Field garlic (Allium oleraceum) is a bulbous perennial that grows wild in dry places in northern Europe, reaching 80cm in height. It reproduces by seed, bulbs and by the production of small bulblets in the flower head (similarly to Allium vineale). Unlike A. vineale however, it is very rare with Field garlic to find flower-heads containing bulbils only. In addition, the spathe in Field garlic is in two parts.
Field garlic is native to temperate Eurasia. A. oleraceum is native to Britain and is found in dry, grassy places, usually steeply sloping and calcareous soils, and on open sunny banks in river floodplains. It favours altitudes of 0-365m. A. oleraceum is scattered throughout England and very scattered in Wales, Scotland and Ireland (Stace, 1997). Erosion of coastal areas leads to a reduction in the available habitat for this species, leading to population declines.
This plant prefers partial or full exposure to sunlight. Field Garlic tends to grow in slightly moist, heavy clay-like soil, although it will grow just fine in other soils. This plant spreads quickly, much like a weed, and can be difficult to get rid of.
- The Reader's Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain p.382.
- UK Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GRFA).