Wild Leeks




About: I am a photographer, a tinker, an electronics technology engineer, and author; I write short stories and poetry for the love of writing. I started writing poetry in high school over thirty years ago where I ...

I was born on a first nation’s reservation and lived my whole life eating from the wild, although I don’t live on the reservation anymore I have never abandoned the ways of the people.

Wild leeks are an extreme food, they only grow among hard woods they only sprout for a month in the spring, and they can be prepared many ways. You can eat them raw in a salad, you can pickle them for later use, you can cook them and freeze them for later use, you can steam them, boil them in a soup, and you can even fry them. My wife likes it when I go fishing I collect the food clean the food and cook the food and she gets the night off.

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Step 1: Finding and Identifying Wild Leeks

I have been fishing for Freshwater Drum. White Fish and Pike off Georgian Bay lately and after fishing I was checking to see if the Wild Leeks and Fiddle heads were up. This year it has been a mild winter and in a mild winter the wild plants come up early. Wild Leeks grow in hardwood bush and fiddle heads grow in swampy arias. Early in the spring the hardwood forest floor is covered in leaves and moss.

This week the Wild Leeks and several flowering plants are sprouting, they grow in clusters between the hardwood trees and nestled among the roots of the trees.

It is important to identify wild plants correctly; Wild Leeks have a dagger shaped leaves, solid green in color with a red and white stem and a white bulbous end with the roots on the end of the bulb.

Step 2: The Great Pretender

There is another flowering plant that sprouts at the same time as the Wild Leeks and can be confused with Wild Leeks. It grows in clusters like the leeks. They have a dagger shaped leaf with green in color with red blotches a red and white stem a white bulbous end with the roots on the end of the bulb. Other than the red blotches the description is the same.

Here is the leaf of this flowering plant next to a leek leaf, see how it has red blotches on the leaf compared to the leeks with solid green leaves.

Step 3: Collecting

There is an old saying amongst aboriginal peoples, “Take what you need and use what you take.”

With a shovel or a pitchfork I dig up the leeks and shake off as much of the dirt as I can.  Most of the time when you dig up the Wild Leeks there matted roots hold them together in a small bunch.

Step 4: Cleaning

Once I have gathered all the leeks that I can use and take them home I clean them. I start by breaking off the matted roots and throwing the roots in my compost bucket.

After I remove the roots, I wash the dirt and dead skin off the leaves and bulb with cold water and place them in a bowel.

At this point it is time to decide how to have the Wild Leeks they can be chopped up or used whole raw in a salad, or they can be cooked. Raw Wild Leeks are hot about half way between Onions and Garlic with a mild raw Garlic flavor. They are really good with your favorite dressing and go good on a sandwich like a BLT or a Sub.

Step 5: Cooking

I could eat them raw in a salad, I can pickle them for later use, or I can cook them and freeze them for later use. However I am going cut them in half and boil them like turnip greens, smother them in butter and have them with the fish I caught. As the leeks cook they soften and the leeks above the water fall below the surface.

Step 6: Dinner Is Ready

I cooked this Freshwater Drum with my Spicy Fried Fish recipe, made chicken flavored rice and added my cooked Wild Leeks smothered in butter. The Wild Leeks soften when they cook so they look much smaller on the plate than in the bowl or pot. It’s is a shame Wild Rice doesn’t grow around where I live or I would have had a meal completely from the forest.

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    20 Discussions


    2 years ago

    yes, there is another similar plant - it's the lilly of the valley which has poisonous properties so you should be really careful!

    1 reply
    Josehf Murchisontreii28

    Reply 2 years ago

    The leaves are similar but it ends there.

    Lilly of the Valley has rhizomes, Wild Leeks don't have rhizomes they reproduce by seeds only.

    The flower when Wild Leeks have one is different from the Lilly of the Valley and the leaves die when the leek blossoms.

    The fruit when Wild Leeks have one is different from the Lilly of the Valley.

    Lilly of the Valley is up from spring to fall, Wild Leeks are only up in the spring for two weeks.

    Wild Leeks stink Lilly of the Valley smells nice.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I will definitely be searching for these next spring! I already eat mushrooms, fiddleheads, wild carrots, various greens and lovely wild black raspberries when I'm lucky and now I hope to add this to the list of free food I can find!

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    You may also find krinkly root (a toothwort) in the same area.. nice as a spice..peppery.

    Just remember they grow in mixed or hardwood bush not a coniferous bush.

    They have a garlic flavor and smell not as hot as garlic.



