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Wild Leek

Allium ampeloprasum

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

Just one locality on Ynys Mon (Anglesey) in North Wales and on a couple of islands in the Severn Estuary, two other forms of wild leek (var. bulbifera and var. babingtonii) are distributed around the coast of the British Isles.

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 late June to August

A wild leek flower head

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…

  • The Wild Leek is the Wild crop relative of our cultivated leek but looks more like Elephant Garlic than the green and white leek you would recognise.
  • The leek is one of the two national plants of Wales – the story goes that King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers (the Cymry) to identify themselves in an ancient battle against the Saxons by wearing a leek on their helmet.
  • Wild leeks were probably introduced to Wales from the Eastern Mediterranean as early as the bronze age but are unfortunately now Classed as Vulnerable to extinction on the Welsh Red List of Plants. Plantlife supports a project to ensure that the Wild Leek is protected at its only site in Wales.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum