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Leek (Allium ampeloprasum, variety porrum).—G.R. Roberts
Hardy, vigorous, biennial plant (Allium ampeloprasum variety porrum, sometimes called A. porrum) of the family Alliaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. It has a mild, sweet, onionlike flavour. In Europe it is widely used in soups and stews and is cooked whole as a vegetable. It became the national emblem of Wales following an ancient victory by an army of Welshmen who wore leeks as a distinguishing sign. The long, narrow leaves and nearly cylindrical bulb of the first season are replaced in the second season by a tall, solid stalk bearing leaves and a large umbel with many flowers.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on leek, visit Britannica.com.