Around here, Allium tricoccum are known simply as "leeks". Not to be confused with the leeks you'd buy at the market, which are Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum... an entirely different species! Super exciting trivia-- did you know that Chicago apparently is named after wild leeks? For real.
This map shows where wild leeks occur, though in my experience it seems that their fame really varies depending on the locality and how much the locals like to eat them. Around here, they can grow in abundance in their favored micro-climates, and some people are really into them (much to the dismay of family, friends, and co-workers!). Locally there is even a festival for leeks. Stinkfest (honestly, this should be an indicator of how far I live from modern entertainment. Not that I mind). Which leads me to the smell.
Wild leeks taste like a complex blend between a green onion and garlic. All parts are edible and vary in their strength depending on growing conditions, age, size, and what part of the leek you are eating. They are delightful.
They also really make you smell.
Have you ever scented someone after a lovely, garlic-ridden meal? Ahh, the bouquet.
Sit back and close your eyes. Bring the scentful memory back to your thoughts. Hmm. Lovely, no?
Amplify this by twelve (at least) and you have an idea of what a leek-loving person smells like for days afterward. My father tells stories about how, back in 'his day', classroom sizes were small and child numbers few, and if a kid came in smelling like leeks they got sent right back home again for the day. I don't know if this is true or not, but as a kid it sure did encourage me to eat more leeks. I never got sent home, though.
|The Valley. Of the Leeks.|
|The boys (husband/dad) treading carefully through leeks|
Along with the leeks are other delightful spring plants. I wish I was clever enough to know all of their names, but I do not. Here are a few that I found today, though.
|White Hepatica, Anemone acutiloba. I also found blue and pink varieties.|
|My favorite- Purple Trillium, Trillium erectum.|
Now I have to look forward to cleaning leeks for many, many hours. Some will be served fresh, while the rest will be frozen to as a far, far more flavorful onion-substitute in my cooking for the next year.
Pardon me, while I stink of leeks.
|Leek leaves, with Hepatica flowers peeking up though. Guest appearance by some mottled Trout Lily leaves.|