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Publication #HS620

Leek—Allium ampeloprasum L. (Porrum group)1

James M. Stephens2

The leek is a biennial that is grown as an annual for its long blanched or unblanched stems. It forms a thick, fleshy structure like a large green onion plant without a bulb. It is attractive in appearance with its silvery base and green top.

Figure 1. 



James M. Stephens, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description and Use

The leaves of some varieties are blue-green, while others are yellow-green. The leaves are flat, in contrast to the round ones of the onion, and are arranged in a fan-like manner. The thick leaf bases and slightly developed bulb are eaten as a cooked vegetable or raw with or without attached leaves. The green leaves may be eaten and have a pungent odor and acrid taste. They are used more for flavoring in salads and cooked dishes. A favorite dish for many gardeners is leek soup.


Leeks can withstand a considerable amount of exposure to temperatures below 32°F. Start leeks from seeds or transplants in the fall and grow them very much like onions. Leeks require almost 5 months from seeding to harvest when grown in the winter in Florida.

Leek varieties that have done well in Florida trials are 'Electra,' which has a short shank (bulbous portion), and 'King Richard,' which has a longer shank.



This document is HS620, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1994. Revised September 2015. Reviewed October 2018. Visit the EDIS website at


James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.