physical stamina. Garlic might be responsible for one of the Wonders of the World! They probably just finished faster so that they didn’t have to smell each other sweating out garlic in the baking desert sun.
Even after all of the hyperbole and folklore has been sifted through, there are bountiful volumes of medical research on garlic and onions, some of which states that garlic and onions (even the wild variety) have the ability to do some pretty impressive things.
- Act as an anti-inflammatory
- Acts as an antimicrobial
- Aids immune health
- Lowers risk of heard disease (including high or low blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), increase circulation, etc.)
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Make your food taste better (this is not a health benefit, but it earned a mention because it’s just so freaking good)
- Leaves can be anywhere from 6 to 20 inches long. Some are flat, and pointed as the ones pictured. Some are round and hollow like a garden onion.
- During the appropriate time of year there will be a seed pod on the end of a round stalk that will form and shoot up from the center of the plant. Eventually it will grow taller than the leaves, and open up into a white, yellow, pink, or sometimes purple flower (not pictured because these were not yet flowering). **Update** See Wild Onion/Garlic Update for pictures of the bulblets, and one of the 6 petaled flowers I found later in the warmer part of the spring.
- The flowers are umbel shaped (picture an upside down chandelier or a picture of a firework exploding in mid-air).
- They should have some version of a subterranean bulb.
- They smell like garlic or onion! Duh.
- With the use of a small shovel, trowel, or knife, dig up the bud with the roots attached.
- Arrange all the buds in one direction so you don’t have mud & dirt all over the green shoots.
- Leave some behind to propagate.
- Remember this spot for next year, and don’t tell anyone (except me) where it is!
- Clean in cool water, washing away any surface dirt & mud.
- Wrap the bulbs and exposed roots in a wet paper towel or rag, and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, keeping the paper towel moist.
AS WITH ANY OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS WEBSITE, DO NOT USE THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN FOR IDENTIFICATION OF ANY WILD PLANT OR OTHER MATERIAL. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY, AND YOU SHOULD CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED EXPERT BEFORE YOU CONSUME ANY PART OF A WILD PLANT. A MISTAKE CAN BE FATAL. DON’T BE A MORON.
DON’T CONSUME ANYTHING TO TREAT THE BODY IN ANY WAY WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING WITH A PHYSICIAN. AGAIN, DON’T BE A MORON.