Wild Garlic – caveat emptor!

Allium ursinum

This morning I spent 3 hours at my friend Mrs Wilson’s garden trying to dig out a bed which was infested with wild garlic, Allium ursinum. This plant is a beguiling and beautiful creature when seen wending its way through woodlands and along roadside banks, it has also become madly fashionable with the craze for food foraging as it makes a very nice addition to soups and salads and has edible flowers. However a word of warning, if you have a small garden and do not own acres of wild woodland, do not, under any circumstances be tempted to introduce it into your patch. Allium ursinum is a thug of the highest degree and will spread like the clappers once it has taken root. It seeds prolifically, each little grass-like seedling is attached to a little bulbule and these are practically impossible to eradicate once established. Today I cleared a patch approx 2m x 3m, laboriously teasing the leaves and flower heads from underneath plants and stones and between rocks – when you pull the plant the leaves come away in your hand leaving the bulb behind, when you try to dig underneath the bulb it just seems to make the problem worse, spreading bulbules around even further. Clearing is a Pyrrhic victory as as sure as eggs is eggs, next year the infestation will be just as bad. My only advice is do remove all stalks and flower heads, this will weaken the bulbs and stop the things seeding and pull out any seedlings. Never, ever add to a compost heap – either burn or bag and bin.

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