Thank you so much! We appreciate all your donations, big and small, which poured in during 2014. You gave our charity over £10,000 in response to our appeal, over ten times more than in 2013! This meant we did not need to dip into our dwindling reserves to keep the database and website going and free of charge for another year. In 2015 we will continue to depend on your donations, so please do keep them coming. More information on our financial position >>>
Search Page Content
   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

Allium triquetrum - L.                
Common Name Three-Cornered Leek
Family Alliaceae
Known Hazards Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in very large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible[76].
Habitats Hedge banks and waste places on damp soils[17, 90].
Range S. Europe. Naturalized in Britain in S.W. England[17].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of bulb
Allium triquetrum is a BULB growing to 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 7-Feb It is in flower from Apr to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

USDA hardiness zone : 7-10

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Allium triquetrum Three-Cornered Leek

(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
Allium triquetrum Three-Cornered Leek
(c) 2010 Ken Fern, Plants For A Future
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Bulb - raw or cooked. The rather small bulb is up to 20mm in diameter[200], it has a mild garlic flavour and can be used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods. It is harvested in early summer when the plant has died down and will store for at least 6 months[K]. Leaves - raw or cooked. A leek substitute[22]. The leaves are available from late autumn until the spring, they are nice in salads when they are young, or cooked as a vegetable or flavouring as they get older[K]. The leaves have a milder and more delicate flavour than onions[183]. Flowers - raw. Juicy with a mild garlic flavour, they make a tasty and decorative garnish on salads[K].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system[K].
Other Uses

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles[20].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a rich moist but well-drained soil[1, 42]. Shade tolerant[31], it is easily grown in a cool leafy soil[90] and grows well in light moist woodland[203]. Plants are not very hardy outside the milder areas of Britain, they tolerate temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply[1]. The seeds have an oil-bearing appendage which is attractive to ants. The ants carry the seed away to eat the oil and then discard the seed, thus aiding dispersal of the plant[203]. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes[18, 20, 54]. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other[201]. The flowers are sweetly scented[245]. The picked flowers can remain fresh for several weeks[89]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse or cold frame. It germinates quickly and can be grown on in the greenhouse for the first year, planting out the dormant bulbs in the late summer of the following year if they have developed sufficiently, otherwise grow on in pots for a further year. Stored seed can be sown in spring in a greenhouse. Division in summer after the plants have died down. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[22]Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods.
Not very comprehensive, it seems more or less like a copy of earlier writings with little added.
[31]Brown. Shade Plants for Garden and Woodland.
[42]Grey. C. H. Hardy Bulbs.
Rather dated now, but an immense work on bulbs for temperate zones and how to grow them. Three large volumes.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[89]Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean.
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
[90]Phillips. R. and Rix. M. Bulbs
Superbly illustrated, it gives brief details on cultivation and native habitat.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[203]Davies. D. Alliums. The Ornamental Onions.
Covers about 200 species of Alliums. A very short section on their uses, good details of their cultivation needs.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
James K. Sayre Sat Apr 23 20:05:28 2005
This cheerful little member of the Onion family is well naturalized in parts of coastal California. Thanks for hosting a difinitive entry on Allium triquetrum. This was a hard plant to identify: misidentified as "Lily of the Valley," then "Star of Bethlehem" It took a visit to a local plant sale to get it properly identified.
Elizabeth H.
Joan Meadowcroft Tue May 1 2007
This plant was very common in the hedgerows in Cornwall, England at the end of April. Also difficult to identify as it does not appear in many plant books.
Elizabeth H.
Valerie Trim Tue May 15 2007
Don't plant this unless you don't mind it spreading like mad if you forget to deadhead it!!! The 5 I bought for quite a lot of money a few years ago have colonised large areas of my garden, growing eually well on the rockery as in the woodland area originally planted!!! Although attractive--- beware!!!
Elizabeth H.
Valerie Trim Tue May 15 2007
By the way--- to identify it , notice that the leaves and stems have a triangular cross section , hence the "tri" bit of their name I suppose. It goes well here in the midlands. I almost regret planting it!!!
Elizabeth H.
Jo Foster Fri Feb 15 2008
I certainly regret planting the one bulb I bought as part of a special offer from a reputable source a fw years ago. the four big one disappeared and there is now nothing but A. triqutrum in my garden. I think it was irresponsible to offer it without warning, but thanks for the moth repellent hint. I can juice the leaves and go into business!
Elizabeth H.
Fri Mar 21 2008
I entirely endorse comments about its invasiveness - it's particularly difficult to get rid of because each plant seems to produce hundreds of tiny bulbils and unless you get rid of every one it will carry on spreading. It's lovely, but definitely needs labelling as 'invasive'. Perhaps the main article above could be amended in case readers don't get as far as our comments?
Elizabeth H.
Marinella Zepigi Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Allium triquetrum L. - Description - Photos

Elizabeth H.
Laura Chariton Tue Mar 24 2009
Allium triquetrum should not be planted outside of its native western mediterranean locale under any circumstances, unless one wants a yard of nothing else. It has croweded out every native small plants and grasses in my yard, dries up in June leaving barren soil. It is a dangerous invasive that destroys native habitat. Once I had quail, and now that the allium has taken over they too are gone. Do not plant this under any circumstances. If you do have it, every part of the plant is edible, digging up the bulbs, rubbing them between your palms to remove the skins and saute and add to any dish is a creative way to get rid of them. Bulbs can be stored for months in a dry cupboard. The greens and flowers are delicious. The problem is they seed voraciously. When they are wet on a slope, they are like slippery ice. I have taken numerous tumbles through the years. I would gladly pay to have them gone.
Elizabeth H.
Sue Jackson Fri Apr 3 2009
Oh hec - I thing this is what I have in my garden! It has just about taken over the whole garden! Looks like I am going to spend Easter digging it all up!!Sue - Colwyn Bay any tips for getting rid of it would be very welcome
Elizabeth H.
mandy Sun Apr 26 2009
I have taken sacks and sacks of the bulbs to the tip every spring for the last few years. It has killed off many other plants. I have dug out the area where I also had wild daffodils and hope to replant them elsewhere. They were not flowering in the allium patch. I have finally decided to try a weed killer on it, but need something dog safe as my dog likes the taste of garlic! One web site suggested domestic bleach or glyphos. Any suggestions welcome.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Allium triquetrum  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site