Allium sativum L.


Allium sativum plant

Family - Liliaceae

Stems - Aerial stems to +1m tall, erect, simple, herbaceous, green ,glabrous, terete, mostly hollow. Bulb of many bulblets, with a papery coating and fibrous roots. Bulblets with at least one flat side.

Allium sativum bulbBulb just after being removed from the ground.

Allium sativum bulbBulb after removing the papery coating.

Leaves - Leaves present in the lower 1/3 to 1/2 of the plant. Leaves flat or very slightly folded, to +/-30cm long, 7-10mm broad, glabrous, often glaucous, with a prominent midrib, sheathing. The ligule rounded ("U"-shaped), the free portion 1-2mm tall (long).

Allium sativum leaf baseLeaf base.

Inflorescence - Dense capitate cluster of bulblets terminating the stem. Inflorescence covered in a papery spathe. Spathe with a long apiculate tip, splitting on one side at anthesis.

Allium sativum inflorescence

Flowers - Flowers mostly or entirely replaced by bulblets. Bulblets glabrous, whitish or (more commonly) with a reddish tinge. If produced, the small flowers are greenish, whitish, or pinkish and tubular with acute lobes.

Allium sativum bulbletsBulblets close-up.

Flowering - May - July.

Habitat - Waste ground, roadsides, railroads, fields, meadows, thickets, grassy areas.

Origin - Native to Eurasia.

Other info. - This tasty species is the common "Garlic" of culinary fame. It can be found scattered throughout Missouri.
A. sativum is renowned for its medical benefits as well as its flavor. It has been used by many cultures to treat nearly every ailment known to man. More recently, Garlic has been shown to have promising anti-cancer properties. There are many more websites dedicated to the medicinal benefits of Garlic if you would like to learn more.
Allicin is the sulfur compound responsible for the characteristic smell of Garlic as well as some of its medicinal benefits.
Garlic is easy to grow in our area and wild plants can become very weedy if left unchecked.

Photographs taken somewhere in eastern Kansas, 7-4-03.