Ever walked through the woods and wondered what that strong smell in spring was?

In April, our ancient woodlands are awash with the white, star shaped flowers and the distinctive smell of wild garlic! Millions of bulbs can exist in just one wood and this gives rise to amazing 'white carpets.’

The Latin name for wild garlic is “Allium ursinum.” The second half of name, ursinum, refers to the fact that brown bears love to eat wild garlic bulbs.  This leads to the common names – bear’s leek and bear garlic!

Finding and identifying wild garlic

Wild garlic is abundant on the woodland floor during the spring and can be identified by clusters of the smooth, glossy leaves and white flower clusters that are on stems. The leaves look similar to Lily of the Valley which is poisonous, however Lily of the Valley has bell shaped flowers, and wild garlic has star shaped flowers. To make sure the plant you've found is wild garlic, pick a leaf and slightly crush it- it should have a mellow garlic smell (if the woodland doesn't smell like it already, that is!). Further identification details can be found on the Totally Wild UK website, click here.

If in doubt please don't pick and consult an expert.

Top tips:

  • Find areas where there is plenty of wild garlic growing and only take small amounts for personal use, making sure to leave plenty for other foragers and for the ecosystem and wildlife as a food source.
  • Some areas you may need permission to pick from so make sure to ask before you pick! 
  • Make sure you stay in public areas and don't trespass, as well as keeping to footpaths to avoid trampling plants.
  • Most importantly, be mindful of the woodland and be careful not to cause damage to the habitat and wildlife that live in it! If in doubt, don't pick.
  • Always be 100% sure of identification of foraged foods before trying - if in doubt, do not pick and consult an expert.
  • Please remember only to pick the amount you need! 

Cooking with wild garlic: pesto recipe

Wild garlic has such an amazing flavour- it can pretty much go in any recipe! Stir into pasta, in sandwiches, salads, or why not even have a go at trout fishing at our lakes and use the pesto as a dressing? Click here for more information on trout fishing.

This recipe is really simple and you'll have yourself some delicious pesto in just a few minutes. It should keep for up to a week in the fridge, and this makes two small jars- double or half the quantities as necessary. You can also freeze in an ice cube tray if you want to save some to use later in the year! If you're vegan, you can swap the parmesan for nutritional yeast or simply leave out completely.
Sustainable, local, recycled jars... what's not to love?
Let's get started...


200g wild garlic
100g parmesan
100g cashews
Olive oil
Juice of half a lemon


  1. Wash the wild garlic thoroughly and blitz in the food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Add the parmesan and process for a little longer.
  3. Finally add in the cashews and blend, incorporating olive oil to the desired consistency.
  4. Mix in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper until you're happy with the taste!