Foods Hidden in Plain Sight – Foraging Society Garlic

by Dr. Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, Food Chemist

If you’re unfamiliar with the landscaping plant known as society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) you should learn to recognize its chive-like leaves and stems topped with clusters of pink-purplish flowers.

Photo by author and not to be used without permission.

Replacement for Chives

As the name suggest, it’s a relative of the common garlic and onion, and so its leaves are a good replacement for chives.


The flowers are also tasty, but the bulb itself is very strongly flavored and generally used medicinally rather than eaten as a seasoning.

Like all onions, society garlic is loaded with vitamin C which is something your body needs every day.

Just as important, this plant also contains the medicinal compounds quercetin and alliin, both of which help strengthen the immune system to help prevent or fight infections.

Dry Some for Later

The plant can be dried for later use. Dig up the whole plant, wash off any dirt, lay them spread out on some towels until the wash water has dried, then plait the leaves together like a garlic braid.

Store the braid by hanging it in a cool, dry, well ventilated area out of direct sunlight. In this manner the society garlic will remain usable for up to a year.


About the Author

Mark Vorderbruggen started one of the top foraging sites on the internet in 2008, but he has been a forager all his life. Both his parents’ families used foraged foods to survive during the Great Depression, and they passed their knowledge on to him. Knowing how to harvest nature’s free food fed him through the poverty years of his childhood and while getting a master’s degree in medicinal chemistry and a PhD in physical organic chemistry.

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