Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used throughout its history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Within the species, Allium sativum, there are two main subspecies or varieties. Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon, called Ophioscorodon, or hard necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic, and purple stripe garlics.
It is sometimes considered to be a separate species, Allium ophioscorodon. Allium sativum var. sativum, or soft-necked garlic, includes artichoke garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.