Allium subhirsutum

Allium subhirsutum

Hairy or hairy garlic (Allium subhirsutum L.) is a herbaceous bulbous species belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Plantae Kingdom, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Liliales Order, Amaryllidaceae Family and therefore to the Genus Allium and to the Species A. subhirsutum.
Among the synonyms of this species we mention:
– Allium ciliatum Cirillo;
– Allium tinei C. Presl ..

Etymology –
The term Allium comes from allium / alium garlic, quoted by Plautus, Pliny and others (of uncertain origin, probably from the Greek ἄγλῑς áglis head of garlic; Webster Dictionary, based on Asian origin, proposes a possible connection with Sanskrit āluka edible root of Amorphophallus campanulatus, for A. Gentil it would derive from the Celtic heat, burning, for the characteristic flavor.
The specific epithet subhirsutum is given by the sub-almost prefix, similar to, less than, and from hirsutus: slightly less than shaggy or similar to the congener species having hirsutus, a, um as epithet.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Pelosetto garlic is a stenomediterranean species with western gravitation, widespread from Spain and the Canary Islands to Turkey and Palestine and present in all regions of southern Italy, in Sardinia and along all the Tyrrhenian coasts. Its habitat is that of arid pastures, uncultivated areas, garrigos and open woods, from sea level to about 600 – 700 m above sea level.

Description –
Allium subhirsutum is a perennial herbaceous plant up to 50 cm tall, with cylindrical stem, ovate, white, subspherical bulb wrapped in whitish tunics, accompanied by bulbils.
The leaves are long, up to 15 mm wide, thinned towards the tip, with hairs along the edges, hence the name “hairy garlic”.
The flowers, white in color with thin pink areas, are gathered together in a loose umbrella, wrapped in a short spathe; perigonium of 6 white, ovate-lanceolate tepals, stamens 6 included in the perigonium; the white stamens depart from the base of the petals and their anthers are reddish brown in color. The color of the anthers helps not to confuse Allium subhirsutum with Allium subvillosum (present only in Sicily) which has stamens more protruding than the petals and yellow anthers.
The antesis is between March and April.
The fruit is a loculicidal capsule of 2.2-4.1 x 3.1-5.4 mm, with 1 or 2 seeds per niche of 1.7-3 x 1-1.8 mm irregularly ovate-angular, without eleosoma.

Cultivation –
Hairy garlic, like triquetro garlic and wild garlic is useful for the creation of food forests and permaculture projects without incurring the risk of biological pollution given by the use of “alien” species.
This plant adapts to any soil whether acid, neutral or alkaline as long as it is moist.
It can be grown in the ground or in pots using bulbs or seedlings. An average fertilized soil can be fine.
It is important to space the bulbs single or in groups (max 10 per group) at 2-3 cm between them, burying them at about 5 cm of depth. The burying depth of the seedlings instead, varies according to the length of the stem. Then place the seedlings at a depth such as to keep the green section just off the ground.
Since the plant does not tolerate water stagnation, it is necessary to add inert material such as terracotta shards or pebbles to the bottom of the pot, to allow the pot to drain the excess water collected during manual watering or rain. In northern Italy or at altitudes above 600 meters above sea level, the seedlings should be moved to a place sheltered from severe frosts in the coldest periods of the year.

Uses and Traditions –
Allium subhirsutum falls within the category of those spontaneous plants that were once known by a Curtensian population and which today, due to the creation of industrial agriculture and which is ecological and socially dangerous due to the erosion it has generated, it is little known.
This plant has great potential both from a cultural, food, agroecological point of view and for its many uses.
From a biochemical point of view, the intact cells of all Alliums contain alliin, an odorless amino acid which, by the action of the enzyme alliinase, which is released when the bulb breaks, turns into allicin, a highly odorous compound.
All Allium species have different medicinal properties; bulbs and leaves are edible. The juice is used as a moth repellent, and in popular belief it is said to work against insects and moles as well.
In phytotherapy it can be used as: antiseptic, antitumor, antibiotic,
blood circulation stimulant, expectorant, vasodilator,
coronary, antioxidant, cardiovascular, cholagogue, tonic.
The active ingredients, in addition to alliin, and allicin (in the crushed bulbs) are: disulfide of
diallile (characteristic odor), ajoene, vitamins A, B1, B2, PP, C, garlicine, mineral salts and alisine.
However, a warning must be followed since, having rubefacent effects, external use at a high dosage can cause blistering.
The parts used are the bulbils.
Even Allium subhirsutum is therefore an edible plant and its taste is that of a sweet garlic.
For this reason, this species of garlic, in addition to being edible, is sometimes grown in vegetable gardens. The bulbs can be eaten cooked or in salads. However, there are some reports of toxicity when consumed in large quantities.
The flower is frequented by pollinating insects including Apis mellifera.

Preparation method –
Hairy garlic can be used fresh throughout the year, as it can be harvested at the stage of only the bulb, leaves and flowers.
The whole plant can be used in the kitchen by easily replacing the use of common garlic (Allium sativum L.).
Given its tasty but less aggressive flavor than common garlic, the leaves can be used to prepare sauces, such as wild garlic pesto, to season pasta, ravioli, meats and fish.
With bulbs you can prepare bagna càuda, garlic bruschetta, salmorigano for fish.
With flowers you can prepare an excellent tempura to be served with salted fermented, give flavor to soups, season salads and salads also offering their choreographic side in the dishes.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.



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