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Three-Cornered Leek

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

An invasive species brought over to the UK from the Mediterranean, it is an offence under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales to plant or otherwise cause to grow this species in the wild.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Three-Cornered Leek, Snowbell
Scientific Name Allium triquetrum
Season Start Feb
Season End Oct
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Long, thin and green which if looked at in profile is a very shallow ‘V’ shape. The leaf here is showing the underside.

Flowers

Hanging in clusters very much like a white bluebells with six petals, each with a green stripe, and flowers from April to June.

Flower Buds

A lanceolate sheath covering the unopened flower.

Stem

The flower stem is like the leaves but more triangular in profile than the leaves, hence the common name, Three-Cornered Leek.

Habitat

Hedgerows, verges, woodland edges, field edges, waste ground and peoples flower beds.

Possible Confusion

Few-Flowered Garlic, pictured, is very similar but has plain white petals and develops bulbils after the flowers.
Snowdrops, young bluebells, young daffodils or some lilies but none of these smell of garlic or onion.

Smell

Garlic/oniony.

Taste

A bit like spring onion or baby leeks or chives.

Frequency

Fairly uncommon but prolific where established and spreading fast.

Collecting

All of the plant is edible. The young plants can be uprooted when found in profusion and treated as baby leeks or spring onion, the leaves and flowers can be used in salads or the leaves in soups or stews, the more mature onion like roots can be used as onion or garlic.

Medicinal Uses

All the Alliums are good for high blood pressure in varying degrees.

Other Facts

The juice has been reported as being used as a moth and other insect repellent.

COMMENTS

18 comments for Three-Cornered Leek

  1. Annette says:

    The season dates have been reversed. The season for three-cornered leeks starts in October and ends in March.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Hi Annette, I find it all year round except for Summer in some places, only Spring in others and like you Autumn/Winter in the odd place.

      1. Ellen says:

        Here in New Malden, uk it arrived in April.

  2. mrs maureen patient-saunders says:

    Was wondering what this flower was in my garden. Not had it before. I bought a large bag of wild bird seed last year and they kept throwing out some of the seeds. Now this year I have this plant growing in profusion. It’s very pretty but should I dig it out when not in flower. I don’t really want it to take over the garden.

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      It can be very invasive so I’d keep getting rid of it and eating it if I were you. It will probably come back in some unexpected places anyway.

  3. Sophie says:

    My garden has loads and it’s near impossible to eradicate. Found out it was edible last year and have been eating it ever since – even froze some to use as chives over the window. What a bonus this year with Covid Lockdown!

  4. Nicolette Ramsey says:

    I have a wild bit of garden where the three cornered leek looks great. Now however it’s growing in places I don’t want it. I have tried to dig it out but it seems impossible to get on top of it. I’ve tried weed killer too but it doesn’t want to die. What can I do?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’m afraid it is very hard to get rid of, all you can do is eat as much as you can.

  5. Elliott says:

    I also have been hit by the allium. My attempt get rid of it: – I have made a pond with planks and plastic sheet. Spade dig 15 by 15 by 15cm sods with the plant in the middle. Keep digging the sods and putting them in the pond. Its 4 weeks in and the satellite bulbs (pea size) are still very hard. But I am a persistent person.

  6. Marzie says:

    I am Iranian and the indigenous people have long used this plant along with food. It was interesting to me that you also know this plant.

  7. Happy Gardener says:

    I planted 10 bulbs of this allium about thirty-five years ago under a hedge beside my drive way. They have spread to about 90cm x 60cm and are not really invasive. They have to compete with bluebells and other bulbs, grass and wildflowers so they are probably growing where they should. The flowers are lovely in cream cheese and the leaves is salads and sauces.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      They are a tasty edible but in the correct conditions they can take over large areas. They are on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
      http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preventing-the-release-into-the-wild-of-certain-plants-and-animals-guidance

  8. JC says:

    I can confirm they are next to impossible to get rid of!

    1. Jenny Rowe says:

      Absolutely over run with the stuff here in Bournemouth on near Coy Pond. The air smelled very oniony tonight!

  9. Neil Foreman says:

    I’m overrun with it, I have just spent the day removing what I can and taking quite a lot of top soil with it and I save no doubt it will appear next year! Tiny bulbs everywhere..

  10. Lisa says:

    I see lots down by the Thames here in Chiswick. Is it safe to eat after it’s been drenched daily by the tides?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I’m not really sure I’m afraid, does anybody else know?

  11. Lisa says:

    My garden is over run with it 🙁 I have spent a few weekends during the lockdown sieving the areas and removing the bulbs, back breaking but fingers crossed the hard work will enable me to keep it under control and eventually get rid of it completely or just keep some in a pot where it can’t spread.

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