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Garlic Naming Conventions and Potential Confusion

The correct genetic classification of garlic and the naming of garlic are two things that do not necessarily result in a system that makes sense. I'm just going to make a brief effort here to explain some basic naming conventions of garlic, and how they sometimes match up to genetic families, and oftentimes create more confusion.

First, something I've noticed is that for a long time, the only "not softneck" garlics grown as a niche in the North of America were Rocamboles, so many people mistakenly use the word Rocambole for all hardnecks.

Second, many people assume that if "Red" is in the name that it must be a Rocambole variety. Many Rocamboles are Reds but not all Reds are Rocamboles. The red skin coloring in garlic is an expression of abundant iron in the soil. Without iron, even the most ardent Rocamboles will be rather tame in coloration. In rich iron conditions, even usually-white Porcelains will develop a pink blush of color in their papers.

Third, some people get used to "White" garlic meaning Porcelain garlic. However, there are many Artichoke varieties with "White" in the name.

In a general summary, it should be observed that if there's a color in a variety's name, it's not a reliable sign at all of what family it's in. Unfortunately even dedicated farmers and growers will repeat mistakes if they don't know. Varieties also express themselves differently in various soils and climates so even a written description or picture of the plant may not work to identify it sufficiently from similar types.



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