The Invasive Species Cook Book – Wild Garlic

Allium ursinum, known as wild garlic, ramsons, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear's garlic, is a bulbous perennial flowering plant in the lily family Amaryllidaceae. It is a wild relative of onion, native to Europe and Asia, where it grows in moist woodland. Wild garlic appears in mid to late winter, flowers in spring and then completely dies down by the middle of summer.

Wild Garlic isn’t necessarily an invasive plant species however where it grows it will form a dense carpet of growth. The plant in the wrong place can be extremely invasive, for example in gardens, as they reproduce themselves prolifically from underground bulbs and also from seeds that are set from their blossoms. Unlike many other weeds that can be controlled by chopping, pulling or spraying, wild garlic remains unaffected. Mowing the foliage or pulling it from the garden will not affect the bulbs beneath the soil, and within just a few days the bulbs will simply send up new leaves. The plant has thin leaves that easily shed herbicides, and the waxy coating helps prevent absorption of the herbicide.

Its invasive nature makes the plant suitable for our Invasive species cookbook! Wild Garlic has an edible bulb, with a strong taste of garlic. The leaves can also be eaten but have a milder garlic taste, and the flowers, which have a stronger flavour, make an interesting addition to salads. At this time of the year the leaves can be easily foraged in most woodlands. Here are a few of our favourites.

Caution - wild garlic leaved are similar to lily of the valley, which is poisonous. However, when picked wild garlic smells of garlic. If you are unsure do not eat it!

Wild Garlic Pesto


2 handfuls of wild garlic leaves, washed and roughly chopped

1 handful of parsley, washed and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves or two wild garlic bulbs

50g pine nuts

Grated Parmesan to taste (approx. 50g)

Extra virgin olive oil (approx. 150ml)

Lemon juice from ½ lemon

Season to taste


Place the ingredients into a food processor and blitz slowly pouring in the olive oil. Add more oil if you wish to have a thinner texture and mix. Season to taste.


Wild Garlic Salsa Verde


1 clove of garlic chopped or wild garlic bulb

1 tsp of capers chopped

2-3 anchovy fillets chopped (optional)

1 handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped

1 handful of parsley, washed and chopped

Lemon juice from ½ lemon

6 tbs of olive oil


Place the garlic, capers, anchovies, parsley and wild garlic in a food processor and pulse to give a rough texture but do not blend to a paste. Or chop by hand to small bits.

Place the mixture in a bowl and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste. Add more oil if you wish to have a thinner texture and mix.

Wild Garlic Mayo

This mayo is really easy to make using a stick blender and old jam jar!


1 handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped

1 free range egg

1tsp of dijon mustard

Lemon juice from ½ lemon

Grapeseed oil 150ml

Salt and pepper to taste


Place all the ingredients at the bottom of an old jam jar and place the stick blender over the egg. Turn on the blender and slowly pull up through the mixture until it is all incorporated. Place in a bowl and season to taste.

Stewart Parsons