Crow garlic
Umbel showing bulbils and a few flowers
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
A. vineale
Binomial name
Allium vineale
  • Allium affine Boiss. & Heldr.
  • Allium arenarium Wahlenb. 1828, illegitimate homonym not L. 1753
  • Allium assimile Halácsy
  • Allium campestre Schleich. ex Steud.
  • Allium compactum Thuill.
  • Allium descendens W.D.J.Koch 1837, illegitimate homonym not L. 1753
  • Allium laxiflorum Tausch
  • Allium littoreum Bertol. 1827, illegitimate homonym not Bertol. 1819
  • Allium margaritaceum var. bulbiferum Batt. & Trab.
  • Allium nitens Sauzé & Maill.
  • Allium purshii G.Don
  • Allium rilaense Panov
  • Allium rotundum Wimm. & Grab. 1824, illegitimate homonym not L. 1762
  • Allium sphaerocephalum Crome ex Schltdl. 1824, illegitimate homonym not L. 1753
  • Allium subvineale Wendelbo
  • Allium vineale var. affine Regel
  • Allium vineale subsp. affine (Regel) K.Richt.
  • Allium vineale var. asperiflorum Regel
  • Allium vineale subsp. asperiflorum (Regel) K.Richt.
  • Allium vineale var. bulbiferum Syme
  • Allium vineale var. capsuliferum Syme
  • Allium vineale subsp. capsuliferum (Syme) K.Richt.
  • Allium vineale subsp. compactum (Thuill.) K.Richt.
  • Allium vineale var. compactum (Thuill.) Lej. & Courtois
  • Allium vineale var. descendens Nyman
  • Allium vineale var. kochii Lange
  • Allium vineale subsp. kochii (Lange) Nyman
  • Allium vineale var. multiflorum Baguet
  • Allium vineale var. nitens (Sauzé & Maill.) Nyman
  • Allium vineale var. purshii (G.Don) Regel
  • Getuonis vinealis (L.) Raf.
  • Porrum capitatum P.Renault
  • Porrum vineale (L.) Schur

Allium vineale (wild garlic, onion grass, crow garlic or stag's garlic) is a perennial, bulb-forming species of wild onion, native to Europe, northwestern Africa and the Middle East.[2] The species was introduced in Australia and North America, where it has become a noxious weed.[3][4][5][6][7]


All parts of the plant have a strong garlic odour. The underground bulb is 1–2 cm diameter, with a fibrous outer layer. The main stem grows to 30–120 cm tall, bearing 2–4 leaves and an apical inflorescence 2–5 cm diameter comprising a number of small bulbils and none to a few flowers, subtended by a basal bract. The leaves are slender hollow tubes, 15–60 cm long and 2–4 mm thick, waxy texture, with a groove along the side of the leaf facing the stem. The inflorescence is a tight umbel surrounded by a membranous bract in bud which withers when the flowers open. Each individual flower is stalked and has a pinkish-green perianth 2.5 to 4.5 mm (332 to 316 in) long. There are six tepals, six stamens and a pistil formed from three fused carpels. Mixed with the flowers are several yellowish-brown bulbils. The fruit is a capsule but the seeds seldom set and propagation usually takes place when the bulbils are knocked off and grow into new plants.[8][9] Plants with no flowers, only bulbils, are sometimes distinguished as the variety Allium vineale var. compactum, but this character is probably not taxonomically significant.[citation needed]

Uses and problems

Wild onions washed and ready to be diced up for a fried rice dish. They add a pleasant garlic-like flavor to meals.

The leaves, flowers, and bulbs of Allium vineale are edible.[10] While it has been suggested as a substitute for garlic, there is some difference of opinion as to whether there is an unpleasant aftertaste compared to that of common garlic (Allium sativum).[citation needed] It imparts a garlic-like flavour and odour on dairy and beef products when grazed by livestock. It is considered a pestilential invasive weed in the US, as grain products may become tainted with a garlic odour or flavour in the presence of aerial bulblets at the time of harvest.[11][12][13] Wild garlic is tolerant to herbicides, which cannot cling well to the vertical, smooth and waxy structure of its leaves.[14][15]

Allium vineale 'Hair', a cultivated variety, is sold as an ornamental plant in the UK and USA. It has unusual flowerheads which have purple centres and green hair-like extensions.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ The Plant List
  2. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). "Allium vineale". Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  4. ^ "Allium vineale". County-level distribution map from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014.
  5. ^ "Allium vineale". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.
  6. ^ Weeds Australia, Australian Weeds Committee, Allium vineale Archived 2014-03-15 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Brewster, J. L. (2008). Onions and Other Alliums. (Wallingford: CABI Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84593-399-9.
  8. ^ "Wild garlic: Allium vineale". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  9. ^ Davies, D. (1992). Alliums: The Ornamental Onions. (Portland: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-241-2.
  10. ^ "Allium vineale". North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Retrieved May 4, 2023. The leaves, flowers, and bulbs are edible and can be used similarly to chives, although they tend to be a bit tougher.
  11. ^ Eric Block, "Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science" (Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010)
  12. ^ James L. Brewster, "Onions and Other Alliums" (Wallingford: CABI Publishing, 2008)
  13. ^ Dilys Davies, "Alliums: The Ornamental Onions" (Portland: Timber Press, 1992)
  14. ^ Wild Garlic & Wild Onion. Clemson University. Retrieved May 12, 2013
  15. ^ Block, E. (2010). Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. (Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 978-0-85404-190-9.
  16. ^ "16 of the Prettiest Allium Varieties to Plant in Your Garden". Better Homes & Gardens. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  17. ^ "Buy Allium Hair Bulbs | J Parker Dutch Bulbs". Retrieved 24 June 2021.