wild leek

(Allium tricoccum)

Conservation Status
wild leek
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Wild leek is a 4 to 12 tall, erect, perennial, forb rising from 2 to 6 clustered bulbs. All parts of the plant, including the flower, have a strong onion odor.

The bulbs are to 2 tall and to 1 wide, but usually more than 1½ tall and more than ¾ wide. They are egg-shaped to cone-shaped. They are encased in a brownish or grayish membranous coating.

Two to three basal leaves arise tightly rolled together at the soil surface. Later they spread, forming a basal rosette. They are 8 to 12 long, 1 to 3 wide, solid, flat, and untoothed. They are either lance-shaped, tapering to a point at the tip and tapering gradually to the stalk at the base, to narrowly oval, widest at the middle and narrower at the two equal ends. They are on ¾ to 2 long, distinct, slender, reddish leaf stalks. The leaves die back before the flower is fully expanded and functioning.

A single, leafless, hairless, round flowering stem (scape) rises 10 to 14 from the center of the rosette of leaves. It is curved or bent slightly toward the top, somewhat zigzagged.

The inflorescence is a single umbrella-like flowering cluster (umbel) at the top of the scape. The cluster is 1¼ in diameter, erect, and shaped like half of a sphere. It has 30 to 50 flowers and no bulblets. There are two large bracts (spathe), ½ to 1 long, at the base of the cluster. The spathe surrounds and enclose the cluster and is split on one side. It does not fall off but remains even as the fruits develop.

The flowers are ¼ long and bell-shaped. They are composed of 6 white to cream tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals that are similar in appearance). The tepals are erect and have blunt tips. They remain on the plant even as the fruit develops. They are on to ¾ long flower stalks, the inner ones on shorter stalks, the outer ones on longer stalks, like an umbrella.

The fruits form a small ball-like cluster at the top of the stem. The fruit is a shiny 3-celled seed capsule, each cell containing 1 seed (the scientific name tricoccum is Latin for three-seeded).




4 to 12


Flower Color


White to cream


Similar Species


This species is distinguished from other Allium species by the leaves that disappear by flowering time. The leaves are also wider than those of any other Allium species in Minnesota.

Narrow-leaved wild leek (Allium burdickii), as its common name indicates, has narrower leaves, ¾ to 1¼ wide. They are nearly stalkless or on much shorter leaf stalks, and the stalks are green, not reddish. The bulbs are shorter, ¾ to 1½ tall. The scape is much shorter, 5 to 6¼ tall. The spathe bracts are smaller, to ¾ long. The umbel has 12 to 18 individual flowers.

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) has similar leaves but they are shorter, 6 to 9, and much wider, 1 to 5 wide. The inflorescence is a loose, elongated clusted of nodding flowers.


Moist. Rich woods. Dappled sunlight.




May to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  


Asparagales (agaves, orchids, irises, and allies)  


Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis, onions, and allies)  
  Subfamily Allioideae  
  Tribe Allieae  


Allium (onion)  
  Subgenus Anguinum  
  Section Anguinum  



Allium pictum

Allium tricoccum var. tricoccum

Allium triflorum

Ophioscorodon tricoccum

Validallium tricoccum


Common Names




small white leek

wild leek

wild onion

wood leek












Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



Drawn out, lengthened.



An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



One or two large bracts that subtend, hood, or sometimes envelope a flower or flower cluster, as with a Jack-in-the-pulpit.



Refers to both the petals and the sepals of a flower when they are similar in appearance and difficult to tell apart. Tepals are common in lilies and tulips.



A flat-topped or convex umbrella-shaped cluster of flowers or buds arising from more or less a single point.

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Small White Leek (Allium tricoccum)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Small White Leek (Allium tricoccum)  
Allium tricoccum (Wild Leek)
Allen Chartier
  Allium tricoccum (Wild Leek)  



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Other Videos
  What are Ramps? (Allium tricoccum)
Forest Farming

Published on Jul 1, 2013

Spring is the time to harvest ramps, a popular forest vegetable in the eastern United States. This savory plant is a member of the onion family closely related to leeks. In early spring, ramps send up smooth, broad, lily-of-the-valley like leaves that disappear by summer before the white flowers appear. The whole plant is edible and has a garlic-like aroma and is usually three or more years old when harvested.

  Life Cycle of a Ramp (Allium tricoccum)
Forest Farming

Published on Jul 1, 2013

In this video we review the stages of a ramp's reproduction and life cycle. Ramps have a very short window in which to store up carbohydrates for the year. In the spring, before the forest canopy grows thick and blocks out light reaching the forest floor, ramps must soak up the sun and store the carbohydrates in their roots.

  Wild Leek (Ramps) - Allium tricoccum

Uploaded on Dec 28, 2009

http://www.prairiemoon.com - Wild Leeks, often called Ramps, are highly desirable by Forager's in early spring because they are edible. Watch as Steve, Senior Ecologist at Prairie Moon Nursery, points out a native woodland setting where Wild Leeks grow.

  Ramps or wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) video

Uploaded on Jan 9, 2010

L'Ail des bois du printemps à l'automne. Ajo de monte de la primavera hasta el otoño. Wild Garlic from spring to fall.

  03 Allium tricoccum Séquence 5-Vivaces printanières 1.m4v
Jean Désorcy

Uploaded on Jan 9, 2010

L'Ail des bois du printemps à l'automne. Ajo de monte de la primavera hasta el otoño. Wild Garlic from spring to fall.






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