Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) or Ramsons or Creamh in Irish has been carpeting damp woodland and hedge banks since April displaying its starry clusters of white flowers and contrasting with the bluebells that favour the same habitat (1).
The leaves are broad and pointed and when squeezed between thumb and forefinger they emit a strong garlic smell. These leaves look very like the poisonous ones on Lily of The Valley and Wild Arum, but the latter do not give off the smell of garlic when bruised (2).
Its leaves and flowers are foraged to make salads, soups, pesto, garlic butter and sauces (3).
Herbalists in times past valued it for curing lung conditions, toothaches and headaches. It was used as an antiseptic too and for curing coughs and colds. It is mentioned in old Irish myths, legends and poetry and during the time of the Brehon Laws a fine of two and a half milch cows was imposed on anyone who took it without permission of the landowner.
Creamh appears in Irish placenames as Glencrew in Co. Tyrone which is derived from Gleann Creamha (garlic glen) and Cloncraff in Co. Offaly which is derived from Cluain Chreamha (garlic meadow).
Three-Cornered Leek or Three-Cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) or Glaschreamh in Irish is in the garlic family too. It flowers from April to June as well.
The white bell-shaped flowers hang in clusters with attractive green stripes down the centre of each petal (4).
The stems are key to recognising this plant as well as its smell. Each one has three sides, hence its name.
Like Wild Garlic it is used in food as all parts are edible. However, it does not have its long lineage: it was introduced to this part of the world from the Mediterranean region in the 18th century.