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Wild Leek

Allium ampeloprasum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Alliaceae (Onion)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, parks, seaside, towns, wasteland.

Purple, 6 petals
Large globular lilac, purplish or whitish flowerheads with yellow anthers, up to 10cm wide.
A globular to ovoid capsule containing anything up to 6 seeds, reaching 4mm across.
Long, tightly wrapped, linear leaves.
Smells strongly, like onions or garlic.
Other Names:
Broadleaf Wild Leek, Elephant Garlic, Pearl Onion, Perennial Leek.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Allium ampeloprasum is a species of perennial bulbous plants in the Amaryllidaceae family. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and western Asia. This species is commonly known as wild leek, perennial leek or elephant garlic. It is a hardy, perennial bulb, producing tall, sturdy stems with long, broad leaves and large, globular umbels of white or pinkish flowers in late spring and early summer. The bulbs have a strong garlic-like flavor and are used in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine. The leaves and bulbs are used in soups, stews, and as a seasoning. The plant is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes due to its large and showy flowers. It is tolerant of drought and can be grown in a wide range of soil types, and it is also tolerant of coastal conditions and pollution making it suitable for planting in urban areas.


Wild leek, also known as Allium ampeloprasum, is a perennial plant species that is a member of the Allium genus. It is a wild relative of the cultivated leek, and is found throughout Europe, Asia, and parts of North Africa. The plant has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties.

The leaves of wild leek are long, flat, and green, with a distinct onion-like flavor and aroma. The plant can grow up to 5 feet tall, and produces a large, globe-shaped flower head that is composed of many small, purple flowers. The bulbs of wild leek are large and round, and are also edible.

One of the most popular uses for wild leek is in cooking. The plant's leaves and bulbs can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and salads. Wild leek has a milder flavor than its cultivated cousin, and is often used as a substitute for onions or garlic in recipes.

In addition to its culinary uses, wild leek has also been used for its medicinal properties. The plant contains high levels of sulfur compounds, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Wild leek has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, flu, and digestive problems.

Wild leek is also an important part of many traditional cuisines. In Europe, it is often used in traditional dishes like quiches and stews. In Asia, it is used in dishes like stir-fries and soups. In North Africa, it is often used in tagines and other savory dishes.

Despite its popularity, wild leek can be difficult to find in some areas. The plant is often foraged from the wild, and is not widely cultivated. If you are interested in trying wild leek, your best bet may be to visit a local farmer's market or specialty food store.

Wild leek has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and sore throats. It has also been used as a diuretic, to treat digestive problems, and to promote wound healing.

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, wild leek also has cultural significance in some regions. In Wales, for example, wild leek is a national symbol and is used in traditional dishes like cawl, a hearty soup made with meat and vegetables.

Despite its many benefits, wild leek is not without its drawbacks. The plant can be difficult to cultivate, and its harvesting from the wild can have a negative impact on local ecosystems. It is important to practice sustainable harvesting techniques and to obtain wild leek from reputable sources.

Wild leek is also known by several other common names, including broadleaf wild leek, elephant garlic, and pearl onion. In some regions, it is also referred to as "ramps," which is derived from the Old English word "ramson," meaning wild garlic.

Wild leek is a good source of several essential nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. It is also low in calories and high in dietary fiber, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

Because wild leek is a member of the Allium family, it contains several sulfur compounds that are believed to have numerous health benefits. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, and may help to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, wild leek has also been used for a variety of non-food purposes. In some regions, the plant has been used as a natural insect repellent, and the leaves have been used to make a dye for textiles.

Wild leek has also been used in the production of alcoholic beverages. In some regions, the plant is used to make a traditional alcoholic beverage known as "ramp wine." The wine is made by fermenting wild leek bulbs and sugar, and is said to have a unique flavor and aroma.

The plant's bulbs have also been used to make a type of vinegar known as "ramp vinegar." The vinegar is made by steeping wild leek bulbs in vinegar for several weeks, and is often used in salad dressings and marinades.

Wild leek is often considered a seasonal delicacy, as it is only available for a short period each year. The plant typically grows in the spring and early summer, and is at its peak flavor during this time. Many chefs and food enthusiasts look forward to the arrival of wild leek season each year, and use the plant in a variety of creative and innovative ways.

Despite its many uses, wild leek remains relatively unknown outside of its native regions. However, with its many culinary, medicinal, and cultural benefits, it is a plant that is definitely worth exploring. So why not add some wild leek to your next meal or try your hand at making some ramp wine or ramp vinegar? You may just discover a new favorite ingredient.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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