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HomeSurvivalFoodEdible Plants

Wild Leeks

(Allium tricoccum)

 
Other common names: Ramps

Family: Onion Family (Alliaceae)

Distinctive features: Grows from onion-like bulbs. Leaves and bulbs smell like onions.

Similar species:

  • Trout Lily - Leaves are mottled. Flowers same time as leaves are out. Leaves do not smell like onions.
  • Clintonia - Leaves do not smell like onions. Comes up later in the season.

Height: Up to about 8"

Flowers: The flowers bloom well after the leaves have appeared. In fact, the leaves die off and disappear before the flowers bloom. Because of the bloom time of the flowers this is classed as a "summer" plant, although it is one of the first to appear in the spring!

Leaves: Leaves appear well before the flowers. Wild Leeks are among the first plants to come up in the spring.

Stem: Flower stem smooth, without leaves.

Habitat: Forests

Longevity: Annual.

Comments: Wild Leeks are onion-like plants that grow in the deep woods. They come up in the spring, usually before much of anything else has come up.
The leaves and bulbs are edible. Please only collect when abundant, and then only collect scattered patches or individual plants. Ill effects may be experienced by some people if large amounts are eaten. If they don't smell like onions, they aren't Wild Leeks.
**Please note that Wild Leeks have become quite rare in Quebec due to professional pickers denuding the woods of them. Now the same thing is happening in eastern Ontario! Unfortunately, this means that they should probably be protected and treated like a rare or threatened plant. Once again, greed is spoiling something for everyone.

The information on this page has been taken from my Ontario Wildflowers website.

Wild Leeks form patches in the forest.

If you collect them for eating, please only remove a few individuals from each patch.

 

Some individual plants in a small patch.

The leaves are edible, raw or cooked. They can also be frozen or dried and used later in soups and stews.

 

The leaves (and bulbs) smell like onions when bruised or crushed. Always test them  until you get to know this plant. If they don't smell like onions they are not Wild Leeks.

 

 

 

Another nice patch of Wild Leeks.

 

The edible bulbs. These can actually be dug up in the winter under the snow, especially if the ground is frozen.

 

Young shoots in spring. Wild Leeks are among the first plants to poke up in the spring.

 

These plants, sheltered in the sunny lee of a friendly rock, are further along.

 

Flower stalks starting to grow. Note that the leaves are starting to look a little pale - they die off by the time the flowers open.

 

An umbel of flower buds. There is only one stalk of flowers per plant. The stalk is smooth.
 
Flowers opening in their umbel at the top of the stalk.

 

A closer view of the flowers.

The flowers open in early summer. Not all plants bloom.

 

Wild Leek seeds and dead stalk in winter.
 
More dead stalks and seeds in winter.