Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Wild Garlic: Allium vineale

Weed Description:  A perennial from bulblets that emits a strong garlic or onion smell when crushed.  Primarily a weed of small grains, turfgrass and pastures.  Wild garlic imparts a garlic-like flavor and odor on dairy and beef products when grazed.  Additionally, small grains may become tainted with a garlic-like odor and/or flavor due to the presence of aerial bulblets at the time of harvest.  Wild garlic is found throughout the eastern and central United States.
Seedlings:  Resemble those of a grass, but have hollow, round leaves.

Leaves:  Leaves are round, hollow, arising from a bulb, 6-24 inches long, 2-10 mm wide.  All leaves have a garlic-like or onion scent.

Stems:  Flowering stems are the only stems that occur.  These are slender, solid, waxy, unbranched, and 1-3 feet tall.
Flowers:  Flowers are produced at the top of the flowering stems.  Flowers are greenish-white, small, and on short stems above the globe of aerial bulblets.  Aerial bulblets are ovoid, often wholly or partially replace the flowers, and are usually tipped by a long, fragile slender green leaf.

Fruit:  The fruit is an egg-shaped 3-parted capsule.

Roots:  Round to egg-shaped bulbs with a papery outer covering.  Smaller bulblets may form at the base of the bulbs, and fibrous roots are also attached at the bases of the bulbs.
Identifying Characteristics:  Round hollow leaves and garlic-like odor.  Wild garlic is often confused with wild onion (Allium canadense), but the two may be easily distinguished after a closer examination of the leaf cross section.  The leaves of wild garlic are hollow and round, while those of wild onion are more flat and 'solid'.  Wild garlic is also similar to Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), however this weed lacks the garlic-like odor of wild garlic and also has distinctive white midveins that run the length of the leaf when mature.  Starch Grapehyacinth (Muscari racemosum) is also similar in appearance and growth habit, but lacks the garlic-like odor as well.