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Three-Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum)

  • When is it in season?
    January, February, March, April, December
  • Health Benefits
    Iron, Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K
  • Tastes like...
    Earthy, Fresh, Herbaceous

The Three-Cornered Leek is a member of the Allium family, which includes onions, garlic, and chives. It can be found in woodland areas, along hedgerows and coastlines, and in damp meadows. Its abundance and accessibility make it an attractive option for foragers, as it’s one of the earliest spring greens to emerge. But it has a red card – it’s marked as an invasive species. Once it has a hold, it grows at a rapid pace and can take over a lawn quickly. So if it’s in your garden and you don’t want it to overtake, start pulling it up and chucking it in your salad now!

The Leek Invader

As it grows aggressively, it’s challenging and costly getting it under control. Herbicides are ineffective and impractical, particularly in sensitive natural areas. So if you are enjoying the delights of these mild oniony greens, be very careful not to spread the plant in any new areas. And be aware that it requires long-term, integrated approaches involving community education and ongoing monitoring to keep it under control. It’s an outright pest to most gardeners!

How to ID… Three-Cornered Leek

This perennial herb has distinctive features that make it relatively easy to identify. But be careful, as it does have inedible lookalikes, including the bluebell, which is poisonous. The simplest way to check that it’s not any other spring bulb, is to crush the leaf. The garlic whiff is a clear tell-tale sign! Its long, slender, triangular-shaped leaves are the reason for its common name, “three-cornered leek”. If you snap the leaf in half, you’ll see it has three edges, with a triangular cross-section, which is one ID method. You can also tell it apart from bluebells and snowdrops via its flower, which has a distinct green stripe in the middle of each petal.

Tastes like… Onion and Garlic

It has a more mild and delicate garlic flavour when compared with other members of its Allium family, lending itself to a wide range of dishes, whether it’s salads, soups, stir-fries or sauces. When harvested young and tender, its tender green leaves and pretty flowers add a vibrant, herby freshness to any dish without overpowering it.

It’s also rich in vitamin A and C, as well as iron and potassium, so if you’re seeking a nutrient-dense quick fix salad, this invasive tyrant is a brilliant option!

Not To Be Confused With… Bluebells

The Three-Cornered Leek flower is very much like a white bluebell, with clusters of small, star-shaped flowers at the top of its slender stem. The Bluebell, on the other hand, is a blue-purple colour and hangs in drooping clusters from a single stem. The easiest way to tell them apart is by crushing the leaves to check for that aromatic smell!

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