The wild garlic season is here, but do not confuse it with the lily of the valley

Do you love wild garlic? Of course you do! The taste is simply unique! Unfortunately, you can enjoy it fresh for only about 2 months in a year and the time is now. You do not need to go to the forest and search everywhere. You can grow wild or bear’s garlic in your garden too. All you need is a suitable and rather shady spot. But if you want to go “hunting” for leaves in the forest well, you can do that too, but make sure you know wild garlic well. Someone people might mistake it for a lily of the valley. So, how can you be sure that you are getting the real wild garlic?

Lily of the valley is similar in appearance

Yes, that is true, but wild garlic is different – you just need to “see” the entire plant. A lily of the valley cannot reach a height of 40 cm for example, but wild garlic can. The environment where both plants live is also very similar. This includes alluvial and moist forests. Both lilies of the valley and wild garlic need moisture and shade. They are also arum-like plants and many of them are poisonous. You can mistake wild garlic for lily of the valley if you compare sprouting leaves. They are very similar – almost identical.

Beware of various myths

You can find plenty of advice on the Internet about anything these days, but these advices are mostly misleading. Let us take the aroma of both plants for example. Bear garlic is said to have a very strong aroma…well not really and no one will be smelling every leaf and compare them, right? Another “fact” says that both plants grow exclusively in the shade, and wild garlic cannot survive in the sun. Yes, it can. If the sun is not strong and does not shine on it all day long, then wild garlic will grow happily.

Typical features of each plant

Let us take a look at three signs where the plants differ.


Smell seems to be the most important feature. Wild garlic is typical for its smell but most importantly the entire plant smells wonderful, but if you smell lily of the valley – only the flower itself has the nice aroma.

Leaf growth

Leaves represent a strong feature. Leaves of lily of the valley practically always grow in pairs. You won’t find a single leaf but the leaves of wild garlic grow directly from the ground and separately.

Wild garlic
Photo: Pixabay

Wild garlic
Photo: Pixabay

Flower shape

If the given plant is blooming you have another option to tell them apart. While the lily of the valley has the typical bell-shaped flowers, the flowers of wild garlic are round.

Wild garlicPhoto: Pixabay

Wild garlicPhoto: Pixabay

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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