It grows in meadows, along streams and in parks: wild garlic can be found almost everywhere in spring. Many people collect the green, garlic-scented leaves to use at home for pesto or pasta filling. If you prefer to be on the safe side instead of collecting them yourself, you can also find the plant in the supermarket. At least that’s what a woman from Nuremberg thought, who is now reported by the local media. She bought this last weekend in a Lidl branch and made a pesto out of it, he writes “Münchner Merkur” .
However, while eating, she and her husband noticed a burning sensation in the mouth. The two continued to eat, it is also said “Nordbayern.de” , didn’t think anything at first. However, the pain then got worse and spread to the esophagus. Then at night: diarrhea. It wasn’t until the next day that the two found out: they hadn’t eaten wild garlic – but its poisonous doppelganger: aroid.
The couple must be on medication for poisoning, according to the reports. The liver should also be examined to rule out possible late effects. It depends on whether the couple will take further steps. The manufacturer has since apologized and announced that it would better train staff to recognize differences in plant species.
Poisoning with aroid
Aroid grows in similar locations and at the same time as wild garlic, but differs significantly in its more arrow-shaped leaf shape with irregularly shaped leaf veins, write plant experts „NDR“ . It was voted “Poisonous Plant of the Year” in 2019, explains the “Industrial Association Agrarian” . “We strongly advise against collecting the arum or its berries, as just touching them can cause severe skin irritation,” he warns. Burning pain in the mouth occurs when even small amounts are consumed.
The result is vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea and even serious damage to health such as cardiac arrhythmia.
How to distinguish wild garlic from other plants
At first glance, the leaves of wild garlic look very similar to those of other plants. For example the green leaf shoots of the autumn crocus and the tips of the lily of the valley. The crux of the matter: While wild garlic is edible and a coveted ingredient in spring cuisine, lily of the valley and autumn crocus are really poisonous.
Therefore, it is important to know the differences between the coveted spring herb and its seeming doubles. “With wild garlic, the leaves sprout first. The flowering shoots only follow after six weeks. In the case of the lily of the valley, the stems of the bells come out of the earth with the leaves,” explains Stefanie Klein, author of the cookbook “Bärlauch”, which is published by the Swiss FONA publishing house.
Watch out for the smell
It is typical of wild garlic that it often grows over large areas, sometimes several hundred square meters in the forest and completely covers the ground. “But the most characteristic thing is the smell: Only wild garlic leaves smell like garlic,” says the wild garlic expert. So if you think you’ve found wild garlic leaves, grate one of them. He then smells quickly whether he is right or not.
Wild garlic leaves have a matt underside
Klein mentions other differences: While several leaves curl around each other in autumn crocus and lily of the valley, wild garlic leaves clearly show a single stalk. In addition, with wild garlic leaves only the upper side of the leaf is shiny, the underside is matt. With lilies of the valley it is exactly the opposite.
The leaves of the autumn crocus are also much longer, reaching up to 40 centimeters. However, they like to thrive in places similar to wild garlic. A good tip: its light pink, rarely white flowers only appear in autumn.
Autumn crocus poison can be fatal
The autumn crocuses apply according to the Poison Center Bonn as very toxic. Symptoms appear after about two to six hours. Severe vomiting and massive diarrhea can then also lead to shock. Paralysis and cardiovascular failure are possible.