Allium scorodoprasum

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaLiliaceaeAlliumAllium scorodoprasum


A bulbous, perennial herb spreading mainly by bulbils in rough grassland and waste ground, on road verges and track sides and by railways. It sometimes occurs in more natural habitats such as sandy river banks, open woodlands on well-drained soils and a variety of coastal situations. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe; widely naturalised outside its native range. Our plant is sometimes considered to be a horticulturally derived variant of the S. European A. scorodoprasum subsp. rotundum.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 6

Moisture (Ellenberg): 6

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 7

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1000

Height (cm): 80

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Bulbous geophyte



Clonality - primary

Tuberous or bulbous, slowing cloning by offsets

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 181

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: 0.3

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Allium scorodoprasum L.

Sand leek

Status: not scarce

This is a bulbous plant of grassland, scrub and open woodland on dry, sandy soils. It is occasionally found on riversides, mainly on gravel and sandy banks. It is often found in limited numbers, sparsely scattered. It is virtually confined to the lowlands, but reaches 370 metres in Silverdale.

It is a perennial and reproduces by bulb offsets and by bulbils.

There are many more records in northern England now than were available to the editors of the Atlas of the British Flora (Perring & Walters 1962). This probably reflects the recent recording efforts in this area, but the plant may also have become more obvious by increased flowering with the warm, dry summers experienced over the last few years.

The British plant is A. scorodoprasum subsp. scorodoprasum. This has a scattered distribution in northern and central Europe, reaching its northern limit in Scotland and southern Finland, and extending south to Bulgaria and the Crimea. Three other subspecies are recognised in Europe, and have more southerly distributions.

Like A. oleraceum this plant may be a long­ established alien in Britain, and its wide and scattered distribution in Europe may be partly due to its former cultivation as a culinary plant (Tutin et al. 1980).


L. Farrell

Atlas text references

Atlas (325c)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Mathew B
1996.  A review of Allium Section Allium.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.