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Wild leek

(Allium ampeloprasum )

Wild leek © Andrew Gagg/Plantife

Wild leek © Andrew Gagg/Plantife


A native wild relative of the familiar garden vegetable.

Wild leek has globe-like heads on stems that can grow to a metre tall. Its leaves are just like the common garden leek, although the stem is not quite so fat. All parts have a strong onion scent.

County flower of Cardiff/Caerdydd.

Found wild on Flat Holm island just off the Cardiff coast, what better than the wild leek for representing the nation's capital?

Distribution

Occurs in small populations in south-west England (Cornwall, Somerset) and Wales

Habitat

Sandy and rocky places near the sea, especially in old fields and hedge banks, on sheltered cliff-slopes, by paths and tracks and in drainage ditches and other disturbed places.

Best time to see

Flowers from June to September

Status

Wild Leek is believed to have be en introduced to Britain. It is a scarce species, naturalised in only a few areas.

Did you know...

Used to identify Welsh soldiers in battle against the saxon English, the leek is a familiar emblem of Wales.

Grow Wild info

Preferred site: Sunny

Position in garden : Easily grown in sunny, well drained borders. Particularly effective in coastal situations or as a archectural plant in gravel gardens.

How to plant and when: Plant in well-dug ground in spring, watering young plants well. Once established, Wild Leek is drought tolerant.

Propagation: Seed (sown in early spring in a good loam-based seed compost) or division of the small clumps of plants in spring represent the best means of propagating Wild Leek. The variety babingtonii can easily be increased by planting the bulbils from the flower heads as these mature and fall from the plant: they should be planted straight away, in their final flowering position, approximately 1 inch deep.