GARLIC : Allium ursinum
Love it and believe in adding it to almost any food orr consider it a blemish on an otherwise fine taste, garlic is an integral part of the culinary scene.
Wild garlic abounds in such places as Fishers Wood on the upper Leven and the entrance to Kipperoch Road off Renton Road where it enjoys the moist shady areas.
It is a medium-sized bulbous perennial with a distinctive and pungent obviously garlicky smell that pervades woodland in spring. Its leaves are long and pointed and slightly oval. They plants disappear completely below the earth's surface in winter, but begin to reappear again in early spring, say late March / early April.
The flowers appear later; small and white with six petals on a thin stalk. There can be up to 25 flowers in clusters.
The Woodland Trust suggests that as wild garlic is an ancient-woodland-indicator plant, if you spot it, it could be a sign you're standing in a rare and special habitat. However it is quite at home too at such places as along the tow path towards Balloch.
Wild garlic is native to Europe and Asia, where it grows in moist woodland. It is a wild relative of onion and farmed garlic, all belonging to the same genus, Allium, a name which you may recognise from your own garden.
Wild garlic grows in profusion in a few localities in West Dunbartonshire. In its natural setting it is a valuable asset to the wild ambience. If grown in a garden though they can become a problem and an unwanted weed. This scenario means that you are welcome to forage for wild garlic and take it home to your kitchen. In terms of its value within our wild florar, you may not remove it in bulk. So enjoy it and look for a few recipes through the links below. As CountryFile notes : As wild garlic grows in abundance it is generally acceptable to pick a small amount, however our guide below explains how to pick wild garlic without causing any detrimental impact to the natural environment. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and can be blended to make a delicious pesto to add to pasta, salads or soups.
Wikipedia suggest that its other Latin name ursinum translates to 'bear' and refers to the supposed fondness of the brown bear for the bulbs; folk tales describe the bears consuming them after awakening from hibernation. No bears around here!
Garlic is deeply imbedded in superstition and folklore across Europe. As Scotland has its own wide range of superstitions and folklore it is a little surprising not to find a specifically Scottish one involving garlic. Perhaps it is even more surprising as such tales refer to St Andrew's Day, an anniversary that we share with several countries. In Romania, for instance, it is a time for magic and rituals to ward off evil spirits and purify the land and the people. The secret weapon is garlic, eaten on the night before St Andrew's Day at a communal meal either as whole cloves or in a sauce. Cloves of garlic are placed strategically beside doors, windows and chimneys.
The first garlic begins to spread a rich green carpet under the trees of Fishers Wood near the Leven. This photo was taken in mid April.
The white flowers start to appear in late April.
By May they are growing in profusion.
The amazing scene in the woods leading up to Kipperoch in May. There is limited parking. Keep space for passing vehicles including tractors.
The road divides at this point. That to the right goes up to the Kipperoch cottages and farm. That to the left enters farmland with a footpath eventually reaching Castlehill. Whiteleys Burn runs alongside the road at the outset.
The Vale of Leven's secret Garlic Trail.
Ana=Maria BOGDAN website : https://ambogdan.com/garlic-magic-vampires/
COUNTRYFILE website including recipes : https://www.countryfile.com/how-to/food-recipes/wild-garlic-guide-where-to-find-how-to-cook-it-and-recipe-ideas/
SCOTLAND.ORG website : https://www.scotland.org/inspiration/st-andrews-day-tales-and-traditions#Romania
WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_ursinum