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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.

 

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