Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. Garlic has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. A bulb of garlic, the most commonly used part of the plant, is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Single clove garlic (also called Pearl garlic or Solo garlic) also existsâ€”it originates in the Yunnan province of China. The cloves are used as seed, for consumption (raw or cooked), and for medicinal purposes. The leaves, stems (scape), and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. The papery, protective layers of ``skin`` over various parts of the plant and the roots attached to the bulb are the only parts not considered palatable.//
The ancestry of cultivated garlic, according to Zohary and Hopf, is not definitely established: ``A difficulty in the identification of its wild progenitor is the sterility of the cultivars.``
Allium sativum grows in the wild in areas where it has become naturalised; it probably descended from the species Allium longicuspis, which grows wild in southwestern Asia. The ``wild garlic``, ``crow garlic``, and ``field garlic`` of Britain are the species Allium ursinum, Allium vineale, and Allium oleraceum, respectively. In North America, Allium vineale (known as ``wild garlic`` or ``crow garlic``) and Allium canadense, known as ``meadow garlic`` or ``wild garlic`` and ``wild onion``, are common weeds in fields. One of the best-known ``garlics``, the so-called elephant garlic, is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum). It is called Sudu Lunu in Sinhalese, Lehsun in Urdu and Hindi, Velli ullipaaya in Telugu, Vellai poondu in Tamil, Velutthulli in Malayalam, and Bellulli in Kannada.
Consumer garlic can come in many formats, including fresh, frozen, dried and shelf stable products (in tubes or jars). Due to the fact that shelf stable garlic is often derived from dehydrated garlic and then packed in preservatives, the pungent flavor is often compromised. A newer product uses compacted cubes which are then frozen, claiming to retain flavor better.
Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. In cold climates, cloves can be planted in the ground about six weeks before the soil freezes and harvested in late spring. Garlic plants are not attacked by pests. They can suffer from pink root, a disease that stunts the roots and turns them pink or red. Garlic plants can be grown close together, leaving enough room for the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient depth.
There are different types or subspecies of garlic, most notably hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. The latitude where the garlic is grown affects the choice of type as garlic can be day-length sensitive. Hardneck garlic is generally grown in cooler climates; softneck garlic is generally grown closer to the equator.
Garlic is grown globally, but