Allium ursinum, bear’s garlic: characteristic and growing requirements

We continue with our particular plant files. Again, we are talking about a plant that also has medicinal properties , and is used in herbal medicine. We are going to talk a little about everything about this plant, traditionally known as bear’s garlic.

As always, in our particular style. Let’s get to it with the cultivation of allium ursinum !


We begin this article by naming the family to which it belongs ( Amaryllidaceae ). Here we can find around 1,600 species, including many horticultural, medicinal and ornamental species of great economic importance.

Allium ursinum grows to 30 cm. It has large leaves full of greenery (as can be seen in the cover photo), emerging from a small bulb.

As you may suspect, the term “a llium ” reminds you of garlic, and if we approach the plant and smell it, it brings back memories of a llium sativum , whose article where you can see the cultivation keys can be seen here. 

Then we will discuss its medicinal properties, but they are also very similar to those of garlic.


Its cultivation is typical of humid areas. We can find it in many areas of Europe, including Spain .

In that country, we have to go to the north (with more humidity) or central, to be able to see this plant grow.

For example, in a wild way it has been seen to grow and develop in Álava, Cantabria, Asturias and the Pyrenees.

It is not very resistant to frost and prefers warm temperatures (playing with humidity, yes).

Allium ursinum  shows special interest in areas covered with vegetation, which create a characteristic microclimate, such as wooded areas, with padded and humid soils.


As we have commented, it requires that the area where it grows has good humidity levels . It does not support excessive heat, so it prefers shady areas, covered with vegetation.

Although we have said that it prefers humid soils, it can also grow in dry ones, although not excessively.

It has a wide pH range, so there will be no problem, if you have an acidic or alkaline soil.

If in any case, you would like to know the exact value of the area of ​​your garden where you want to grow, the advice on pH that we gave in this article may help you .

Regarding the level of fertility , it is preferable that it has good availability of nitrogen. The incorporations of organic matter previously contributed to the crop, considerably improve the development of the plant.

The padded (mulching)  play an important role to maintain good levels of moisture and warmth in the soil.

We have already said it, but an important condition in this crop is to try to leave a permanently humid soil, below field capacity and avoiding puddles.

You will have to adapt the irrigation according to the climate in your area.

In the image below you can see a detail of the area where  Allium ursinum  usually grows. You can see how it is surrounded by trees that generate a good area of ​​shade, allowing it to preserve good levels of humidity.

The environment in which bear’s garlic or feral garlic has evolved can be predicted by the large and wide leaf shape , assuming that water shortages will cause rapid wilting of the aerial part of the plant.


It must be said that, although it shares many of the natural properties that we enjoy from common garlic (A llium sativum ), the effects of Allium ursinum  are somewhat less. More or less, these are the properties it can have:

  • Anthelmintic
  • Stimulating
  • Stomatal
  • Vasodilatador
  • Disinfectant
  • Depurative

The disinfectant effects (well known in garlic) of allium ursinum, are due to the content of glycosides, vitamin C and allyl sulfide.

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