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Broad-leaved Leek

Allium nigrum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Gardens, parks, wasteland.

White, 6 petals
Creamy white (sometimes tinged pink) star-shaped flowers which appear in rounded umbels, up to 10cm wide. Each flower is up to 1cm across in diameter.
The fruit is a capsule.
A bulbous perennial which rarely appears in the wild (UK). The greyish-green leaves are flat and strap-shaped (up to 60cm long).
Smells like onion or garlic.
Other Names:
Black Garlic, Black Onion, Broadleaf Garlic, Broad-leaved Onion, Flowering Onion, White Garlic.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Allium nigrum, also known as black garlic or black onion, is a species of flowering plant in the Amaryllidaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. The plant has a round, bulbous base and produces clusters of small, star-shaped, blackish-purple flowers on tall, slender stems that can reach up to 60 cm in height. The flowers are produced in late spring to early summer. The plant has a strong onion-like smell. The plant is a hardy perennial and can be grown in most soils in full sun or partial shade. It is tolerant of drought and is deer resistant. The plant is also popular as a cut flower and as a dried flower. It is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. The black color of the flowers gives it a unique and interesting appearance and makes it stand out among other alliums.


Broad-leaved leek, also known as Allium nigrum, is a species of bulbous plant that belongs to the Allium genus in the Amaryllidaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region but has become naturalized in many other parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Asia. The plant has a long history of use in culinary and medicinal applications.

Appearance and Habitat

Broad-leaved leek is a perennial plant that grows up to 60 cm tall. It has a cluster of small, white flowers that bloom in the summer, and its leaves are broad, flat, and strap-like, growing up to 1.5 cm wide. The plant's bulbs are egg-shaped, up to 3 cm in diameter, and covered in a thin, papery layer.

Broad-leaved leek grows in a variety of habitats, including rocky and sandy coastal areas, dry meadows, and woodland edges. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade.

Culinary Uses

Broad-leaved leek has a mild onion-like flavor and is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Its leaves, bulbs, and flowers can all be used in cooking. The bulbs can be pickled or roasted and used as a condiment, while the leaves can be used raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews, and sauces. The flowers can also be used as a garnish.

Medicinal Uses

Broad-leaved leek has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It is believed to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and wounds.

Recent research has shown that broad-leaved leek contains compounds that may have potential therapeutic benefits. For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that an extract of broad-leaved leek had significant antifungal activity against several species of fungi.


Broad-leaved leek is easy to cultivate and can be grown from seed or by dividing existing clumps. The bulbs should be planted in the fall, around 5 cm deep and 10 cm apart. They prefer well-drained soil and should be watered regularly during the growing season. The plant will die back in the winter and reemerge in the spring.

More Information

Broad-leaved leek is also known for its ornamental value. Its attractive flowers and broad leaves make it a popular choice for gardens and borders. The plant is also attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a great addition to any pollinator garden.

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, broad-leaved leek has also been used for a variety of other purposes throughout history. For example, the ancient Greeks used the plant to make garlands for athletic events, and it has been used as a dye plant and a natural insect repellent.

One potential concern with broad-leaved leek is its invasiveness. It has been introduced to many parts of the world where it is not native and can become invasive, outcompeting native plant species. As such, it is important to be mindful of its potential to spread and to avoid planting it in areas where it could become a problem.

Broad-leaved leek has several other common names, including white garlic, black garlic, and broadleaf garlic. It is also sometimes referred to as Mediterranean garlic, as it is native to the Mediterranean region.

The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. In ancient Greece, it was used to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and snakebites. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed to have cooling and detoxifying properties and is used to treat fever, sore throat, and other conditions.

Broad-leaved leek is a hardy plant that can withstand a range of growing conditions. It is tolerant of drought and can be grown in rocky, sandy, or poor soil. It is also resistant to many common pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance plant for the garden.

Overall, broad-leaved leek is a fascinating and useful plant with a rich history and many potential applications. Whether you are interested in its culinary, medicinal, or ornamental value, it is a plant worth exploring and incorporating into your garden and kitchen. With proper care and management, it can be a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.