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Also known as wild garlic, this plant carpets the ground in areas of woodland across the UK giving off a distinctive odour of garlic.
Common name(s): ramsons, wild garlic, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek, bear's garlic
Scientific name: Allium ursinum
Leaves: long, pointed and oval in shape with untoothed margins. Leaves grow from the plant base, from the bulb of the plant itself. Leaves have a garlic scent.
Flowers: white in colour. Six petals make up a flower, with around 25 of these forming the rounded shaped flower cluster. Flowers are on leafless stalks.
Fruit: a capsule which has black seeds inside.
Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis): when in flower this plant can be distinguished from ramsons as it has bell-shaped white flowers in a one-sided spike. The leaves may be confused however the leaves of ramsons grow from the plant base whereas lily-of-the-valley has two leaves, or sometimes three, on one stem. Lily-of-the-valley is poisonous.
Where: Located across the UK this plant favours deciduous woodland, usually on calcareous (chalky) soil. It can also be found in scrub and hedgerows but prefers damp areas.
When: a perennial, it flowers from April to June.
As a plant which flowers relatively early it is utilised by various insects and bees which will pollinate the plant. The bulbs may be eaten by species such as wild boar.
Medicine: the bulb of the plant was used to create tonics to relieve rheumatic problems and lower cholesterol.
Ancient woodland indicator: this species can be used to aid identification of ancient woodland sites.
Folklore: the second half of this plant’s Latin name, ursinum, refers to the fact that brown bears would eat the bulbs.
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