Spring has arrived when you see the green leaves of the wild leek rising above the cold ground floor of the woods. Leeks are a wonderful addition to a woodland garden. The long emerald green leaves are about 1.5 inches wide at the widest point, and about 5 inches long. The leaves take advantage of the spring sunshine before leaves appear on the trees. Wild leek is a member of the onion family and grows from a bulb. The bulb is thinner than most onions. The leaves die back and go dormant in early summer.
The flower's stalk emerges in late June or early July here in Western New York. The stem is leafless and the blossoms are a greenish white umbel of 20 - 40 flowers. It is really quite a curiosity. Walking along in the woods you notice this flower stem with no leaves but a semi circular flower head that is about 1.5 inches in diameter. The flowers are pollinated by a number of native bees and flies. The seed heads remain into the fall and the seeds are shiny and black and are beautiful in their own right.
Wild leek is used by many people as a spring treat. A ham and leek dinner occurs in at least one nearby town. Leeks taste like a mixture of onion and garlic. Please be careful if you choose to harvest them and do not over harvest an area. Make sure you have the owner's permission before removing any plants from land that is not your own.
Wild leek is a good plant to put into an edge of the woodland garden with spring flowering plants. It gives texture in the spring and provides interest in the summer.
Allium tricoccum - Wild leek
-Early Spring leaves
-Shiny seed heads
-Height: 8 to 10 inches
-Zone: 3 to 9