Three-Cornered Leek - Allium triquetrum

Main features

  • Grows in dappled shade, garden borders, roadsides and waste ground

  • Long thin green leaves with a deep central keel

  • Leaves have parallel veins

  • Strong smell of onions/garlic when crushed

  • White bell-shaped flowers similar to that of a Snowdrop

  • Petals have a definite green vein

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Three-Cornered Leek - Allium triquetrum

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Wild Leek, Three-Corned Garlic, Onion Weed, Triquetrous Leek, Angled Onion

 

Scientific name meaning: Allium is the Latin word for garlic, although its original derivation is unclear. The species name also has Latin roots. It comes from Triquetrus, meaning having three corners, or triangular

Season Late autumn to late spring

Habitat - where will I find it? Three-Cornered Leek can be found in dappled shade, grass verges, waste ground and gardens. It is a native of Southern Europe and has naturalised in the UK. It is a non-native invasive and listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is therefore an offence to introduce this plant to the wild in the UK

Description - what does it look like? Three-Cornered Leek has long thin leave that emerge first. They have parallel veins with a deep central keel.
The flower stalks emerge in springtime and have very angled stems – having three corners. If sliced along the width, a definite triangular shape can be seen. 
The flowers themselves are white and bell-shaped, and strongly resemble the flowers of snowdrops. The flower petals have a marked green vein. 
The entire plant smells of onions/chives/garlic when crushed

Possible lookalikes Bluebells and Snowdrops could be easily confused with Three-Cornered Leek. However, neither of these smell of garlic/onion/chives. 
Could also be confused with Few-Flowered Garlic, which lacks the green vein on its flowers. However, this is also edible

Use as a food All parts of Three-Cornered Leek are edible, so it has a lot of uses in food. However, digging up of the bulb requires the landowner's permission.

The leaves have a garlic/onion flavour and can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used raw in salads or pesto, or fermented. They can also be cooked, but it is best to cook them for as little time as possible as they lose their delicate flavour quickly.

The flower stalks, buds and flowers have a stronger flavour, and can be used raw or cooked. Good uses include pickling and adding to salads, where they are as decorative as tasty.

The seeds can also be used green to pack a garlicky punch to a salad or warm dish, or to make capers with. When the seeds ripen, they can be ground using a spice mill for use as seasoning

Use in herbal medicine Although not having as strong an action, Three-Cornered Leek has similar health benefits to domestic garlic (Allium sativum). It is used for general health promotion, reducing high blood pressure and reducing blood cholesterol.

The bulb is believed to be the most active part.

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Hazards Can be toxic in excessively large amounts. However, it is worth remembering that to companion animals, such as dogs, Three-CorneredLeek can be fatal if consumed

Importance to other species The flowers are visited by various pollinators

Other things to note If you are intending to harvest bulbs from this plant, you must ret the landowner’s permission.

 

Three-Cornered Leek is a non-native invasive and listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is therefore an offence to introduce this plant to the wild in the UK 

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!