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Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) is known as a witch bulb or wild leek and grows mainly in humid, shady locations with humus rich soil. The plant, a lily plant, has lanceolate, elongated, soft leaves that are similar to those of the lily of the valley and other poisonous plants. The big difference, however, which makes it difficult to mix it up, is the garlic-like smell, which is mainly caused by the leaves being rubbed. Wild garlic leaves are harvested from April to May / June. Garlic is very similar to wild garlic, but it is believed that the latter has a greater healing effect and also produces less evaporation.
Not suitable for pets
Although we humans taste and enjoy wild garlic, it is not for pets. Bear's garlic, like all Allium species, is not suitable for dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc., because the sulfur compound it contains can cause what is known as hemolysis in the blood, in which the erythrocytes (red blood cells) are destroyed.
The wild garlic has a high content of essential, sulfur-containing oil, on which the stimulating, cleaning and detoxifying effect is based. Other ingredients are mustard oil glycosides, flavonoids, vitamin C, iron, manganese and vitamin B6.
Attention: risk of confusion!
Be careful when collecting the wild garlic leaves. These resemble not only the leaves of the lily of the valley and the autumn timeless ones, but also those of the arum and the white root. As already mentioned, the wild garlic exudes a garlic-like smell. If a few wild garlic leaves have been collected and the fingers already smell of garlic, the distinction is no longer so easy.
Differences to lily of the valley, autumn timeless, arum and white root
Wild garlic leaves sprout from the ground. In between, however, there can unfortunately be leaves of other plants that are very similar but are not intended for consumption. Great caution is required here. In order not to pick "wrong" wild garlic leaves, it is necessary to know the important differences.
Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
The main difference between wild garlic and lily of the valley is that the leaves of the wild garlic grow individually, in pairs in the lily of the valley, in the same style. The lily of the valley sprout a little later than the wild garlic, but the main growing season is almost identical. Lily of the valley prefer the same locations. Convallaria majalis is a poisonous plant. Symptoms of intoxication include cardiac arrhythmia, increased blood pressure, skin and eye irritation, racing pulse to> hypotension (low blood pressure), diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, collapse and cardiac arrest. The lily of the valley is one of the medicinal plants in the treatment of heart diseases. Convallaria requires a prescription or is used by a naturopath as a homeopathically potentized remedy.
Fall Timeless (Colchicum autumnale)
The Herbstzeitlose grows in the same places as the wild garlic. The leaf shapes are similar. The most important difference, however, is that the leaves of the autumn timeless grow and embrace several on a stem. This plant is highly toxic. An amount of 0.8 mg / kg body weight can lead to death in an adult. Symptoms of poisoning include irregular heartbeat and nausea. When used correctly, the Herbstzeitlose is a medicinal plant that is used for gout. It is prescribed in the smallest quantities by a doctor or administered homeopathically from potency D4 in naturopathy.
Arum (Arum makulatum)
The arum, an old witch and magic plant, used to be used in folk medicine in the past, but was only diluted to a great extent due to its toxicity. Young leaves of the arum are similar to those of wild garlic. However, the leaf nerves differ from each other. Those of the arum are irregular, those of the wild garlic are arranged in parallel. Later it is easy to distinguish, the leaves have the typical arrow-like shape and are darker and firmer than that of wild garlic.
If this poisonous plant is eaten, this is noticed immediately: the leaves burn the oral mucosa. Nature actually offers nothing sharper than the Arum. Just one leaf can spoil the taste of a whole bowl of wild garlic.
Many-flowered turmeric (Polygonatum multiflorum)
When collecting wild garlic leaves, white root can also be picked by mistake. The leaves are somewhat similar, but here too there is a serious difference that they grow in pairs on the stem and not individually as with wild garlic. Turmeric, also known as the Solomon Seal, was previously used in folk medicine for diabetes, rheumatism, gout and heart failure. Nowadays, the non-toxic root of the salmon seal is used in naturopathy for the treatment of hypertension, cough, bronchitis, for heart strengthening and as a tonic in old age. Its leaves are slightly toxic.
