|Broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) that my lab mate found in Talladega National Forest.|
I was doing some field work in Talladega National Forest and my lab mate spotted a patch of broad-leafed wild leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)*! We improvised some digging sticks to harvest a few, but we were sure to leave some to repopulate the patch. The digging sticks worked pretty well, and unlike shovels, they don't chop bulbs into pieces. They also leave the soil behind so the habitat isn't disturbed as much as it is when using shovels. The leeks were very strong and spicy when raw, but had a pleasant flavor when cooked. None of the leeks had flowers yet, and they appeared to be actively growing, so they should be around for a little while. Readers in more northern states should have plenty of time to find them. However, before you go out harvesting leeks, learn how to identify them.
|My portion of the harvest. We didn't take too many because we wanted the patch to be able to repopulate.|
|An image of a whole leek. Note the flat leaves, and round bulb. The plant also had a strong onion-like scent.|
If you do find leeks, the bulbs should last for a fairly long time hanging in your kitchen. Just keep them cool and dry. You may want to eat the greens pretty soon. I don't know if they will last as long. Happy foraging!
|Here is a shot of the leeks drying next to some mint. I hope the leeks don't impart an onion flavor on the mint, but I don't have anywhere else to dry them.|
*Note: It is your responsibility to correctly identify any plant or fungi that you plan on eating. Consult a local expert and/or an accurate field guide. Do not eat any wild plant or fungus unless you are 100% sure of its identity.