Facts About Allium Moly – The Golden Garlic
The Allium moly is a beautiful little spring plant that also goes by the names Lily Leek and Golden Garlic. The word moly comes from Greek mythology, and was a drug mentioned in one of the tales found in the Odyssey.
Culinary And Medicinal Uses
This allium is a member of the Alliaceae, or onion family, and is sometimes simply referred to as a flowering onion. The blooms and foliage definitely have the onion or garlic smell to them. Some sources say the plant is inedible. Other sources say the plant has both culinary and medicinal value. Still other sources indicate the leaves and blossoms are not only edible, but delicious, if you like garlic. The bulbs themselves can be eaten either raw or cooked. The bulbs are not a substitute for garlic however, although they do have a mild garlic flavor. They can still be used in salads, as can the leaves and the flowers. Also, the bulbs are quite a bit smaller than is the case with most garlic bulbs. There have been a few cases of poisoning reported, although in these instances a large quantity of the plants were consumed, much greater quantities than a human would likely ever consume in a single sitting. The same report indicates that dogs are particularity susceptible to the toxins in this plant. This isn’t surprising, as almost any veterinarian will tell you that onions, and member of the onion family, are highly toxic to dogs.
As far as medicinal qualities are concerned, any the plant may have are not well documented, except to say they would be expected to be similar to the medicinal qualities of other members of the onion family. There is at least one practical use of the juice of the plant, and that is it is said to be an excellent moth repellant, and can serve as a general insect repellant as well, as long as you can abide by the garlic odor.
Characteristics Of The Plant
This appears to be quite a hardy little plant. It is of course a bulb, but appears to be a bulb that will grow and produce flowers in any soil or location one could place a bulb in. While that may be somewhat of an exaggeration, owners of this plant tell stories of a little plant that produces brilliant yellow flowers even when growing in poor soil conditions, and even if it is neglected. The same owners will tell you that once the bulbs are placed in a nice, loamy soil, and given a bit of attention, the flowers will be larger and more brilliant in color, and the foliage more will be much more lush.
Unlike many alliums, and some varieties of onions and garlic for that matter, the leaves of the allium moly plant aren’t in the habit of dying back before the plant begins goes into bloom. Its leaves are long, nearly as long as the stem of the plant, and they tend to stay green, not only until the plant blossoms, but well afterward. The leaves do not grow on the stem or stalk of the plant, but fan out from the base of the plant.
Allium moly is native to southern Europe. It is hardy in most climates, although it will often perform best in cooler locations. If planted in climates where the afternoon sun is quite hot, it would be best to have these plants in a location where they would get some afternoon shade. As far as cool weather is concerned, the allium moly is hardy to USDA Zone 3. The stalk of this plant typically grows to about a foot in height, with the spread of the foliage being about the same. Its bright yellow blooms seem to contrast best with flowers that are either dark blue or purple. Delphiniums are a nice companion plant, and the moly can even be placed in with other alliums, the blossoms of which are usually purple in color.
Propagation is by either seeds or bulb offsets. Allium moly will naturalize when left alone, primarily through reseeding. Even though it tends to naturalize easily, it is not considered to be an invasive plant. Its spread can be kept to a minimum by deadheading blossoms before they have a chance to reseed. A clump of the plant will continue to grow in size, due to the bulb offsets, but any tendency to spread will be quite slow, and any spreading that might occur will probably be at a glacial pace.
This plant is quite insect and disease resistant. It is also deer resistant. While deer will gladly root up and eat prize tulip bulbs, they usually leave anything having an onion or garlic smell alone. Squirrels will leave the bulbs alone as well.
In their native habitat, these alliums are often found on mountain slopes, particularly in shady, rocky areas and limestone rubble. Unsurprisingly, these little yellow plants seem to be very much at home in rock gardens. When planted together with blue or purple ground cover, the effect can be especially pleasing to the eye.