Crow Garlic

Allium vineale L.

Family: - Liliaceae.


Allium is Latin for garlic.

Vineale is from the Latin vinealis meaning of the vines because of its prevalence in European vineyards.

Crow garlic, because of its garlic like smell.

Other Names:

Field garlic

Wild garlic

Wild onion.


An erect, onion smelling, hollow leaved, perennial with clusters of bulbils on tops of stems and surrounding underground bulbs.





Emerge from the lower part of the stem.

Blade - Long and slender up to 500 mm long by 1.5-3 mm wide. Pointed tip. Hairless. Initially cylindrical and becoming channelled on inner side with age. Ribbed. Hollow. Blue green. Strong garlic smell.


Erect. 300-800 mm. Unbranched. Hairless. Almost filled with pith. Sheathed up to the middle.

Flower head:

At the end of a long stalk. A few flowers in an umbel and often replaced by a dense head of up to 300 bulbils. Initially enclosed in a papery sheath.


Greenish, pink or white on stalks longer than the perianth.

Perianth - 3-4 mm long (always less than 10 mm long). Spathe of one broad bract around 10-25 mm long which is abruptly contracted into a stiff green point.

Stamens - Broad, inner filaments 3 lobed and lobes may exceed the anthers. Slightly exceeding the perianth.


Only formed by a few plants. Black. Oval to tear shaped, 3-8 mm long by 1-2 mm wide, somewhat beaked. Flattened on one side. Tip pointed. Sides convex. Base flat. Surface smooth, shiny and ridged.


Up to 6 soft shelled and hard shelled underground bulbs formed in the leaf axils surrounding the old bulb at the base of the plant. The central bulb is 5-10 mm diameter and has a soft white shell, Up to 5 surrounding bulbs, 5-15 mm diameter ,have a hard, dark, fibrous shell.

The bulbs are surrounded by many bulbils.


5 mm diameter, smooth, brown and shiny. Some aerial bulbils may develop into twisted bract like structures.


Shallow fibrous roots extend to around 600 mm deep.

Key Characters:

Perianth less than 10 mm long. Leaves hollow and almost cylindrical. Many bulbils surrounding bulb. Filaments 3 lobed.


Life cycle:

Perennial. Seed and bulbils germinate from late summer to mid winter and form a bulb in spring without flowering. The top growth dies off in summer. The bulb germinates in autumn to winter but may not emerge until some time later in dry conditions. In good conditions they will produce flowering stems in spring with seed and aerial bulbils.

Hard shelled bulbs may remain dormant for 6 years.


Onion like odour due to allyl sulphide. The flavour in milk appears after only a few minutes grazing and takes at least 6 hours grazing to disappear.


Flowering times:


Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Hard, dark shelled bulbs are dormant for up to 6 years. Dormancy is higher in clays than sandy soils. All bulbs near the soil surface germinate and dormancy increases with depth.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Contaminated cereal grain is the main source of spread between regions. Local spread is in mud and water and as a contaminant of other agricultural produce.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean and Southern Europe.






Warm temperate. Cold tolerant.


Prefers heavy fertile loams, but grows on a wide range of soil types. Tolerant of waterlogged soils.

Plant Associations:



Culinary flavouring herb.


Weed of cereal crops, pastures, lawns and wastelands.

Onion like odour contaminates milk, meat and wheat.

Bulbils are a similar size to wheat making separation difficult.

Contaminated wheat can't be used for milling and contaminated barley can't be used for malting.


Contaminated grain used for stockfeed should be withdrawn form the diet 2 weeks before slaughter to avoid meat taints.

Suspected of being toxic to cattle in Britain, but little evidence of toxicity in Australia.


Noxious weed of VIC, SA, TAS.

Management and Control:

Food reserves in the bulb are usually at a minimum about 2 months after emergence (winter), so this is the best time to achieve control by cultivation.

Cultivation from late autumn to spring provides good control but needs to be repeated for several years.

Sulfonylurea herbicides are more effective than the hormone herbicides.

Mowing and heavy grazing reduces but does not eliminate infestations.


Eradication strategies:

Eradication will be difficult due to bulb dormancy and variable germination times.

Cultivate to bring bulbs to the surface in late summer. Apply herbicides to prevent the production of new bulbs bulbils and seed.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Chinese Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Field Garlic (Allium oleraceum)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Greathead Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum)

Leek (Allium porrum)

Naples Onion (Allium neopolitanum)

Onion (Allium cepa)

Purple-flower Garlic (Allium rotundum)

Roundhead Garlic (Allium sphaerocephalon)

Sand Leek (Allium scorodoprasum ssp. scorodoprasum)

Shallot (Allium ascalonicum)

Three-cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum)

Allium roseum has up to 20 pink flowers and a cylindrical stem.

Plants of similar appearance:


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P18 Diagram.

Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P335.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #53.17.

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (1992). Noxious weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P87-89 Diagram.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). p10. Photo. Diagram.


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