15 April 2011

Wild for wild leeks

Yesterday, I noticed green sprouts peeking through the leaf litter all over the open forest. Today on my walk, they were much larger and I was very happy to discover that they are wild leeks. It's easy to tell because the leaves smell and taste like garlic scapes, except fresher and even more delicious. The entire plant is edible and the bulb is much like a garlic clove.

Some of the plants flower later in the summer and their seeds are a bright shiny black. The plants with flowers are best left to grow on, because, as with so many spring ephemerals, there aren't any flowers until the root is several years old. Wild leeks are considered threatened in Quebec because of excessive harvesting and there are strict limits on the amounts one can pick there. Ontario has no such restrictions that I know of and some of the over-picking has apparently spilled over the border into eastern Ontario. I will pick some wild leeks, but I know that I wil be the only picker on my property and I will follow sustainable picking practices. Unfortunately, even folks who pick a small percentage of wild leeks in a given area can still contribute to a problem if there are other pickers doing likewise.

I will be spending some time finding recipes for wild leeks in preparation for harvesting some in a few weeks. This is our first spring on this property and this is a very pleasant discovery!


  1. Lucky you! Apparently I am not out in the middle of nowhere b/c I cannot find them despite hours of looking.

    And lucky you that you get to make a sampling of recipes too, Bev. I made the most divine potato salad with them once; lots of olive oil, small potatoes, some garlic...maybe a pinch of mustard. Anyway you can't go wrong with anything in the onion family of course.

  2. I can hardly imagine enjoying them more than I do when I just eat a leaf while walking, but your potato salad sounds wonderful.

  3. I went looking today for leeks with no luck I came home and went out to my flower bed that sits at the back of my house as Im in the country and lord and behold I have thousands cant wait to make my salad tonight

  4. Wow I am in Ontario and my cows must get the leek before I do because I have never seen them. I will have to go looking behind the fences. B

  5. They are all over the woods here, but just on the ridge, where it's not too wet and mostly hardwoods. They have such a strong flavour, I imagine your cows having pre-seasoned meat! (If they are dairy cows, I'm pretty sure you would notice if they were eating leeks)



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