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Plant Description


Allium tricoccum Aiton

En: wild leek, ramps, wood leek, small wild leek
Fr: ail des bois, ail sauvage
Oj: bagwaji-zhigaagawinzh, zhi/agaagawanzh

Amaryllidaceae (Narcissus Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Allium tricoccumhab Allium tricoccumflpl Allium tricoccumlvs Allium tricoccuminf Allium tricoccumfrt


General: A perennial forb, to 4 dm tall, smooth (glabrous), originating from an slender, fleshy white bulb, to 6 cm long; plants spreading by slender rhizomes. Leaves and bulb give off a strong onion scent.

Leaves: Basal, 2 to 3, simple, parallel-veined, withering before the flowers bloom. Leaf blades elliptic to oblanceolate, to 2 dm long and 6 cm wide. Leaf bases tapering (cuneate), narrowing to a slender purplish petiole, apices blunt (obtuse) to pointed (acute), margins entire.

Flowers: Bisexual; the several, small flowers are arranged in a terminal cluster (umbel) at the top of a slender flowering stalk (peduncle), 1.5 to 4 dm tall; each flower is borne on a slender stalk (pedicel). Tepals 6, white; stamens 6, about as long as the single pistil, ovary superior, 3- carpelled. Flowers bloom in mid spring.

Fruit: A cluster of smooth, dry capsules, deeply 3-lobed, with each lobe enclosing a single shiny spherical black seed. Capsules mature in mid to late summer.

Habitat and Range: Rich moist deciduous forests, often associated with other spring ephemerals, such as white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) and yellow trout lily (Erythronium americanum). Wild leeks are native to eastern North America. In Ontario, Allium tricoccum is reported to occur as far north as Batchawana River in the Algoma District (Scoggan 1978).

Internet Images: Allium tricoccum from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

This webpage of Allium tricoccum, from Delaware Wildflowers includes a rare image of the flower bud, with the flowers still enclosed within a reddish, sheathing bract. Note that the leaves are still visible at this time.

Similar Species: Wild garlic, Allium schoenoprasum, has narrow, linear leaves and lacks distinct petioles. The leaves of wild garlic persist through the summer and can be seen during the flowering season. The purple flowers are arranged in tight, many-flowered umbels and the barely-lobed capsules contain several small black seeds. Wild leek is not closely related to the garden leek, Allium porrum, which is of European origin.

written by S.J. Meades
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