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CSE Garlic Collection

Honoring the garlic-growing legacy of Chester Aaron


       Chester Aaron lived in Occidental, where he became a garlic farmer. For more than 40 years, he grew over 60 varieties of garlic from 20 different countries. He is known worldwide for his books on garlic and his efforts in popularizing garlic farming. He was instrumental in expanding what garlic varieties we have access to here in California and the United States. When he died in 2019, we at the Community Seed Exchange thought it would be wonderful to honor his work with garlic by establishing a stewardship program to maintain his legacy for the community. If you are a garlic grower, we hope you'll join us.

      When we know that a variety in our collection came from Chester Aaron, we have indicated that in the variety description. We encourage local growers to let us know if they have sourced any additional varieties listed below from Chester Aaron himself. Preserving that knowledge is almost as important to us as preserving the garlic itself!

CSE Garlic Varieties



Aglio Rosso aka Rosso di Sulmona

(Creole) A unique red garlic with sweet, delicate flavor. Harvests in early to mid summer, stores into spring. From Sulmona in the Abruzzo region of Italy, originally from Seeds of Italy, CSE source Filaree.



(Porcelain) Rich, musky, earthy flavor with a healthy bite. Excellent storage variety — save this one for after the New Year. Glossy white large cloves, easy to peel, with 4-6 good size cloves per bulb. From Hadrut Karabach near the Azerbaijan border, via Chester Aaron.


Bangkok Red

(Turban) Large cloves, beautiful red very thin skins. Can open up and allow dirt in if not harvested on time. Seems to be very closely related or the same as Thai Purple (looked exactly same, flowered same time and were ready to harvest same time).

Blue Ukrainian

(Rocambole) A deep full garlic flavor with a warm rich aftertaste. Excellent variety for raw use. Bulbs are very uniform, white with purple accents. If left in ground too long will lose outer skins and get funky. Not a keeper but easy to peel. Originated from the Ukraine.

Bogatyr (rare)

(Marbled Purple Stripe) Fiery, raw heat. Large dark purple/brown bulbs with 4 or more large cloves. One of the longest storing hardnecks, will store 7 to 9 months. A Chester Aaron variety, originally from Moscow area.


Chesnok Red

(Purple Stripe) Rich sweet flavor when roasted or sautéed, also great raw with medium not overpowering garlic flavor. Produces very large bulbs that average 9 to 10 easy-to-peel cloves. Hardy, stores longer into spring. From Shvelisi in the southern republic of Georgia, grown at our Seed Garden.


China Stripe

(Turban) Bulbs have beautiful purple blush. Mild flavor for a Turban. Early maturing. Purchased in Beijing market and brought to US by G. Czarnecki, our source Filaree.


Cuban Purple aka Rojo de Castro

(Creole) Rich, earthy garlicky flavor, an excellent garlic for raw eating and in pestos and salsas. White bulbs but the cloves are a dark reddish-purple colour. Will store 10-12 months under the right conditions. Each bulb will normally have 8 or more cloves. From Cordoba, Spain via R. Hannan.


Early Portuguese

(Turban) Sweet, mild with little to no heat. Early maturing, harvested mid May before most. Forms 8 solid cloves per bulb. Bulb wrappers lightly purple-striped. From Salt Spring Seeds via Flora Baartz, our source Filaree.


Italian Red

(Porcelain) Robust, complex flavors with a hint of heat; even raw, it is mild, and sauteed/roasted it becomes nutty, buttery, rich and sweet. Lends itself well to being used either raw or cooked and due to a high sugar content caramelizes well. Bulbs have an outer wrapper that is bright white turning lavender-silver in the center of the garlic. 4-6 large cloves per bulb. Good storage variety. There are many varieties of garlic called Italian Red; our source CSE Garlic Swap.



(Turban) Rich, hot garlicky flavor. Purple-striped bulbs sometimes produce single rounds — one giant clove — but average 6 fat easy-to-peel cloves. Early to emerge, very early harvest. From Ashkabad bazaar, Turkmenistan, by J. Swenson; our source Filaree.



(Marbled Purple Stripe) Fiery hot when eaten raw — cooking will tone down the heat, while still keeping big garlic taste. White-wrapped bulbs average 6 bulky easy-to-peel cloves with blushed skin. Plants are upright and exceptionally cold-hardy. Mid season, long-storing.


Nepal (rare)

(Unclassified) This very unusual garlic has 8-16 elongated cloves in two layers (the outer of which has plump cloves) on small to medium white bulbs with light purple streaking. Its sweet flavor builds to a fiery and lingering crescendo. A Chester Aaron variety.

Rose de Lautrec

(Creole) Unique flavor — sharp when raw, subtle and aromatic when cooked. Averages 10 cloves per bulb in two layers, the outer layer having plump cloves. Long storage. Called the “pink garlic”, originated in Lautrec, France; grown at our Seed Garden, our source CSE Garlic Swap.



(Purple Stripe) This clean, medium to strong flavored garlic is purported to have the highest allicin content, the medicinal part of garlic.  Averages 5-7 large cloves per bulb. Stores well for a hardneck. Our source, CSE Garlic Swap.


Thai Purple

(Turban) Moderate to strong heat when eaten raw — cooking mellows to a medium spice. Bulbs have purple blush with poor bulb to stalk connection, average 6-8 cloves per bulb. Clove skin is thin (nice for easy peeling) but dirt gets into the bulbs if not harvested on time. Very early harvest, stores 7-8 months.  Maybe same as Bangkok Red. Originally from Bangkok Market to Salt Springs Seeds to Filaree.



(Turban) Medium strong heat with earthy, musky flavor. Outer bulb skins are dappled with purple and white pinstripes. 8-10 cloves per bulb. Early harvest, stores 6-7 months. A Chester Aaron favorite that he got from SF Chinatown. (There may be several cultivars carrying this name.)

Zaharada (rare)

(Porcelain) From the Czech collection of New York grower Boris Andrst, introduced by Filaree Farm. Ours came directly from a Chester Aaron variety wrongly labeled in past CSE Garlic Swaps as Zharoda.




Inchelium Red

(Artichoke) Mild but lingering flavor which increases during storage. Bulbs over 3 inches possible having four to five clove layers with 8-20 cloves. Vigorous plant, good keeper. Grown at our Seed Garden.


Julius Starr (rare)

(Unclassified) Robust, rich-flavored, exceptionally long-storing. Our source Steve Ehrman.

Nootka Rose

(Silverskin) Bold, robust taste with medium to hot flavor. The cloves have a dark coloration, typically brown with red streaks. Medium-large bulbs yield anywhere from 15-24 cloves each. Late maturing, longer-storing, good braider. A Northwest heirloom popularized by Steve Bensel of Nootka Rose Farm in Waldron, Washington.


Red Toch

(Artichoke) Mild yet complex flavor and unique aroma, excellent especially eaten raw. Large bulbs yield 12-18 cloves streaked with red and pink. Adapted well to summer heat, slow to bolt. Stores over 9 months. Originally from Tochliavri in the Republic of Georgia.



(Artichoke) True garlic flavor that is more flavorful than hot — mellow, good for pickling. Bulbs have beautiful purple skin, average 10-15 cloves per bulb. Stores for 6-9 months. Considered an improved selection of California Early. Probably from Gilroy, California; our source Sara McCamant.


(Artichoke) Lots of heat and a sharp flavor. Large bulbs with dappled patches of crimson yield 10-15 large cloves per bulb. Great producer, early harvest, stores 6-7 months. Good braider. Discovered in a Romanian farmers market, brought to the US by Chester Aaron.

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