Overview

Brief Summary

Allium ampeloprasum, commonly known as broadleaf or wild leek, is a monocot bulbous perennial native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa (USDA GRIN 2011). (The North American wild leek is a different species—Allium tricoccum.) This species is the progenitor of three cultivated vegetables, namely leek or garden leek (A. porrum), elephant or great-headed garlic (A. ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum), and kurrat (A. kurrat), the Middle-Eastern cultivated leek (Block 2011), which differ in chromosome number but are interfertile. A fourth group, the pearl onion, is also included in this species. (See Wikipedia article in the full entry for a list of other names and varieties.)

The species name is derived from the Greek “ampelo” (vine), and “prason” (leek)—indicating an Allium that grows in vineyards (Block 2011). The Latin word for leek is “porrum,” which is the name assigned by Linnaeus to the cultivated species of leek, and is the root of the French term for it (“poireau”).

A. ampeloprasum does not normally produce bulbs, although in variety ampeloprasum (elephant garlic), it may produce a head of cloves like garlic (A. sativum) but with two sizes of cloves—a bulb of cloves like garlic, surrounded by smaller cloves on the outside or the bulbs may be on short stolons (Brewster 1994).

Horticultural varieties have been selected and developed for different characteristics. In leeks, the leaf bases form long, edible “pseudostems” made of concentric rings of the leaf bases, whereas in the kurrat, the pseudostems are short and the focus is on eating the leaves. Elephant garlic (A. ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is used for the bulb rather than leaves, which typically has a milder flavor than garlic (A. sativum). Although typically with two sizes of cloves, it may produce only a single large clove. This is sometimes confused with the single-bulb cultivar of commerce, but that cultivar, from China, appears more closely related to onion (Allium cepa; Figliuolo and DiStefano 2007). The pearl onion, cultivated primarily in home gardens, is similar to a small leek, but does not have pronounced pseudostem; instead, it produces a cluster of small, almost perfectly round bulbs.

In many Allium species, the flower (often an umbel) produces bulbils, which appear to be small cloves within a bulb. A. ampeloprasum typically does not produce bulbils, although a few varieties may.

Allium ampeloprasum has escaped cultivation in North America and is naturalized in New England and adjacent areas in Canada (eFloras.org 2011), as well as the southeastern states and as far west as Texas, and in California. However, it is not considered particularly invasive, except in Arkansas, where all Allium species are classified as noxious weeds (USDA PLANTS 2011). It is an “environmental weed” in parts of Australia (Groves et al. 2005).

  • Block, E. 2010. Garlic and other Alliums: The lore and the science. Cambridge, UK: Royal Society of Chemistry.
  • Brewster, J.L. 2008. Crop production science in horticulture, Volume 15: Onions and other vegetable Alliums. Wallingford, Oxon, Great Britain: CABI Publishing. 2nd ed.
  • eFloras.org. 2011. “Allium ampeloprasum.” Retrieved 17 October 2011 from http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242101330.
  • Figliuolo, G., and D. DiStefano. 2007. Is single bulb producing garlic Allium sativum or Allium ampeloprasum? Scientia Horticulturae 114 (4): 243–249.
  • Fritsch, R.M., and N. Friesen. 2002. "Chapter 1: Evolution, Domestication, and Taxonomy." In H.D. Rabinowitch and L. Currah, eds. Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. pp. 5–30. ISBN 0-85199-510-1.
  • Groves, R.H., Boden, R. and Lonsdale, W.M. 2005. Jumping the Garden Fence: Invasive Garden Plants in Australia and their environmental and agricultural impacts. CSIRO report prepared for WWF-Australia. WWF-Australia, Sydney. Retrieved 17 October 2011 from http://www.weeds.org.au/docs/jumping_the_garden_fence.pdf
  • USDA GRIN 2011. “Allium ampeloprasum L.” In U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Retrieved 7 October 2011 from http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?2217.
  • USDA Plants 2011. “Allium ampeloprasum.” In U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, PLANTS Database. Retrieved 7 October 2011 from http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ALAM.
  • Wikipedia. 2011. Allium ampeloprasum. See Wikipedia.

