This perennial plant produces 2-3 basal leaves during the spring. These
leaves are typically 6-9" long and ¾-1½" across; they are
linear-oblong or elliptic-oblong in shape with smooth margins and parallel venation. The
leaf surfaces are pale green to medium green and glabrous. Leaf
orientation is erect, ascending, or arched and sprawling. The petioles are very
short and often hidden by ground litter; they are pale green and
glabrous. By early summer, the basal leaves wither away. After a short
dormant period, an erect flowering stalk is produced that is 6-20"
tall. This stalk is pale green, glabrous, terete, unbranched, and
naked (devoid of leaves); it is surrounded by a membranous sheath at
its base. At the apex of this stalk, there is a rounded umbel of 10-20
flowers about ¾-1½" across. At the base of this umbel, there is a pair
of small deciduous bracts. Each flower spans up to ¼" across,
consisting of 6 white to greenish white tepals, 6 stamens, and a
3-lobed ovary with a single white style. The stamens are barely exerted
above the tepals. The slender pedicels are light green to greenish
white. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer for about
2-3 weeks. The flowers, like the foliage, have an onion-like scent.
Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 3-celled seed capsules; there
is only a single seed per cell. The capsules divide into 3 sections to
release their seeds. The seeds are globoid, black, and shiny. The root
system consists of an ovoid bulb with fibrous roots below. Usually,
this bulb is enclosed by a fibrous sheath with one or more other bulbs.
Vegetative offsets from the production of new bulbs often occurs,
resulting in dense colonies of plants.
preference is dappled sunlight during the spring, while during the
summer any light level is tolerated because the basal leaves have
withered away by this time. Conditions should be more or less mesic;
the soil should be loamy, fertile, and relatively loose with decaying
organic material. Plants should not be transplanted when the basal
leaves are present.
Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek (Allium
) is occasional in NE and
east-central Illinois, while in the the rest of the state it is
uncommon or absent (see Distribution
). This species is found
primarily in the upper Midwest. Because Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek has not
been reliably distinguished from the more common Wild Leek (Allium
) in the past, it is probably more common and
official records indicate. Habitats include rich deciduous woodlands,
wooded bluffs, wooded areas along rivers and streams, and cemetery
prairies. Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek is an indicator that the original
ground flora of a woodlands is still intact. It is currently threatened
by the spread of an invasive European species, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria
), in wooded areas. Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek is
found in higher
quality natural areas.
pollinators are probably similar to those of Allium tricoccum
Leek), consisting of various bees and flies. Both nectar and pollen are
available as floral rewards to such visitors. Insects that feed on the
bulbs, foliage, flowers, or seeds are poorly understood for
Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek (Allium
). However, insects that are known to feed on one or more
(Onions) include: the
larvae of Delia antiqua
(Onion Maggot), Eumerus
Fly), and Eumerus
(Lesser Bulb Fly); the plant bugs
; and Thrips
(Onion Thrips). Mammalian herbivores usually avoid consumption of the
Mesic woodlands in Piatt County
and Vermilion County in east-central Illinois; also a cemetery prairie
in Champaign County, Illinois.
consider Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek to be a variety of the more common
Wild Leek, or Allium
(see eFloras, FNA Vol. 26, pp.
224-226), while other authorities consider this species to be distinct,
(Mohlenbrock, 2002). The latter
viewpoint has been
adopted here. Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek can be distinguished from Wild
Leek by its more narrow leaves (less than 1½" across), greenish
petioles (rather than reddish), fewer-flowered umbels (less than 21
flowers). The bulbs of Narrow-Leaved Wild Leek are also supposed to be
smaller in size, and the stamens of its flowers may be less exerted
than those of Wild Leek. Because the range of these two species (or
varieties) overlap, it is possible that they hybridize. As a result,
some collected or photographed specimens may be difficult to classify.
Both of these species (or varieties) are distinct from other Allium
in Illinois by their wider leaves and the absence of
when the flowers bloom.