Ontario Wildflowers website

Wild Leek
Allium tricoccum

Other common names: Ramps

Family: Amaryllis Family (Amaryllidaceae), (Onion Family (Alliaceae))

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

Similar species:
  •   White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) - leaves are mottled. Flowers same time as leaves are out. Leaves do not smell like onions.

  •   Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) - leaves are mottled. Flowers same time as leaves are out. Leaves do not smell like onions.

  •   Yellow Clintonia (Clintonia borealis) - leaves do not smell like onions. Comes up later in the season.

Flowers: Summer;  White;  6 parts (petals);  The flowers bloom well after the leaves have appeared. In fact, the leaves die off and disappear before the flowers bloom.

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

Height: 30-45 cm (11-17 in)

Stem: Flower stem smooth, without leaves.

Fruit/Seeds: Small, hard, shiny seeds atop a 6-8" stalk, persist into the winter.

Habitat: Forests, Fields and Open Areas;  Forests.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Shade

Uses: 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, the plants aren't Wild Leek.

Edible: The leaves and bulbs are edible. raw or cooked.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 332    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 66    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 59   

Native/Non-native: Native

Notes: Wild Leeks are onion-like plants that grow in the deep woods. The leaves come up in the spring, usually before much of anything else has come up. The flowers only appear after the leaves have mostly died off.
**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 thereatened plant. Once again, greed is spoiling something for everyone.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: tricoccum: three-seeded

Photographs: 261 photographs available, of which 14 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Wild Leek plants form patches in the forest.

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

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

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.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

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 Leek.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Another nice patch of Wild Leek.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

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

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Young shoots in spring. Wild Leek is among the first of spring plants to poke up in the spring.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

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

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

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.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

An umbel of flower buds. There is only one stalk of flowers per plant. The stalk is smooth.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Flowers opening in their umbel at the top of the stalk.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

A closer view of the flowers.

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

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

Wild Leek seeds and dead stalk in winter.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

More dead stalks and seeds in winter.

Range map for Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)