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution in Egypt

Oases, Mediterranean region and Sinai.

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Global Distribution

Azores, Canary Islands, western and southern Europe, north Africa, Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Causasus, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.

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introduced; Europe; Asia; n Africa.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Bulbs 1–3+, variable, some with poorly developed bulbs, others ovoid with 1–2 large bulbs and several yellowish to light brown bulbels at base, 0.4–1(–3) × 0.4–1(–1.5) cm; outer coat enclosing 1 or more bulbs, yellowish, membranous; inner coats white to light brown, cells not evident, fibers ± parallel, few. Leaves withering from tips by anthesis, 6–9, sheathing 1/3–1/2 scape; blade solid, flat, channeled, 1–5 cm × 2–20(–30) mm, margins scabrid. Scape persistent, solitary, erect, fistulose, terete, 45–180 cm × 3–7 mm. Umbel persistent, erect, compact, to 500-flowered, few-flowered in variants with bulbils, globose; spathe bracts persistent, 3–5, 2–3-veined, lanceolate, ± equal, apex abruptly narrowed to beak, beak to 10 cm. Flowers urceolate, 4–5.5 mm; tepals erect, white, pink, or dark red, unequal, becoming papery and investing capsule in fruit; outer tepal oblong-lanceolate, margins entire, apex obtuse, sometimes mucronate; inner tepal narrowly ovate to spatulate, margins entire, apex obtuse; stamens equaling perianth or exserted; outer filaments simple, inner with 2 prominent lateral teeth that exceed anther-bearing portion, glabrous; anthers yellow or purple; pollen yellow; ovary crestless; style linear, equaling stamens; stigma capitate, scarcely thickened, unlobed; pedicel 15–50 mm. Seed coat not known.
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Ecology

Habitat

Roadsides and other disturbed areas; 0--100m.
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Fields and former areas of cultivation, vineyards and roadsides, sometimes rocky hillsides, cliffs, coastal beaches.

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Associations

Foodplant / internal feeder
caterpillar of Acrolepiopsis assectella feeds within live stem of Allium porrum

Foodplant / spot causer
Alternaria dematiaceous anamorph of Alternaria porri causes spots on live leaf of Allium porrum

Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Botrytis dematiaceous anamorph of Botryotinia squamosa infects and damages live, white-flecked leaf (esp. towards tip) of Allium porrum
Other: minor host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Botrytis dematiaceous anamorph of Botrytis byssoidea infects and damages live leaf (base) of Allium porrum

Foodplant / spinner
caterpillar of Cacoecimorpha pronubana spins live leaf of Allium porrum
Other: minor host/prey

Fungus / saprobe
concentric acervulus of Colletotrichum coelomycetous anamorph of Colletotrichum circinans is saprobic on dry bulb scale (outer) of Allium porrum

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Delia antiqua feeds within live bulb of Allium porrum

Foodplant / pathogen
Ditylenchus dipsaci infects and damages live, swollen, distorted leaf of Allium porrum

Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Erwinia carotovora infects and damages bulb of Allium porrum

Foodplant / sap sucker
Myzus ascalonicus sucks sap of Allium porrum

Foodplant / sap sucker
Neotoxoptera formosana sucks sap of Allium porrum

Foodplant / pathogen
Onion Yellow Dwarf virus infects and damages yellow, crinkled, flatened, twisted leaf of Allium porrum

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
colony of sporangium of Peronospora destructor infects and damages live Allium porrum

Foodplant / miner
larva of Phytomyza gymnostoma mines leaf of Allium porrum
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
colony of Phytophthora porri infects and damages live leaf of Allium porrum
Remarks: season: (8-)10
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
slit-like uredium of Puccinia porri parasitises live stem of Allium porrum

Foodplant / pathogen
numerous sclerotium of Sclerotium cepivorum infects and damages white mycelial-coated bulb base of Allium porrum
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
adult of Thrips tabaci feeds on live leaf of Allium porrum
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / parasite
elongated streaks or isolated pustules sorus of Urocystis magica parasitises live, swollen or twisted leaf of Allium porrum
Remarks: season: 4-11

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering Apr--Jul.
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Life Expectancy

Perennial.