    4 years ago

    Please remember leeks are slow to mature and multiply! Only take a few from each clump and then only large ones.. otherwise their new popularity may lead to their demise!

    quite interesting :D

    i too love finding wild foods, growing up in the Australian bush i can recognize quite a few, as long as you keep your eyes open theres a wonderful array of wild foods out there!
    so long as you make sure to correctly identify it before eating it!

    2 replies

    I gather fiddle heads, wild leeks, mushrooms, berries, fruit, and wild rice when I can.

    This does not count the fish and other wild game I eat.

    In the past I went to Texas twice a week for my work, while I was there I would walk in the desert picking and eating the wild cactus fruit.

    In Ontario the only cactus that grows here is Peyote you can eat it if you want to see pretty pictures it is a hallucinogenic.

    Do you have edible cactus down under?

    wow interesting!

    not that i know of, but i live in the mountains on the east coast so maybe out west they do!

    here i can pick Macadamia nuts (delicious but near impossible to crack open)
    lilly pillys ( a sour but tangy native berry) a species of rush called matt rush (tastes like boiled greens and golden syrup) sandpaper figs, yams, etc

    i also catch native fish when i can :D


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Sweet Instructable. Love wild foods!

    I used to live in Yonkers, NY and in the spring you can gather bushels of these from the parks. Nice memories.

    3 replies
    Josehf MurchisonCrLz

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yonkers, NY I delivered a few loads out that way.
    we should get a list of places people have picked Wild leeks as a sourse of survival food Im going to do an instructable on fiddle heads when they come up.

    CrLzJosehf Murchison

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've too have been thinking about a fiddle heads ible! If you publish it, I have some photos, comments, etc. I can share. I just moved to Kauai last summer and here there is a wild fern that is edible (~indigenous fiddle head). Maybe I can post a recipe with that particular variety after you post yours.

    Love wild foods, though. In NYC there is "Wildman" Steve Brill, who has educational hikes around the area.

    I got started on wild foods foraging for asparagus with my mom as a kid.  Read Euell Gibbons's book Stalking the Wild Asparagus and have been interested ever since.  Even did some mushroom foraging.  All good stuff.

    Looking forward to your next Instructable!

    fiddle heads.JPG
    Josehf MurchisonCrLz

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    nice pic of fiddle heads we could do a corlabration, I lost all my Picks of fiddle heads last year with the hacking of my computer.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for the instructable!

    Have yet to taste wild leek, also called ramps, but it is not going to stay that way.

    Plan on buying some at a charity plant sale, and hopefully grow my own patch. Try online sources for garden plants/seeds if your locale nursery does not have them available.

    Local food coops and natural food stores like trader joe's might carry them when in season. Simply plant the bulb and cook the leaves.

    2 replies

    New Brighton is that in Calgary AB. or the US.? The reason I ask is there is a number of New Brighton’s and I didn’t recognise Trader Joe's, I goggled them and they have stores in Canada and the US. Also in Ontario the MNR and the OFA are very strict about what can be cultivated or harvested from the wild.

    I have collected the seeds of Wild Leeks in southern Ontario I think they don’t like the sun; they grow under Maples Popular and Birch so they only get sun for a week before the trees blossom. They take a couple years to grow to a good size from a seed and I didn’t have a lot of success in trying to cultivate them.

    That is bad for a guy that sharecropped Garlic and developed my own hybrid of garlic, had to destroy them they were classed as a monster plant. They were a lot like Purple loosestrife and were very hard to kill in a field.

    New Brighton Minnesota. - or Minneapolis St Paul region.

    Wild Leeks like moist shady woods, but since they emerge before the trees are fully leaved, partial sun is fine.

    I gotten lots of native plants from a distant neighbor last season, and I think I might have some growing in my garden now. ... I know I have nodding onion; which is edible. Will have to wait and see for now. I finally got some metal plant markers, so I won't have to keep guessing what is what.

    There is an expensive online site that sells and ships wild foods like wild leeks and fiddle heads... perhaps useful for a chef restaurant, but the prices are out of my league. Its called Marx Foods.

    Seems Amazon and other places sell wild leek seeds. Thanks for the heads up on the difficult germination.

    Will have to update folks when I eventually do taste them. I know I like my perennial garlic chives, which is often too garlicky for Western palate.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't know leeks grew in the wild, maybe next time I go mushroom hunting, I could go look for them. It is quite interesting. Where do you normally find them, like what area? I live in northern Illinois next to a forest and in the winter there wasn't much snow(until a huge snowstorm hit in February). Right now it is mostly cold. Do you think leeks can grow where I live?

    1 reply

    It’s best to go with someone that has hunted for Leeks before.
    They grow in hardwoods step 1 tells you where and when they grow in a forest.
    I know the city of Chicago was named after wild leeks (Smelly Place)