Species Name: Allium tricocum
Common Name: Wild Leek, Ramps
Zone: 3 to 8
Distribution: Nova Scotia in the north, south northern Georgia
Seed collection: the flower stalks of wild leek emerge from the soil after the leaves have senesced and disappeared, this normally occurs in July-August. The wild leek flowers resemble the mature seed heads of dandelion. The puffy white flowers are rounded on the end of a slender stalk. You will often notice a patch of ground with nothing growing except for the flower stalks of wild leek. These patches were once completely covered with the broad oval leaves of wild leek plants but since then the leaves have dried up and disappeared.
Hundreds of tiny black seeds, similar in appearance to poppy seeds, develop from the flower heads. Harvest the entire seed head.
Seed handling: The seed can stored dry or it can be stratified to enhance and speed up germination. Expose the seed to at least two months of chilling to overcome dormancy. No special care needs to be taken with the seed. You may choose to winnow the chaff from the seed or sift through a screen to separate the seed, or simply store the seed and chaff together.
Germination requirements: Seed that is cold stratified is likely to germinate the first spring. Dry seed may take an additional year to germinate. When planting sprinkle the seed on the surface of the soil do not plant too deep no more than a ¼ inch. When planting in the wild, expose the soil surface, sprinkle a few seeds then press into the soil with your foot.
Wild leeks are easily transplanted to new sitesby digging up the bulbs when dormant and replanting.
Plants in leaf can also be transplanted if care is taken to keep soil on the roots and not damage the leaves too much.
Ecology: Wild leek is usually found on deep moist rich soils. It is one of the earliest plants to emerge in the spring. It can be found in large dense patches. Wild leeks is usually found where sugar maple is the dominant tree and in association with other spring ephemerals such as trillium, false solomon seal and Virginia bluebells. Wild leeks are commonly found on cool shady north and east facing slopes and less so on hotter dryer south and west slopes. But slope does not seem to matter where the ground is level and conditions ideal. Seed of wild leek is easy to collect and to plant in the wild. Seedlings readily emerge from sown seed and it is easy to establish new populations. Wild leek is a valuable addition to the spring plant community.
Wild leek plant in the spring after emerging from the ground.
Leaves senesce in late spring and dissapear after they have stored enough energy in their underground bulb.
Flowers of wild leek emerging and opening up in mid summer.
Leaves have long senesced and dissappeared leaving little evidence of the connection with the flowers.
Black seeds of wild leek in early fall ready for collection.
this page posted January 6th, 2014