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Bulbous perennial plant (Allium sativum) of the family Alliaceae, native to central Asia and growing wild in Italy and southern France. The bulbs are used as a flavouring. A classic ingredient in many national cuisines, garlic has a powerful onionlike aroma and pungent taste. Since ancient and medieval times it has been prized for its medicinal properties; it was formerly carried as a charm against vampires and other evils. Garlic bulbs are used sliced or crushed to flavour sauces, stews, and salad dressings. The membranous skin of the garlic bulb encloses up to 20 edible bulblets called cloves. See alsoallium.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on garlic, visit Britannica.com.