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Tree Description: Society garlic is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial with narrow, grass-like green leaves and clusters of small lilac flowers. Leaves reach about a foot tall and flowers rise up on stalks about two feet tall. The tubular flowers open up at the end to look like six pointed stars. Tolerant of both cold and drought, this plant grows in zones 8 to 10 and flowers in warm months. The leaves smell of garlic when disturbed, so keep this in mind when selecting a location for planting. Having society garlic in a high traffic area may be visually attractive, but unless you like the constant smell of garlic every time the plant is brushed against, this placement is not ideal. On the brighter side, it's also resistant to deer damage. The rhizomes and leaves are edible and can be used in dishes the same way that garlic or garlic chives are used. Flowers are also edible and can be used as a delicate garnish.
Scientific Name: Tulbaghia violacea
Common Name: pink agapanthus, wild garlic, sweet garlic, spring bulbs, or spring flowers
Relatives: onions, Clivia, Eucharis, Narcissus and Nerine.
Origin: Eastern South Africa
Distribution: Society garlic can be found in exotic import stores in certain countries, but it is primarily available in South Africa, other African nations, Mexico, Tanzania, and across the South Pacific. It is sensitive to frost and isn’t the hardiest of plants, so it requires specific climates to grow.
Importance: Traditionally speaking, society garlic has been used in a number of medicinal applications, in order to treat problems with hormone balance and blood pressure, as well as to help prevent certain types of cancer. In terms of using this garlic in cooking, the flavor is decidedly milder than normal garlic and is, therefore, not popular for those who are looking for a major flavor element in their food. However, the leaves are edible and have a lightly spicy, peppery flavor. While this flavor is very reminiscent of garlic, the mildness is easily obscured by other spices or particular foods. The most popular culinary uses for society garlic include adding these leaves to salads or putting them on top of pasta, rather than adding garlic powder or garlic salt.