I can't seem to find the word that refers to this:

What is this called?

I usually end up saying "bunch of garlic" and have to explain "the garlic bunch before you peel the cloves apart".

What is it called?

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    When I was young I had an Agatha Christie jigsaw puzzle and "whodunnit" book set. The book detailed a murder most foul and you had to deduce who the killer was. The vital clue was in the solved jigsaw puzzle. The clue was that the killer had two heads of garlic sitting in a bowl instead of the two cloves the recipe called for, therefore he couldn't have been a trained chef, which eliminated one of the two suspects. – Optimal Cynic Jul 5 '11 at 18:31

This question is already amply answered, but just for those who are more visually-oriented:

A clove of garlic
alt text

A head/bulb of garlic
alt text

A string of garlic
alt text

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    +1 I wish I could give you more rep for your Garlic Gallery... – CJM Dec 16 '10 at 12:48
  • @CJM, thanks. gim FTW :) – Benjol Dec 16 '10 at 13:09
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    great visual answer – IAdapter Jan 6 '11 at 12:12

A head of garlic is the usual term. Bulb of garlic is also sometimes used, but not usually in a culinary sense.

  • +1 I wholeheartedly agree. head proved elusive as I groped to recall the answer. bulb is certainly rarely used in everyday language but more in scientific contexts. Your answer is particularly fitting in the OP's context. – Jimi Oke Dec 16 '10 at 5:31
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    I use 'bulb', and only in a culinary sense (beyond warding off vampires what else is there?), but then again, that would explain a lot about my cooking - it is rather 'agricultural'! – CJM Dec 16 '10 at 12:49
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    I’ve always used bulb for garlic in the culinary setting! Could this a BrE/AmE thing? (I’m BrE; it looks from his/her profile like @CJM is a Brit too; whereas @nohat and @Jimi are both AmE speakers, right?) – PLL Jan 13 '11 at 5:57
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    I would agree that in AmE, a head of garlic is what you add to a very big batch of tomato sauce, whereas a bulb of garlic is what you plant in your back yard. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 22 '13 at 0:13

Here are some Google NGram graphs showing the relative usages of head vs bulb of garlic:

  1. American

enter image description here

  1. British

enter image description here

  • Cool - very imformative, too! – Ramon Tayag Jul 6 '11 at 11:10
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    The spikes sure are interesting. Why is garlic usage so apparently cyclical in Britain, no matter the term used? And what explains the huge intercontinental surge in the 1990s? I guess this is one for historyofcooking.stackexchange.com.... – mattdm Apr 8 '15 at 15:24

The word you are looking for is bulb. More formally, it is called a "compound bulb" because the cloves themselves are actually bulbs, too. Nevertheless, "bulb" will do just fine. This word is also used in the same context for onions, shallots and other related plants.


Botanically speaking, what is popularly referred to as a head of garlic is actually a corm. Whereas the nutritive tissue is in the leaves in an onion bulb, the leaves of the corm are dry; the nutritive tissue (the part you eat) is in the stem. In fact, both corms and bulbs are underground nutritive stems. The difference lies in the exact location of the nutritive tissue.


Are you talking about a bulb of garlic?


It is referred to as a loaf of garlic by scholars. 35 year culinary experience. Working exclusively with loaves of garlic.

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    Garlic scholars may refer to it as a loaf (I wouldn't know—I've never even contemplated the existence of such a thing as scholars of garlic), but it is most certainly not a term used by anyone else. A loaf of garlic to me (and Google) is a strange shortening of ‘a loaf of garlic bread’. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 22 '13 at 0:11
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    Perhaps it was meant as a pun, @JanusBahsJacquet. Clove of garlic = loaves of garlic? – Mari-Lou A Dec 22 '13 at 0:25

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