Plant ID help needed

billy_kain(8)April 14, 2008


For years, I have not passed by an old abandoned home place without looking for plants. In north central Texas, one of the most common is what I have been calling garlic. I am now convinced that it is not garlic, but I have no idea what it is.

I thought it might be elephant garlic. Bought and planted a clove last year (from the food store), but it did not do well, so I can't compare the two.

Here are some traits that I am sure about:

Crushed leaves smell like garlic.

Flowers look much like onion blooms, but make few (if any) seeds.

The leaves are of a greyish-green color.

When dug in the fall, the bulb has about a half dozen 'cloves' around the base.

It must have been very common in the old days, because the only plant found with greater frequency around old homesteads in this area, is the iris germanica.

Is there any way to positively identify this? I don't want to poison myself. If it is edible or useful, I will keep it. If not, I will throw it out.

Please don't suggest I feed some to the dog and see if he lives. I can't force it down him.

I am linking to a PhotoBucket site where there are three pictures of this plant.

Thanks for any help,


Here is a link that might be useful: PhotoBucket pictures

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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Those pictures sure make it look like something close to a leek and if it smells like garlic it's probably some strain of elephant garlic. The only easy way I know of to positively identify it would be to take one to the county extension service and have them identify it. Another way would be to take a tissue sample and send it to a lab but that's not the easiest and I believe it's expensive.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:21PM
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Thank you for the suggestion. I had not thought of taking it to the county extension service. I will do that.

Keep in mind that until a couple of years ago, I didn't know there were different kinds of garlic. I know that elephant garlic is really a leek, but there are different strains of it as well?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:26PM
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TJG911(z5b CT)

they look like ramps a wild garlic that is mostly green leaves. i cut and eat the leaves i don't pull out the bulb as i let them remain for next year.

google ramps.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:07PM
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Hi Tom,

I have heard of ramps, but do not believe that is what my plant is. My 'garlic' forms about a half dozen cloves at the base, and also, I think ramps grows wild. I have never seen this plant except in an area where people live, so I believe people have moved it around.

I carried a plant to my extension agent. He identified it as some kind of leek, but would not say if it was edible or not. Actually, he did not seem too interested.

I have emailed a horticulturist at Texas A&M, but so far, I have heard nothing back.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 8:20PM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

That looks just like elephant garlic
and your descrption fits.
Elephant grows easily in zone 7 & 8 and comes back every year even after you harvest because the little corms on the roots (shown in one of your pictures) come off in the soil snd produce "Babies" We have elepant garlic coming up every where around our farm after growing it for 13 years .
It is a leek . I bet your flowers are light lavender. it can be dug or left in the ground for a better head the next year (unlike regular garlic)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:22PM
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Hi Garliclady,

Thank you for the input. If I do not hear back from the horticulturist I emailed, I will post a picture of it's flower when it blooms. I do not remember them being light lavender, but that may be because I did not pay attention.

I admit that I know little about garlic. As I understand it, there are different strains of it. Since it does not make seed, this is hard to understand. Are there different strains of Elephant garlic as well?

Common sense tells me to dig it up and throw it out since I am unsure if it is edible. I have had it for years though, and have kind of gotten interested in finally identifying it.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 8:25AM
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