Spectrum of activity
Wild garlic was "modern" in its early years. In the eighth century, Emperor Karl ordered that wild garlic be planted in all gardens. The leek family was also known in ancient Rome and was used at the time for stomach problems and for blood purification. Wild garlic, with the Latin name Alllium ursinum, has again become a very modern remedy. It helps with chronic skin rashes and lichen with its blood-cleaning effect. Due to the high content of mustard oil glycosides, it stimulates the digestive juices. Wild garlic has a bactericidal effect on the intestinal flora, whereby the "good and useful" intestinal bacteria remain undamaged. Therefore, this is a wonderful plant to rebuild an unbalanced intestinal flora. When traveling to distant countries, wild garlic can strengthen the immune system in the intestine. After antibiotic therapy, he supports intestinal rehabilitation. Like garlic, wild garlic counteracts arterial calcification and helps with high blood pressure. It binds toxins and thus purifies the blood. That is why wild garlic belongs in every spring cure. It is best to take a handful of fresh wild garlic leaves in lettuce, quark or as a spice every day for four to six weeks.
Processing in the kitchen
In spring, wild garlic is a must in every kitchen. Not only because this leek family is so healthy, but also because it is very tasty. In principle, everything can be eaten from wild garlic. The tuber corresponds to the spring onion, the buds and flowers serve as a salad decoration and the stems can be finely chopped, steamed or fried. However, wild garlic leaves are used most often. Their mildly spicy aroma is suitable for a wide variety of dishes. The leaves are quite delicate and wilt quickly, so processing on the same day is recommended. If this is not possible, he keeps the stems wrapped with a damp cloth and then packed in a freezer bag for up to two days in the refrigerator.
Wild garlic is first rinsed off with water that is not too hot to free it of impurities. He doesn't like processing at high temperatures. Since the ingredients in the air change very quickly, the wild garlic should only be cut shortly before processing. Bear's garlic is now often found in pesto preparations. Sauces, dips, curd cheese and spreads are also refined. It is also tasty to season soups, such as potato or vegetable soups, with the healthy leek family. Wild garlic lovers prefer the wild garlic salad. For this, the leaves are washed, possibly chopped and served with any salad dressing. The leaves can also add a very special touch to a mixed salad.
Wild garlic - not just in spring
To enjoy wild garlic not only in spring but all year round, freezing is a good option. The aroma is reduced somewhat, but better than having to wait until next spring. Wild garlic is first thoroughly checked for "wrong" components, like the plants mentioned, which are so similar to it, washed and patted dry with a kitchen towel. Then the leaves are placed on a board or a flat tray and placed in the freezer. When the freezing process is complete, the whole is poured into bags.
Recipe for a wild garlic pesto
Another way to process wild garlic is to make pesto. For a delicious wild garlic pesto, 250 g wild garlic, 40 g parmesan, 40 g pine nuts or cashew nuts, 1/8 l olive oil, salt and pepper are required. The wild garlic is washed, dabbed with a kitchen towel and then finely grated in the food processor together with the other ingredients. If you own a mortar, you can also use it. The pesto is then filled into freshly washed, hot rinsed screw-top jars. It is important that some oil covers the surface of the pesto. The glasses can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months.
To sum up, caution is required when collecting wild garlic. The leaves must be carefully examined before consumption in order to avoid confusion with the plants mentioned above. If you are not sure, it is best to buy the wild garlic fresh at the weekly market, as a pesto or ready-made spice paste. For naturopathic therapy, wild garlic is available in the form of capsules, as a mother tincture, tincture and also homeopathic. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Austria's public health portal: Bärlauch (accessed: 16.09.2019), gesundheit.gv.at
- Danuta Sobolewska, Irma Podolak. Justyna Makowska-Wąs: Allium ursinum: botanical, phytochemical and pharmacological overview, Phytochemistry Reviews, 2015, Volume 14, Issue 1, link.springer.com
- Plants For A Future: Allium ursinum - L. (accessed: 16.09.2019), pfaf.org