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Wild Leeks

January 27 2009 at 4:18 PM
Donal O Neill 
from IP address


I found some of these last year sometime in the spring perhaps sometime in February.
They look exactly like normal leeks except they are a bit smaller. I had gone down to the wood for a walk and found them at the bottom a long sloping field by the edge of a stream which goes along the side of the wood. I have also seen them growing along the banks of the canal and well I thought to myself some free leeks great so I picked a few, not to much and put them in my bag and headed home.
When I got home I washed chopped and fried them. Now when I ate a bit from the pan to my surprise they did not taste so much like leeks but were much more spicy and stingy than the usual kind. However I decided they were still edible and gave some to my dad and had some myself.
I soon started to feel some effects they seem to affect my breathing or make me more aware of the whole breathing process. I also I had a slight sense of urgency and also was thinking a bit along the lines of oh no whats going on? I am in trouble! So it was little bit stressful or hairy. The effects did ware off of course after a few hour's much to my relief. My dad however had eaten more than me and he took it upon himself to start washing the car which I have never seen him do and it was actually raining at this point. I would say it gives one a sort sense of immediacy or that my thoughts were running along the lines that I should do or be doing something, some sort of action.
So it was an interesting experience. I cannot remember what I cooked them with at the time (parsley I think)I think however i will be experimenting with them again.
Anyone any thoughts on this?


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Sarah Head

Re: Wild Leeks

January 28 2009, 5:00 PM 

Hi Donal

Could I suggest you go back to the place where you picked the wild leeks in the next couple of weeks and take some clear and detailed photographs of the plant? Could you then either post them here or send them to the Chelsea Physic Garden or to Kew Gardens and have them rigorously identified.

It's always a good idea not to eat wild plants unless you can be 100% sure what they are. Your description of the leeks having hallucinogenic effects makes me very worried about what you might have eaten and the dangers if any children try nibbling the same plant.

Michael Harrison is running some wild food courses down in Cornwall throughout the year. You can find details of his courses at http://www.countrylovers.co.uk/wfs/index.htm

Best wishes


Donal O' Neill

Re: Wild Leeks

January 28 2009, 8:59 PM 

Dear Sarah

Thanks for the feedback. Yes i will try to photo this plant and post it on the forum. I am browseing for wild leeks now on the web and i can see that what i picked was proberbly NOT wild leek or "ramps".
Maybe they are some kind of lilly ? It is very interesting to see what leeks are related to. At the time to me they looked like leeks perhaps they will show some other signs at another time of year.
I think the likely hood of any children picking them is very slim and i supose i myself would do better with a bit of cinnamon or oranage!
That is a quite interesting link it would be amazeing to go to Cornwall sometime. I am new to all this really and am looking foward to makeing some elderflower wine or some such.




Re: Wild Leeks

January 29 2009, 9:29 AM 

Hi Donal,

Wild Leek (Allium ampelpoprasum) is not to be confused with the America (Allium tricocca) which gets called Wild Leek but is in actual fact the Wood Leek. I think I can safely say that what you ate was definitely not a wild leek, as all the leek family have a mild onion taste and aroma. At least the ones I know about, I'm not an expert and there could be some of the leek family I don't know. In fact as leeks are all part of the Alliaceae family (once thought to be part of the lily family), that's a pretty safe bet.
Would you mind telling me where you live or the first half of your postcode? I ask because using the Postcode Plants Database run by the Natural History Museum (www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/plants-fungi/postcode-plants/) we can discover what plants grow locally to you and narrow it down from there.

I've written a few articles about obtaining edibles from the wild and I always say that you should take a good field guide book with you, and when using your field guide ALWAYS make sure you know exactly what you're picking and NEVER pick anything if you're not 110% certain what the plant is. If you're not sure take a picture and make sure you correctly identify a plant before you ingest it. I don't want to sound like a mother hen, but what you ate caused some worrying side effects, but they could have been so much worse! Never assume what a plant before you eat it, make sure you know! There are so many look a likes in the plant kingdom and the looks a likes are the ones that invariably have the toxic or poisonous side effects that it just isn't worth taking the risk. The Umbillifer family springs to mind with the poisonous Hemlock (Conium maculatum) looking like so much like Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) to the untrained eye.

On most of the listings for leek on the Plants for a Future website it says "Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible" It doesnt mention the side effects you and your father experienced.

If you can send in a photo or post it on here that would be useful and will help us try to identify what you actually ate. If you cant figure how to get the photo onto the forum, email it to me and Ill add it for you.


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