Risk of confusion with wild garlic and lily of the valley!

Risk of confusion with wild garlic and lily of the valley!

Wild garlic and lily of the valley?

The most important difference between wild garlic and lily of the valley is that wild garlic leaves are edible, while the lily of the valley is highly poisonous at all planting times. When eating the leaves of the spring blossom, severe symptoms of poisoning occur, which can even end tragically.

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However, there are a few characteristics that can be used to distinguish the two plants.

How do you distinguish between wild garlic and lily of the valley?

  • Growing time
  • odor
  • leaves
  • Stalk
  • Buds and flowers

Wild garlic leaves sprout earlier

Wild garlic sprouts its leaves earlier than lily of the valley leaves, which can often only be seen up to four weeks later.

Distinguishing characteristic odor

The smell is probably the most important and clearest distinguishing feature. Even if you pass a place in the forest with a lot of wild garlic, you can smell a garlic smell. If you are not sure which plant it is, pick a leaf and rub it between your fingers.

If the leaf emits an aromatic smell of garlic, it is non-toxic wild garlic. Lily of the valley leaves have almost no odor of their own.

If the crushed leaf was a lily of the valley, do not put your fingers in your mouth. Wash them thoroughly at home.

This is how the leaves differ from each other

Wild garlic forms long, lancet-like leaves. There is a green leaf on each petiole. With the lily of the valley there are always two leaves.

Wild garlic leaves are long-stalked, while the stalks of lily of the valley leaves are shorter.

Triangular stem

In contrast to the lily of the valley, the stems of leaves and inflorescences are triangular in wild garlic. Lily of the valley stems are round.

The wild garlic flower is an umbel

Lilies of the valley deserve their name. Its flowers form small, downward-hanging bells that are strung on a stem. The wild garlic blossom, on the other hand, is an umbel.

The umbellate grows on a long stem and has a spherical shape. Buds initially develop on it, from which up to 20 small white flowers with six petals each appear.

When wild garlic blooms, it's harvest time is over. The leaves lose their taste as soon as buds appear, and later flowers. You should then no longer collect the leaves anyway. The lily of the valley blooms several weeks later.


Other similar plants such as spotted arum and autumn crocus, which are poisonous and therefore not edible, are often confused with wild garlic. In the trade it has occasionally been confused with arum leaves. You should therefore also check the wild garlic you have bought before consuming it.