En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Monday - August 08, 2011

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: General Botany, Edible Plants
Title: A garlic plant with only one clove in Ft. Worth, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Is there a garlic that does not have cloves? I have been using what appears to be garlic from my garden and it is garlicy, hot and delicious. I have spent many hours online but cannot find this garlic that looks like an onion. The previous owner told me she planted garlic, pearl and wild onions, but this has no cloves rather looks exactly like an onion with the outside ridges but the inside has no layers and is of garlic texture. It is the color of garlic and emits what appears to be garlic oil. The top of the plant is not the flowery tops of most of the garlic pictures I have found. It has long grass like leaves that curl. I live in Fort Worth Texas if that helps. Thank you in advance for your response.

ANSWER:

"If it looks like garlic, tastes like garlic, and smells like garlic, it may well be garlic". Mr. Smarty Plants

Generally in botanical circles garlic is known as  Allium sativum, and is in the same plant family as the onion, the botanical of which is Allium cepa. Garlic is not native to the US, but is widely grown across the country. It is popularly used as a culinary herb, a medicinal plant, and a vampire repellent, so there is a lot of information on the web about garlic.

There are two differences between the garlic plant and the onion plant that are fairly obvious. The first is the the structure of the leaves. Onions have leaves that are hollow cylinders, and this gives rise to ring-like structure you see when you cut an onion bulb in two. The bulb is made of fleshy leaves that surround a very short stem. The leaf of the garlic is a flat blade that resembles grass as you observed. That makes the internal structure of the bulb entirely different, and is why you can have onion rings, but not garlic rings.

The other difference is that the garlic bulb divides into cloves (the number can vary among the different kinds of garlic). Each of the cloves is a branch of the garlic shoot, and has the form of a bulb with a short compact stem that bears a cluster of fleshy leaves. This link has pictures that help with the explanation.

So what are you eating?  In the reading that I have done, I found there is Green Garlic. This is a garlic plant that is picked and used before it has matured enough to produce cloves, so you have only the bulb.

 

More General Botany Questions

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of Haskell, TX
February 17, 2008 - What region are we in --- Haskell, Tx. (Between Abilene and Wichita Falls)
view the full question and answer

Define monoculture from St. Croix Falls, WI
May 30, 2014 - What do you call a dense stand or carpet of one species of wildflower? Our botany professor told us but that was 40 years ago!
view the full question and answer

Help with Science Fair project from Danbury CT
January 12, 2012 - Hello Mr Smarty, I was going to do my science project on weevils and their impact on milfoil. The weevils are in hibernation until spring and my project is due in mid-Feb. Any suggestions on a simil...
view the full question and answer

Alleotrophic effects of caffeine found in Ilex species
January 24, 2007 - I'm doing research for my biology class on the alleotrophic effects of caffeine. I'm planning to use Ilex vomitoria as the caffeine-producing plant. As the control I want to use another non-c...
view the full question and answer

How is native range changed in the scientific record?
March 28, 2011 - I am accessioning Pachysandra procumbens for the Baker Arboretum. These plants were made from cuttings of a native stand here in Warren County (Western KY). How does the record get amended to...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center