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Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a food additive and as medicine in China (Han 1993). The name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, derived from gar (a spear) and lac (a plant), referring to the shape of its leaves. It belongs to the Liliaceae family and genus Allium, which has more than 600 available species. Included in this family are onions, shallots, leeks, Japanese bunching onions, Chinese and common chives. Mostly all Allium crops originate from the main center of Allium diversity that stretches from the Mediterranean basin to central Asia (Meer et al. 1997. 1997). Garlic has a long history of use throughout Europe as well, being used as a food additive and for various medicinal purposes, and has often been mentioned in folklore.

There is a Mohammedan legend that states: "When Satan stepped out from the Garden of Eden after the fall of man, Garlic sprang up from the spot where he placed his left foot, and Onion from that where his right foot touched". In some parts of Europe, there is a superstition that if a man running a race chews on a morsel of the bulb, it will prevent his competitors from passing him (Grieve 1995).

However, garlic is very important in many cultures for their cuisine. What would Chinese or Italian food be without garlic? And its long history of medicinal uses are now being backed up by numerous studies proving its antibacterial and healing powers.

Center of Origin of Garlic

Garlic is believed to have originated in western China from around the Tien Shan Mountains to Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan. Vvedenskv proposed that garlic evolved from the wild species Allium longicuspus (Etoh and Pank 1996, Al-Zahim et al. 1997). The spread of garlic probably was first to the Old World and...

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...tion studies in China. Preventitive Medicine 22:712-722.

Mayo Clinic. 1999. Garlic.

Meer, Q. P., J. L. Botha, and C. R. Galmarini. 1997. Old and new crops within edible Allium. Proceedings of the first international symposium on edible Alliaceae. Acta Hortic, 433:17-31.

Orlowski, M., E. Rekowska, and R. Dobromilska. 1994. The effect of yield of garlic (Allium sativum L) of autumn and spring planting using different methods of seedstalk trimming, Folia Hortic. 6:79-89.

Pooler, M. R. and P. W. Simon. 1993. Characterization and classification of isozyme and morphological variation in a diverse collection of garlic, clones. Euphytica 68: 121 130.

Seno, S., G. G. Saliba, F. J. de Paula, and P. S. Koga. 1995. Utilization of phosphorous and farmyard manure in garlic cultivation. Horticultura Brasileira 13:196-199.

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