Garlic Basics – Allium sativum

Garlic Basics

Allium sativum

garlic medicinal herb

The papery sheath material that surrounds the clove can be seen here.

Garlic is a medicinal and culinary herb that many people and cultures love to eat and use medicinally! In medieval times, garlic was actually eaten as a vegetable. It has been used for thousands of years as a powerful medicinal herb.

Description: Garlic, being an Allium, is in the onion family. Garlic has a compound bulb with usually between 4 and 15 cloves. Each clove is encased by a papery sheath. The cloves are all held together by additional layers of this papery sheath material creating what is known as the garlic bulb. The color of the papery sheath ranges from white to tan to pink and purple.

garlic medicinal herb growing and using herbs

Garlic Flowers

Garlic grows to approximately two feet tall. The white to pink flowers of the garlic are very small. Garlic is sterile and rarely produces seeds.

Flowering: Garlic flowers in the spring and summer.

Range: Since garlic can now be found growing world-wide, its origin is uncertain. It is believed to have possibly originated in southern Siberia.

garlic medicinal herb growing and using herbs

The papery sheath covering the cloves ranges from white to purple.

Growing Conditions: Garlic prefers a slightly acidic soil pH of 4.5-8.3. It grows well in deep, rich, moist and well-drained soil.  It will tolerate full sun to partial shade. It is ready to harvest when its stalks tip over at ground level.

How it is used/taken: Garlic is eaten both raw and cooked. It is also taken in capsule form. Garlic oil can be made for medicinal and culinary purposes.

Interesting fact: The Order of the Stinking Rose is reported as being a national garlic lovers club in the United States by Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Herbs. A Google search did not locate this organization, but did find several restaurant’s bearing the name, The Stinking Rose.

Resources: Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, editors Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton; Smart Choices in Alternative Medicine, with Medical Reviewer Samuel Benjamin, M.D.

Photo credits: All photos were obtained from the MorgueFile.

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