Australia > All Weeds > Crow garlic

Crow Garlic

Allium vineale

Origin: Native of eastern Mediterranean countries

Africa

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Alternative Name(s): Field Garlic, Wild Garlic.

Family: Alliaceae (often included in Liliaceae).

Known Hazards: There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this species. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Habitat: Fields and roadsides to elevations of 450 metres, often a serious weed of pastures.

Edibility Rating: 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Erect herb to 1 m high. Bulbs 2.5 cm wide and to 3 cm long with a white membranous tunic, producing smaller bulbs of two types, white soft-shelled tear-drop shaped bulbs, 8–17 mm long and light brownish hard-shelled bulbs distinctly flattened on one side, 8–17 mm long. Leaves grooved on upper surface and to 60 cm long. Seeds black, not common.
Flowers: In terminal head. Flowers green, white to pink; seldom seen. Flowers summer but mostly the flowerhead is composed of vegetative small bulbs (bulbils).The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by garlic smell when crushed; small bulbs around main bulb; cylindrical stems; hollow, almost cylindrical, leaves; flowers mostly replaced by bulbils.

Dispersal: Mainly reproduces by bulbs and aerial bulbils in the inflorescence; hardshell bulbs may remain dormant for years.



Edible Uses

Flowers; Leaves; Root. Leaves - raw or cooked. Rather stringy, they are used as a garlic substitute. The leaves are available from late autumn until the following summer, when used sparingly they make a nice addition to the salad bowl. Bulb - used as a flavouring. Rather small, with a very strong flavour and odour. The bulbs are 10 - 20mm in diameter. Bulbils - raw or cooked. Rather small and fiddly, they have a strong garlic-like flavour.

Medicinal Uses

Antiasthmatic; Blood purifier; Carminative; Cathartic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Stimulant; Vasodilator. The whole plant is antiasthmatic, blood purifier, carminative, cathartic, diuretic, expectorant, hypotensive, stimulant and vasodilator. A tincture is used to prevent worms and colic in children, and also as a remedy for croup. The raw root can be eaten to reduce blood pressure and also to ease shortness of breath. Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses

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 can be rubbed on exposed parts of the body to repel biting insects, scorpions etc.

Notes: Autumn and spring germinating perennial. Seedlings grass-like. Serious winter growing weed of cereals and pastures in temperate Australia. It may contaminate milk, meat and grain with an onion odour. Clusters of bulbils shatter readily into individual bulbils and cannot be separated from cereal grain because of their size and shape.

References:


Developing bulibis. Image by AnneTanne

Developing bulibis. Image by AnneTanne

 

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