By Hannah Scott-Talib
For Quebec residents who would like to harvest wild leek this year, be wary that the laws surrounding this plant are stricter than ever.
No more than 200 grams, or 50 bulbs, can be harvested per person for personal use each year. If these laws are broken, Quebec’s ministry of environment can fine violators anywhere between $2000 to $6 million, depending on how many plants were seized.
The reason for these strict regulations is primarily due to the fact that wild leek is considered a threatened species. According to the National Capital Commission (NCC), the plant can take between seven to 10 years between its germination and when it reaches full maturity. Wild leek goes by many names, including wood leek, spring onions and ramp — derived from the Old English name for ‘Wild Garlic’.
The harvesting of wild leek bulbs is prohibited on NCC lands such as Gatineau park. Since the Park receives such a high number of visitors each year, this law is in place to protect the species and ensure its survival. A spokesperson of the NCC told the LowDown in a statement that, in the spring of 2021, around 7,000 illegally-harvested wild leek plants from the Gatineau park were seized.
To anyone thinking of picking wild leek this spring, Wakefield forager Pierre Blin recommends harvesting it lightly, and only where it grows in abundance. According to him, over-harvesting — particularly from smaller patches of wild leek — can be detrimental to the plants’ survival in that area.
Blin equally stated that wild leek transplants well. “It is a great idea to transfer them to your property, preferably under a deciduous canopy,” he stated. He added that the plant grows well in moist, loamy soils.
Hence, given the strict regulations pertaining to this wild plant, it might be worth being a bit more cautious when harvesting this year and in upcoming years.