Few-Flowered Leek (Allium paradoxum) Identification

Few-Flowered Leek / Spring / Summer / Edible

Identification Guide for Few-Flowered Leek

A non-native, invasive member of the Allium family. Do your bit for nature and eat it πŸ™‚


Common Names

Few-Flowered Leek, Few-Flowered Garlic.


Botanical Name

Allium paradoxum


Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Asparagales

Family – Amaryllidaceae


Physical Characteristics for Few-Flowered Leek

Stems

The flower stem is up to 50cm long and has a triangular-shaped cross-section.


Leaves

Bright green the leaves are long (up to 40cm) and thin.

On the top of the leaf are a long furrow running down the length and a ridge on the underside.

When crushed they smell of garlic.

Allium paradoxum

Flowers

The plant produces just a few tiny, white flowers, hence the common name.

The flowers are quickly replaced by clusters of small bulbils.

AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Roots

The tuber is small and looks very much like a spring onion root.

Katrin Schneider, korina.info – CC-BY-SA-4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Habitat

Native to parts of Asia, it is considered an invasive plant in the UK.

It is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act and as such, it is illegal to plant in the wild but it’s commonly found in damp environments such as river banks, damp woods and hedgerows.

From our experience, we find this one much more often in Scotland.


Known Hazards

None Known.


Could be Confused with…

Other wild Alliums for example the Three-Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum) these are also edible.

They could be confused with other spring-flowering plants such as Bluebells or Daffodils but these all lack the oniony aroma when the leaves are crushed.


Edible Uses

Use it in place of spring onions, it can be eaten raw or cooked but a lot of the pungent taste comes from essential oils and these are destroyed when cooked, so I tend to chuck it in at the last minute.

The bulbils/fruit has been used for making something quite incredible called, garlic caviar, where you salt and pickle them to serve as a garlicy salty pop in replacement of caviar.


Notes on Herbal Uses

Like many members of the Allium family the plant contains organosulfur compounds, which research suggests may be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

They may also be helpful in to preventing chronic conditions including cancer and cardiovascular disease.


Extra notes from the Foragers

Be wary of how invasive this species is, it crowds out some of our native species.

The bulbil contain the seeds so if you are using them be careful how you dispose of them, don’t compost them for example.

Katrin Schneider, korina.info – CC-BY-SA-4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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