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Evolution and Systematics

Systematics or Phylogenetics

Hirschegger et al. (2010) undertook a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the section Allium (in subgenus Allium), which includes economically important species such as garlic and leek as well as other polyploid minor crops. They focused in particular on inferring the origins of the several horticultural groups of Allium ampeloprasum.

  • Hirschegger, P., J. Jakše, P. Trontelj, and B. Bohanec. 2010. Origins of Allium ampeloprasum horticultural groups and a molecular phylogeny of the section Allium (Allium: Alliaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 488-497.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Allium ampeloprasum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Allium ampeloprasum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Allium ampeloprasum

Allium ampeloprasum is a member of the onion genus Allium. The wild plant is commonly known as (Broadleaf) Wild Leek - not to be confused with the N. American Allium tricoccum of the same name. Its native range is S. Europe to W. Asia, and seems to have been introduced to Britain by prehistoric people, where its habitat consists of rocky places near the coast in south-west England and Wales.[1][2] It has been differentiated into three cultivated vegetables, namely leek, elephant garlic and kurrat. In tidewater Virginia, the plant is commonly known as the “Yorktown Onion.” [1]

Contents

Synonym

Allium porrum L.

Vernacular names

Allium ampeloprasum comprises several vegetables, of which the most important ones are known as

See also

References

  1. ^ Plants for a Future: Allium ampeloprasum
  2. ^ CHRISTOPHER D. PRESTON, DAVID A. PEARMAN, ALLAN R. HALL (2004) Archaeophytes in Britain Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 145 (3), 257–294 doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2004.00284.x, p. 264
  3. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
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Leek

The leek, Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.), also sometimes known as Allium porrum, is a vegetable which belongs, along with the onion and garlic, to family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Allioideae.[1] Two related vegetables, the elephant garlic and kurrat, are also variant subspecies of Allium ampeloprasum, although different in their uses as food.

The edible part of the leek plant is a bundle of leaf sheaths which is sometimes erroneously called a stem or stalk.

Contents

Form

Rather than forming a tight bulb like the onion, the leek produces a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which are generally blanched by pushing soil around them (trenching). They are often sold as small seedlings in flats which are started off early in greenhouses, to be planted out as weather permits. Once established in the garden, leeks are hardy; many varieties can be left in the ground during the winter to be harvested as needed.

Cultivars

Leek cultivars can be subdivided in several ways, but the most common types are "summer leeks", intended for harvest in the season when planted, and overwintering leeks, meant to be harvested in the spring of the year following planting. Summer leek types are generally smaller than overwintering types; overwintering types are generally more strongly flavoured. Cultivars include 'King Richard' and 'Tadorna Blue'.

Growing

Leeks are easy to grow from seed and tolerate standing in the field for an extended harvest. Leeks usually reach maturity in the autumn months, and they have few pest or disease problems. Leeks can be bunched and harvested early when they are about the size of a finger or pencil, or they can be thinned and allowed to grow to a much larger mature size. Hilling leeks can produce better specimens.

Cuisine

Fresh leek sautéing
Section and root base

Leek has a mild onion-like taste. In its raw state, the vegetable is crunchy and firm. The edible portions of the leek are the white base of the leaves (above the roots and stem base), the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves. One of the most popular uses is for adding flavor to stock. The dark green portion is usually discarded because it has a tough texture, but they can be sauteed or added to stock.[2] A few leaves are sometimes tied with twine and other herbs to form a bouquet garni.

