Bear's garlic (Allium ursinum)


Bear's garlic, so named because brown bears in Europe tend to feast upon it, is a wild relative of the chive that is popularly used as a flavoring or dietary vegetable in Central European cuisine. It grows in swampy fields and wooded areas in slightly acidic soil and is often picked as a vegetable for salads or steamed dishes by people who live in indigenous areas.
Bear's garlic has been confused with lily of the valley and autumn crocus, especially in the spring before flowering. Several cases of colchicine poisoning due to consumption of autumn crocus mistaken for bear's garlic have been reported in recent years. Colchine is a highly poisonous alkaloid that can lead to gastroenterocolitis, followed by multiple organ failure, and sometimes death.
Although there is a lack of human evidence describing the use of bear's garlic for any indication, bear's garlic may have inhibitory effects on human platelet aggregation. Bear's garlic is not listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Related Terms

Ajoenes, Alliaceae (family) Allium ursinum, buckrams, flavonoid glycosides, lectins, ramsons, thiosulfinates, wild garlic, wood garlic.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.