Inspector Indigenous – Nikki Brighton
Common Name: wild garlic, Afrikaans name: wilde knoffel
While not a lot is flowering in the veld at this time of year, Tulbaghia violacea is blooming in gardens, car parks and verges all over the Midlands.
It seems to thrive in difficult conditions which make it a favourite with landscapers.
Traditionally it has been planted to keep snakes at bay, discourage moles and as an insect repellent when rubbed on the skin.
Clumps grow and multiply fast, particularly if kept well-watered.
Tubular mauve flowers are held at the end of tall stems above the leaves making a spectacular display if planted en masse.
The strap-like leaves smell strongly of garlic when crushed and add peppery, garlic flavour when chopped into food.
Tulbaghia is very useful herb to have in your garden. Decoctions of bulbs are used for colds and coughs and as a remedy to destroy intestinal worms. The leaves are used to treat cancer of the oesophagus. In Zulu culture, the bulbs are also used to make an aphrodisiac medicine.