Allium tricoccum Ait.

ramps, wild leek

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Wild leek is found in rich, moist forests and high terrace floodplains throughout New England. There are two varieties in our area: the first (var. tricoccum) is common and found in all New England states, while the other (var. burdickii) is rather rare and found only in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Wild leek is one of the most over-harvested wild foods, leading to declines in some areas as several studies have shown. A recent study concluded that a 10% harvest once every ten years is the maximum sustainable harvest. If bulbs are to be harvested, leave behind the base of the bulb (with the attached roots), collect only after the seeds have ripened, and use them to reseed the soil disturbed during harvesting.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), forests, talus and rocky slopes

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade shape
  • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
  • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
Leaf blade length
150–400 mm
Flower petal color
  • white
  • yellow
Flower petal length
4–7 mm
Petal fusion
the perianth parts are separate
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is an umbel (with an axis so short it appears the flowers all originate from the same point)
Ovary position
the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
Fruit type (specific)
the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Axillary bulblets
    there are no bulblets being produced in axils
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Anther color
    the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are bulblets where some or all of the flowers would normally be located
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused (the number of carpels equals the number of locules)
    Filament surface
    the filament surface has no hairs or scales on it
    Flower bract length
    10–30 mm
    Flower bracts
    there are bracts associated with the flower
    Flower number
    6–50
    Flower orientation
    the flowers point upward or spread or curve outward
    Flower petal color
    • white
    • yellow
    Flower petal length
    4–7 mm
    Flower shape
    the flower is bell-shaped
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowering stem width
    2–4 mm
    Form of style
    the style is knob-like at the tip, and unbranched
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has no hairs on it
    Inflorescence hair glands
    the axis of the inflorescence has no hairs on it
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is an umbel (with an axis so short it appears the flowers all originate from the same point)
    Length of flower stalk
    10–25 mm
    Length of peduncle
    120–350 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    3
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals and/or petals
    there are six petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal base
    the petal narrows gradually or does not narrow at the base
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal length
    4–7 mm
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are pressed against the plant, or jutting stiffly upward
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spathe
    • the plant does not have a spathe
    • the plant has a spathe surrounding the flower spike
    Spathe form
    • NA
    • the spathe just wraps around the base of the spike of flowers
    Stamen length
    4–7 mm
    Stamen number
    6
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamen types
    the stamens within a cycle are all similar
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
    Stamens fused outwards
    the stamens are fused to the petals or tepals at or near their bases
    Style petal-like
    the style is not broad and flattened like a petal
    Tepals
    the petals and sepals are similar in size and color
  • Fruits or seeds
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule ridges
    there are three ribs or wings on the capsule
    Fruit compartments
    there are three locules in the fruit
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is round in cross-section
    Fruit stalk orientation
    the fruits point upward or spread or curve outward
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Other markings on berry
    NA
  • Glands or sap
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs, tubers or corms
  • Leaves
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade basal lobes
    the leaf blades do not have basal lobes
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf blade has no noticeable waxy or powdery bloom
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section
    Leaf blade faces
    both surfaces of the leaf blade are exposed
    Leaf blade form
    Fully-formed (i.e., expanded), +/- green leaf blades are found somewhere on the plant
    Leaf blade length
    150–400 mm
    Leaf blade orientation
    the upper surface of the leaf blade faces the stem of the plant
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    15–90 mm
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Leaflet number
    0
    Stipule twining
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on this plant
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • river or stream floodplains
    • talus or rocky slopes
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the leaves smell of onion or garlic
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is held upright
    Flowering stem leaves
    there are no true leaves on the flowering stem
    Stem hairs
    the stem is nearly or completely hairless

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
uncommon (S-rank: S3), special concern (code: SC)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)

var. burdickii

New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
historical (S-rank: SH)

var. tricoccum

New Hampshire
uncommon (S-rank: S3), W (code: W)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (code: C)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Validallium tricoccum (Ait.) Small

Family

Alliaceae

Genus

Allium

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Allium tricoccum Ait. var. tricoccum is the more common form, known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT.A. tricoccum Ait. var. burdickii Hanes is known from ME, NH, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

6.  Allium tricoccum Ait. N

wild leek. 6a. Allium burdickii (Hanes) A.G. Jones; 6b. Validallium tricoccum (Ait.) Small 
• CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Rich, mesic forests and high-terrace floodplain forests. Because bulb size changes throughout the spring, measurements should be performed on individuals 
that lack leaves.

1a.  Bulbs 2–4 (–5) ×1–1.5 cm; leaves not or scarcely petiolate, white at the base, with blades (1.5–) 2–4 (–4.5) cm wide; spathiform bracts 1–2 cm long; umbel with (6–) 12–18 (–24) flowers 
 … 6a. A. tricoccum var. burdickii Hanes

1b.  Bulbs 4–6 ×1.5–3 cm; leaves petiolate, anthocyanic (or not) at the base, with blades (3–) 5–8 cm wide; spathiform bracts 2–3 cm long; umbel with (15–) 30–50 flowers 
 … 6b. A. tricoccum var. tricoccum

Variety burdickii is known from ME, NH, VT. Variety tricoccum is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, 
 RI, VT. The varieties of Allium tricoccum differ morphologically and phenologically (though 
var. burdickii emerges later than var. tricoccum, it flowers ca. 10–20 days earlier at sites 
where the two taxa are sympatric). Variety burdickii is far less common in New England. It 
may deserve species status.