A perennial herb with a bulb divided into segments (cloves), basal linear leaves and an erect stem terminated by an umbel with numerous small bulbils between the purplish-white flowers. The flower cluster is enclosed by a sheath (spathe) of papery bracts. The fruit is a capsule with black seeds, but the seeds do not ripen in cultivated plants.
The bulb is used medicinally, either fresh, dried or otherwise processed. It contains essential oils and the sulphuric compound alliim, which breaks down
When the cell tissue is disrupted by cutting - into the pungent allicin and diallyldisulphides. Iodine is another important constituent. Garlic has a wide variety of uses and is a common herbal remedy. Like Onion it is an important antiseptic; it also has hypotensive, weak anthelmintic, choleretic and expectorant properties It is used to treat intestinal infections, hypertension and arteriosclerosis, and it aids digestion by stimulating bile secretions. Externally Garlic can be applied to insect bites, boils and unbroken chilblains, but it may cause an allergic rash if used for too long. It should be used sparingly in cooking. Chewing a leaf of basil (Ocimum), mint (Mentha), parsley (Petroselinum) or thyme (Thym us) helps to cleanse the breath after eating Garlic.
Originally from India or Central Asia, Garlic has long been cultivated as an important vegetable, seasoning and medicinal herb. The Romans probably introduced it into Britain. It is cultivated commercially only on a very small scale in Britain; most supplies are imported. Breeding and selection have yielded countless varieties, which are propagated vegetatively by planting the cloves in rows in prepared soil. Garlic's name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word garleac, from gar (= a spear) and leac (= a leek), supposedly meaning a leek with cloves like spearheads'.
Flowering time: July to September