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Edible Wild Flowers: Three Cornered Leek/Wild Onion

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Waterford - Wild Onion from the car park!

I always have my eyes peeled and my nose finely tuned to the colours, shapes and scents in country hedgerows. A dangerous occupation when there’s lots of silage and manure about, but, worth it for the times that you get an onion-y whiff, and then glimpse beautiful white flowers that taste somewhere between a spring onion and wild garlic.

I love wild garlic and use it a lot when it’s in season. It’s incredibly pungent (usually), and is something that I cook, or at least blanche before using. Three cornered leek (sometimes called wild onion and officially called Allium triquetrum) is more delicate, and slender, like a feminine version, with slimmer, angular, less shouty leaves and petite flowers. Perfect in salads, the flowers also make a gorgeous garnish.

Glandore

On a walk to the beach in Glandore last week, I turned a corner and hit the most intense onion smell and smiled, knowing that I would be greeted by beautiful white flowers, looking like swanlike snowdrops. They are also common in London, I did a cheeky midnight forage in someones abandoned front garden in Islington recently that was carpeted with these gorgeous elegant blooms.

What to do with them? So much. Perfect in salads or as garnishes, it is worth making a small effort and blitzing the green leaves with some oil and drizzling on potato soup, with some flowers scattered around it. It makes a great pesto, a little less abrasive than one made using ransoms. I find it hard to resist simply eating the flowers on the way home.

 

20 Comments

  1. Not sure but they are pretty… especially next to your pink tights!
    On the foraging course our instructor, Theo, was talking about wild leek with it’s triangular stem shape. I haven’t seen them though!

    • They’re all over London, Kavey and they are delicious! I should have mentioned the triangular stem in my post, wrote it too quckly :)

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Summer in Europe is gorgeous with warm sunshine, dry air and lots of flowers, but this is the first time to know onion flowers are just around the corner. Lovely, but bothering greengrocers?… ;)

  3. I only just realised what they were on a recent walking holiday along the Cornish Coastal path. There were loads of them! Haven’t seen a single one since I got home to Surrey, as I was longing to add them to something delicious.

  4. LittleFfarm Dairy says

    I don’t think there’s a difference. Round here they’re known as ramsons or “craf y geifr”. What I do know is they’re absolutely delicious!

  5. According to Miles Irving in ‘The Forgaer Handbook’ the fewer-flowered variety is called fewer-flowered Allium Paradoxum – and the one you described with several flowers is Allium Triquetrum as you said. Sadly I think it’s rare up here in Birmingham, but very common down in the South.

    Tom.

  6. I’ve noticed them in Shropshire but not in London – will have to keep my eyes peeled as they’d be great in a salad for a bit of a change.

  7. Is wild garlic actually related to bulb garlic or is it a completely different animal? (Well, plant really…. you know what I mean..)
    Great post anyway.

  8. I wonder if there’s any relation between this wild leek and ramps in north eastern America? Either way, I’d love to try to find some!

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  10. Hans says

    This small flowering plant grows invasively in our garden in Palo Alto, California. It blooms now and today I identified it with images on various websites. Our plant tastes somewhat like onion and had to be related to Allium. This clue and the description and images clearly showed it to be Allium triquetrum. I’m delighted to learn that it is edible and will add some cuttings to my salad.

  11. Susane says

    I thought my front garden had been taken over by a weed, and pretty at that.
    My first thought was to eradicate and destroy all signs of the so called “weed” ..
    However, after an identifying search, I now discover I have a super plant/herb that can be used in cooking and also in salads.. ( Three cornered Leek )… Lovely change and a nice gift to give to my unsuspecting visitors..
    .

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  13. natasha ings says

    We have lots of these growing in our garden in the new forest, hampshire – Great now that I know what they are and can eat them! Will be doing so this summer.

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  15. These grow in our local park but was hoping to grow some myself around trees at our allotment – anyone know if / where you can buy seeds?

  16. Love using flowers chive, garlic, herb. Rosemary really adds a wow factor to a risotto.
    I am interested in using Jasmine flowers (Honey and Jasmine Pannacotta with ginger papaya compote) . Any advice welcome. Jasmine flavouring is very strong and not real like the petals. I realise that the white flowers are the ones to use, but would like reassurance from anyone who is in the know (blog links very welcome).

  17. Must preserve some Wild garlic, thinking oil for drizzling on pizza etc. Not long left of the season. Also chopped three corner in your spring greens is pretty cool.

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