A bulbous perennial plant, the strong scented, pungent-tasting bulb of which is composed of up to twenty smaller bulbs or cloves. The flower stalk of garlic, bearing tiny bulblets and sterile flowers, at times may attain a height of one foot (c. .3 meter) or more.
The indications are that garlic was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt. In the wilderness the mixed crowd and the Israelites longed for the garlic they used to eat there. (Num. 11:4, 5) The Greek historian Herodotus (Book II, sec. 125) tells of an inscription that listed garlic as one of the foods provided for the laborers on a certain pyramid. Garlic is still widely used by the inhabitants of Mediterranean areas. The Jewish Talmud even contains directions specifying the kinds of food to season with it. The cloves, or the oil pressed from them, have been used medicinally as a digestive stimulant, a diuretic or as an antispasmodic.