Wild garlic is one of the most recognised wild foods in our countryside with many of us making wild garlic pesto but this familiar plant has lots of other culinary uses. During March and April wild garlic is at its peak with fresh new growth and starry white flowers. All parts of this plant are edible including the flower buds, seed heads and seeds. The small, slim bulbs are edible too but are too tiny to bother and under UK law it is illegal to dig up wild plants without permission of the landowner, so leave the bulbs in the ground and enjoy the above ground parts.
Wild garlic and dog's mercury often grow side by side in the woods (see the garlic leaves in the photo above) but unlike wild garlic, dog's mercury is toxic. Although the leaves are very different with close inspection, it is very easy to pick dog's mercury leaves by accident. Check your harvest for any leaves with serrated edges and don't eat those.
These plants also grow alongside wild garlic but the mature leaves look very different to wild garlic so are unlikely to catch out most careful foragers. However, the young leaves look remarkably similar so beware. Wild garlic leaves have veins that run from the base to the tip of the leaf without branching. Wild arum leaves have branching veins and a vein that runs around the leaf like a boundary slightly set in from the edge. In the photo above the vein that runs like a border around the leaf is clearly visible.
The veins in wild garlic leaves run like stripes up the leaf from the base to the tip.