Wild garlic, also called forest garlic, is one of the most popular spring herbs and wild vegetables. That’s why at this time you can see hobby cooks roaming the woods in search of the wild delicacy. Since wild garlic tastes best fresh, you should only harvest as much as can be processed quickly. But when can the plant be harvested at all and is it still edible when it is in bloom? We have summarized for you where you can find wild deposits and what you need to consider when collecting.


Wild garlic grows preferentially in shady places, which is why the largest occurrences are found in the deciduous forests of Germany and Central Europe. In the foothills of the Alps in alpine locations, it is found more frequently than in northern Germany. Wild garlic thrives best on lime-rich soils that can permanently store a certain amount of moisture.

  • in deciduous forests
  • on chalky, moist, fresh soils
  • preferably in alluvial forests
  • in sinks

Once the wild garlic has found a suitable location, it spreads very strongly on the forest floor. Over time, the plant can occupy entire depressions or clearings. Such occurrences are very easy to spot in April or May. Because during this time the white, star-shaped flowers of the wild garlic stick out between the fresh green leaves.

Harvest blooming wild garlic?

Again and again you can hear or read somewhere that wild garlic should no longer be edible from the time it blooms, and even poisonous. That is not entirely true, even if there are definitely reasons for it to be harvested before flowering.

Wild garlic poisonous or not

Not a single part of the wild garlic is considered poisonous, and that is completely independent of the season or the flowering of the plant. But there are big differences in quality, depending on when the leaves are harvested.

  • all parts of the plant edible
  • no matter what time of year
  • the leaves are preferred
  • The star-shaped wild garlic flowers are also edible
  • are used just like the leaves

Best harvest time

The best time to harvest wild garlic leaves is spring. Because the young leaves are particularly tender and have a pronounced garlic-like taste. If flowers form on the plant, the aromas in the foliage decrease and are more concentrated in the flower. The leaves become increasingly fibrous and bitter. Another reason against harvesting flowering plants is that the wild garlic has a very short vegetation phase. The leaves begin to yellow as early as two to three months after budding, as the higher temperatures in summer, the upper soil layers warm and dry out. However, the herb must have enough time before it dies to gather sufficient strength in the onion in order to sprout again vigorously in the next year.

  • Time: between the end of March and the beginning of May
  • also later theoretically possible (until about June)
  • Morning is the best time, when the leaves are the juiciest
  • Leaves appear from the beginning of March, depending on the weather and the region

Tip: The buds that have not yet opened can be used to make wild garlic capers by heating them and soaking them in vinegar. This allows you to preserve the typical aroma in the best possible way.

Risk of confusion with poisonous plants

If you want to harvest wild vegetables in the great outdoors, you should be very careful. Similar to mushroom picking, there is a risk of confusion with poisonous doppelgangers, especially since all these plants in the forest share the same location with the wild garlic. Grown as a crop in your own garden, there is little risk of accidentally catching a similar-looking, poisonous plant.

  • lily of the valley
  • Autumn crocus

Since even small amounts of these plants can be highly toxic or even deadly, wild garlic should never be collected over a large area or quickly and carelessly.

Clear identification

If you want to collect the wild garlic in the forest, the plant must be clearly identified. The best way to do this is to rub the leaves between your fingers. In this case, only real wild garlic exudes the characteristic smell of garlic. The flowers of the plant, which appear between April and May, are also unmistakable. The small white flowers are star-shaped and, like many leek-like plants, are arranged in a semicircle or circle at the tip of a long flower stalk.

  • always carry out an odor test
  • Wash or clean your hands every now and then
  • the smell adheres well to the skin
  • the leaves of wild garlic sprout from the ground on a single stem
  • lilies of the valley have two leaves growing out of a stem
  • in autumn crocus, several leaves arise from the petiole

To harvest

Do not tear the leaves during harvest, because in the damp, loose forest soil you can otherwise pull the fine onion of the plant out of the soil with this method, so that the whole plant will die. Cut a maximum of one or two leaves from each plant so that it can more easily regenerate.

  • Cut the leaves on the stem with a sharp knife or scissors
  • Lay the sheets on top of each other in layers
  • Place directly in a sealable plastic bag

This will protect the soft leaves from being crushed. In addition, they hold moisture better and the aroma is not lost. Do not place the harvested leaves or flowers in the blazing sun, but store them as dark and cool as possible. It has proven useful for transport to inflate and seal the plastic bag.

Tip: Wrapped in a damp cloth, wild garlic leaves can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Sustainability and nature conservation

Whole carpets of wild herbs grow in some areas, but attention should be paid to the protection of nature when collecting wild garlic. Therefore, if possible, cut off only one leaf per plant, at the very bottom of the stem. If the rest of the plant is left standing, it can develop well and also contribute to the fact that more amateur cooks can harvest the leaves in the next year. Please do not collect wild plants in nature reserves and only take as many leaves with you as you would like to eat in the next few days.

  • only harvest in large stocks of wild garlic
  • Let small deposits grow in peace
  • do not collect on streets
  • cut off only one leaf per plant
  • if possible, do not harvest any buds
  • if they do, then very few
  • Do not trample plants carelessly
  • harvest only small quantities for personal use

The fox tapeworm in wild garlic

The fox tapeworm is a parasite that is dangerous to humans and can be transmitted via the excrement of foxes. This is problematic with wild garlic because the herb is often processed in its raw form. There is a risk here that the tiny eggs of the tapeworm are also ingested. Although the transmission to humans has not yet been scientifically proven, experts nevertheless advise caution. It is important to follow a few important safety rules when harvesting wild specimens.

  • wash the leaves thoroughly under running water
  • the water should be hot
  • Rub vigorously over the surface

Another effective protection against these pathogens is to grow the wild garlic in your own garden. It’s not difficult at all and it likes to spread on its own without ever becoming invasive.

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