Wild Garlic

Glenn Nice and Bill Johnson
Purdue Univesity Cooperative Extension Service
Created 4/24/2010
Revised 4/27/2010
Information listed here is based on research and outreach extension programming at Purdue University and elsewhere. The use of trade names is for clarity to readers of this site, does not imply endorsement of a particular brand nor does exclusion imply non-approval. Always consult the herbicide label for the most current and update precautions and restrictions. Copies, reproductions, or transcriptions of this document or its information must bear the statement ‘Produced and prepared by Purdue University Extension Weed Science’ unless approval is given by the author.
Last week I had the pleasure of being in the Southeast part of Indiana counting weeds. It is occasionally part of the job being in weed science and although it probably would not make it on the show “Dirty Jobs” it can be pretty hard on the knees. While face down I noticed that the weed we were counting the most was wild garlic (Allium vineale L.).

Wild Garlic in a no-till field in the spring. Photo: Glenn Nice, Purdue University.

Originally introduced from Europe, wild garlic is a perennial that can be found though out the state of Indiana. It has linear leaves that are hollow and look like chives growing in the field or yard. It can be differentiated from wild onion by the fact that wild onion’s leaves are not hollow[1] and wild onion often appears to be smaller in stature. If you have a chance to dig wild garlic up you will see that its leaves come from an underground bulb. No surprise there, for wild garlic is related to onion (A. cepa L.) we buy in the grocery store. If you break wild garlic’s leaves and take a sniff, you will smell a distinct onion or garlic smell. It spreads by aerial bulbs or bulbs in the soil, seeds are reported to not be a common way of spread[1].

Wild garlic has occasionally been used as an edible and medicinal plant. Although toxicity is not commonly reported in wild garlic[2, 3, 5, 6], large doses in a short period of time may cause problems due to sulfoxides found in the plant[4], not to mention bad breath. In the article “Wild Garlic, Allium vineale L. – Little to Crow About,” the author cited a case reported by the Indiana Academy of Science of cattle poisoning in 1917[4]. I could not find a copy of the original report for any details.

Wild garlic is most troublesome in wheat where the aerial bulbs are similar in size as wheat grain. These bulbs can get processed with the grain and taint the flavor of flower. It also can be a weed in pastures, where it can also alter the flavor of milk. Wild garlic is often present when planting soybean and corn. We have also received calls regarding wild garlic control in lawns.


Typically in Indiana, wild garlic will have to be controlled in the fall or early spring. The bullets develop in May or June so control of plants should be done before bulb production.

Wheat. Harmony Extra SG (0.75-0.9 oz) + surfactant can be applied when wild garlic is 12” or shorter but after 2” to 4” of new growth has occurred. Harmony Extra SG can be applied to wheat after the 2-leaf stage but before the wheat’s flag leaf is visible. Peak also has good activity on wild garlic (0.25 to 0.5 oz) and is labeled for up to 8” wild garlic control.

Soybean. Applications of Canopy EX (1.1 oz or more) + 2,4-D (0.5 lb ai)+ COC (1% v/v) in the fall provided above 90% control of wild garlic in the spring[7]. Synchrony XP + 2,4-D can be used in the spring 7 days before planting and Harmony Extra SG (0.45-0.9 oz) or Harmony GT at 0.08 oz/A can be used up to planting soybean before emergence. Apply Harmony Extra when wild garlic is less than 12” tall, but when at least 2” new growth has occurred. Classic or Synchrony XP can be used postemergence in soybean, however control is best achieved early season or in the fall. Glyphosate + 2,4-D can provide suppression to control of wild garlic in the spring burndown. Work done in southern Illinois reported 100% control with applications of glyphosate at 0.75 lb ae/a in fall and spring[8]. However, the use of glyphosate may be inconsistent and time dependent. In a study in South East Indiana, glyphosate + 2,4-D (0.75 lb ae/A + 0.5 lb ae/A) applied early (April 8) in the spring was reported to provide 88% control of wild garlic[9]. Applications 15 days later at the same rates provided only 45% control 22 days after application.

Corn. Harmony Extra SG at 0.45 to 0.9 oz/A or Harmony GT at 0.08 oz/A can be applied as a burndown treatment up to planting corn but before emergence. Apply Harmony Extra SG to wild garlic that is less than 12” but has at least 2 to 4 inches of growth in the early spring. Glyphosate (0.75 lb ae) + simazine (l lb ai) in the fall followed by glyphosate in the spring provided 100% control in a study conducted in Southern Illinois[8]. However, most of the activity most likely came from glyphosate in the treatment. See above for more information regarding glyphosate’s activity.

Pasture. Products containing the herbicide active ingredient metsulfuron-methyl have excellent activity on wild garlic. Such products include Cimarron Max (0.25 oz Part A + 1 pt Part B), Cimarron Plus (0.125 to 0.25 oz), or Valuron (0.1 to 0.2 oz). Glyphosate products that are labeled for dormant applications or in renovation can provide good control of wild garlic.


1. R.H. Uva, J.C. Neal and J.M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press, Ithica and London. p. 30.

2. Annonymous. Accessed April 14, 2010. Plants Poisonous to Livestock. Cornell University []

3. J. Cardina, C. Herms, T. Koch and T. Webster. Accessed April 14, 2010. Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide; Wild Garlic. [http://www.oardc.ohio-]

4. M.S. Defelice. 2003. Wild garlic, Allium vineale L. – little to crow about. Weed Technology Vol. 17:890-895.

5. H.A. Stephens. 1980. Poisonous Plants of The Central United States. The Regents Press of Kansas, Lawrence. p. 138.

6. R.J. Goetz, T.N. Jordan, J. W. McCain and N.Y. Su. Accessed April 14, 2010. Indiana plants poisonous to livestock and pets. []

7. B. Johnson. 2009. Annual Research Report. 128:08F-SEP-NTS-04 []

8. R.F. Krausz and Young B.G. 2005. Winter annual weed control in glyphosate-resistant corn. NCWSS Research Report Vol. 62:178.

9. B. Johnson. 2009. Kixor efficacy on chickweed and henbit. 132:09S-SEP-NTS-50. []