Wild Garlic (Allium vineale)
Travis Legleiter, Weed Science Professional Assistant, Botany & Plant Pathology, Purdue University
Many no-till corn and soybean fields will have a cover of green winter annual weeds throughout the winter and late fall. Among these green weeds is wild garlic that is unique in a multitude of ways including the fact that it is not an annual.
This perennial weed comes up from underground bulbs in the late fall and/or early spring. The leaves wild garlic are basal, will be round in cross section, and are hollow. All of the plant structures emit a garlic odor when disturbed, hence the name “wild garlic”.
The most unique part of wild garlic is the use of bulb structures, rather than seeds, for spread and reproduction. The papery underground bulbs that the plants emerge from are easily divided and spread with soil disturbance such as tillage. Wild garlic also produces a reproductive stalk in the late spring with a bulb like structure at the top the opens to reveal a cluster of aerial bulblets that further distribute new plants. The aerial bulblets are a nuisance especially in wheat where they can contaminate the wheat grain at harvest and taint the grain with a garlic taste and smell.
Control strategies for wild garlic can be found in the Ohio and Indiana Weed Control Guide (pdf file) in the problem weeds section.
Click image to enlarge
Fig 1. The hollow round basal leaves of Wild Garlic that emerge from underground bulbs in late fall and early spring.
Fig 2. The Exposed aerial bulblets at the top of the wild garlic reproductive stem in late spring.
Fig 3. Aerial bulblets emerging from the cap of a reproductive stem of wild garlic.
Fig 4. The Exposed aerial bulblets at the top of the wild garlic reproductive stem in late spring.