ROUND-HEADED LEEK

Allium sphaerocephalon

Onion & Garlic Family [Alliaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8mauve
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ6
 
type
typeZglobed
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
leaves8hollow
leaves
smell
smell8leek
leek
rarity
rarityZrare
 

9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
A very rare plant, found in very few places. These specimens are in a garden. Medium tall to 80cm.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
The 20-30mm diameter globular dense flower-head is tightly packed with flowers. Stems stiff and round.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
The mauve-coloured flowers barely open at all, but the stamens manage to poke out. There are short papery bracts in which the globe was once wrapped.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
There are also thin white filaments that emerge from the flowers.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
The white stamens have purple anthers. The white filaments are stamens which have lost their anthers.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
Nominally it has six long triangular petals (actually sepals), but the flowers never properly open and are hard to discern.


9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Cumbrian Coast. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are cylindrical and hollow and peel off from lower reaches of the long flower stem.


Many similarities to : Allium scorodoprasum ssp. rotundum which is a sub-species of Sand Leek (Allium scorodoprasum) but which has a fully globed flower-head but which does not occur naturally in the UK, although can probably be bought at garden centres.

Some similarities to : Wild Leek (Allium ampeloprasum) but that has a larger globe of flowers which may be purple, pale-lilac or whitish with yellow anthers. Also to Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) but that has a smaller and only hemi-spherical globe of paler lilac coloured flowers which open much wider.

No relation to : Round-leaved Crowfoot [a plant with similar name].

More likely to be found growing in a garden than growing in the wild. Grows only in a few places, mostly down south. It totally lacks bulbils, but does have protruding stamens.

The scientific name 'sphaerocephalon' means 'spherical brain' from the Greek σφαιρα sphaira and ενκηεφαλος encephalos, although why botanists should liken it to a brain...


  Allium sphaerocephalon  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Alliaceae  

Distribution
 family8Onion & Garlic family8Alliaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Allium
Allium
(Onions)

ROUND-HEADED LEEK

Allium sphaerocephalon

Onion & Garlic Family [Alliaceae]