They're heeere! Wild leeks in Ontario are finally out for the pickin'! Now, these photos were taken two "wild leek seasons" ago, but when I was out turkey hunting on the weekend, I ran smack dab into some of these little beauties! Wild leeks, otherwise known as "ramps'" or perhaps you may be impressed by the Latin term "Allium tricoccum"?! (don't be too blown away with my nature knowledge, I Googled it!)
You will find wild leeks early in the spring (usually late March to early April) growing in patches of hardwood forests. These plants are considered a spring ephemeral and have a short growing season...so ya gotta be quick! Here are my friends, George and Michelle picking a few to take home.
It is important to remember when harvesting wild leeks, to only take a few from each patch. Even though these plants are the first to pop up in the spring, they are actually slow growers. It takes at least two years before the seeds will even germinate! The whole life cycle is about 5-7 years so it is important to leave the majority of the leeks alone to allow them to multiply and only select a few from each patch for harvest.
This particular wild leek has a good sized bulb, which means that the plant is likely at least a few years old on top of the germination period (again...Google!). So, if you find yourself in the middle of grand patch of delicious wild leeks, take only what you need and more importantly, enjoy the fruits of your labour...these onion/garlic flavoured gems are great in salads, excellent added to poultry dressing, soups and stews and fantastic pickled!
Here is a link to an article from "Maclean's" by Jacob Richler, titled "Hands of those wild leeks".