Seed Swaps

Garlic confusion

14 Jul 2011
29°C / 84°F

No photos, because I’m lazy that way. But last year I made a concerted effort to sort my garlic and keep track of it and all that. Tonight I picked it all and I’ve got it laying in piles all over the kitchen carefully tracked piles with labels. I’m trying to be super organized and label a couple of heads of each variety for next year’s planting and to keep track of variety to compare flavor on the ones we eat and all that.

I’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. In the midst of my German White garlic which looks exactly like I’d expect (porcelain, large heads, huge cloves), is the most gorgeous pink rocambole I’ve ever laid eyes on. I planted what I thought were 8 german white cloves, but I have 7 german white heads and this pink rocambole. In order for me to confuse them, the inside wrapper must be quite pale so that when viewing just the cloves it looked very like a german white, although the paper on the outside of the head is quite pink.

I planted 3 kinds of rocambole: Killarney Red, Spanish Roja, and German Red. My mystery rocambole, the Killarney Red, and the Spanish Roja were really sneaky and managed to avoid being scaped. The German Red was especially devious and managed not to come up at all. A comparison of the bulbits reveals that Killarney Red and Spanish Roja have deep purple bulbits. My mystery rocambole has very white bulbits. Furthermore, it’s coloration is very different from the Killarney Red and Spanish Roja. They’re in the brown-purple range. The mystery is much pinker.

It was labeled as a German White but it looks nothing like a german white, being a rocambole and not white at all, so I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me. Since it was mixed with the German White, I would assume that it was Killarney Red, since they were purchased at the same time and it was the only Rocambole whose cloves could have gotten mixed in with the German White cloves. But it looks nothing like the Killarney Red’s I’ve got, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. I planted German Red, which is supposed to be a rocambole, but I planted it in a completely different place and all of it died. German Red is the only rocambole in the mix whose appearance is not accounted for. If I’ve eliminated the other possibilities, this is the only option that remains, so I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me. But if all of it was bad, it would be shocking for a single clove to migrate across the garden and do amazingly well. If there were a lone survivor I’d expect it to grow where I planted it and be slightly pathetic at best. So I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you.

So, do I make a wild guess that it’s German Red even though it looks way pinker than the pictures of German Red I have found online and if it were German Red it would obviously have failed to grow like it’s bretheren? Or do I assume it’s just some kind of mutant Killarney Red? Or do I just give it a name and claim it as my own? I suppose I could call it Albanian Pink… Opinions?

edit: just to clarify the question: Is there a reasonable explanation for this? Is it normal for garlic to look really different within varieties? If not, where could the change have come from? Should I assume mutation? Or should I assume there is some marked difference in the soil of the 2 beds, which came from the same placed? etc.






Folia Helper

United States5b


Posted on 15 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)


Posted on 15 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)

TY for the chuckle-
Thumbs up to Ostrya’s comment :)
I think in this situation I’d wonder if perhaps the majority of German Rocamboles were prevented from sprouting by a curious tunneling rodent, maybe a chipmunk who collected them all, hoping theyd be yummy. But then the same rodent discovered they weren’t yummy and discarded them, within the tunneling system.
Then, perhaps, the strongest of the German Rocamboles which is more pink than red- somehow managed to sprout up from the place where it was discarded?
I’d be tempted to name this traveling Rocambole ‘German Pink’.
Or on second thought, might name it ROUS for Rocambole Of Unusual Size.

Posted on 15 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)

TangoFlowers is funny!

Posted on 16 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)


Folia Helper

United States5b

@ostrya: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

@tango: good theory based on given evidence. But no signs of tunneling, and planted exactly where a German white should have been on the grid. Which leads me to lean towards mutant Killarney red. I want to plant it cause it’s cool, I’m just stumped by how to catalog it.

Posted on 16 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)

sounds like a mutation to me – googling on garlic revealed a couple of varieties that were described as arising from natural mutations, so my money is on it being a mutant. Much more exciting to classify it under Albanian pink, than, ‘planting error’.

Posted on 19 Jul 11 (about 8 years ago)

Would you like to add a comment? Sign up for a free account, or log in if you're already a member.



Albany, New York

United States

Previous Journals

Later Journals

? This question is currently listed as unanswered. If you think you may be able to help with this question, leave cristyn a possible answer below.