Leek is typically chopped into slices 5–10 mm thick. The slices have a tendency to fall apart, due to the layered structure of the leek. The different ways of preparing the vegetable are:

  • Boiled, which turns it soft and mild in taste. (Care should be taken to chop the vegetable, or else the intact fibers which run the length of the vegetable will tangle into a ball while chewing.)
  • Fried, which leaves it crunchier and preserves the taste.
  • Raw, which can be used in salads, doing especially well when they are the prime ingredient.

Leeks are an ingredient of cock-a-leekie soup, leek and potato soup and vichyssoise, as well as plain leek soup.

Because of their symbolism in Wales (see below), they have come to be used extensively in that country’s cuisine. Elsewhere in Britain, leeks have come back into favour only in the last 50 years or so, having been overlooked for several centuries.[3]

Historical consumption

Dried specimens from archaeological sites in ancient Egypt, as well as wall carvings and drawings, led Zohary and Hopf to conclude the leek was a part of the Egyptian diet from at least the second millennium BCE onwards. They also allude to surviving texts that show it had been also grown in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the second millennium BCE.[4] The leek was the favourite vegetable of the Emperor Nero, who consumed it in soup or in oil, believing it beneficial to the quality of his voice.[5]

Cultural significance

Leeks for sale
Raw leeks, bulb & lower leaves
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy255 kJ (61 kcal)
Carbohydrates14.2 g
- Sugars3.9 g
- Dietary fiber1.8 g
Fat0.3 g
- saturated0.04 g
- monounsaturated0.004 g
- polyunsaturated0.166 g
Protein1.5 g
Water83 g
Vitamin A equiv.83 μg (10%)
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.06 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.03 mg (3%)
Niacin (vit. B3)0.4 mg (3%)
Vitamin B60.233 mg (18%)
Folate (vit. B9)64 μg (16%)
Vitamin B120 μg (0%)
Vitamin C12 mg (14%)
Vitamin E0.92 mg (6%)
Vitamin K47 μg (45%)
Calcium59 mg (6%)
Iron2.1 mg (16%)
Magnesium28 mg (8%)
Phosphorus35 mg (5%)
Potassium180 mg (4%)
Sodium20 mg (1%)
Zinc0.12 mg (1%)
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales, worn along with the daffodil (in Welsh, the daffodil is known as "Peter's leek," Cenhinen Bedr) on St. David’s Day. According to one legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. This story may have been made up by the English poet Michael Drayton, but the leek has been known to be a symbol of Wales for a long time; Shakespeare, for example, refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an “ancient tradition” in Henry V. In the play, Henry tells Fluellen that he is wearing a leek “for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.” The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coins bear the design of a leek in a coronet, representing Wales.

Perhaps the most visible use of the leek, however, is as the cap badge of the Welsh Guards, a regiment within the Household Division of the British Army.

In Romania, the leek is also widely considered a symbol of Oltenia, a historical region in the southwestern part of the country.

Gallery

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Stevens, P.F. (2001 onwards), Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Allioideae, http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/orders/asparagalesweb.htm#Alliaceae
  2. ^ Librarie Larousse, ed. (1984). Larousse Gastronomique: The World's Greatest Cooking Encyclopedia. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited.
  3. ^ Jane Grigson, Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book, (Penguin Books, 1978, ISBN 0-14-046859-5) p 291
  4. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 195.
  5. ^ Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XIX, 33.
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Notes

Comments

Normally the umbel of Allium ampeloprasum has no bulbils, but there are some variants with a few flowers that produce bulbils. The species has been reported as established in New England and adjacent Canada and can be found along roadsides and in other disturbed areas. It is probably conspecific with A. porrum Linnaeus, the leek of commerce. Allium porrum can be distinguished from A. ampeloprasum based on its unique bulb morphology and chemistry from centuries of cultivation and selection.
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