Dried specimens from archaeological sites in ancient Egypt, as well as wall carvings and drawings, led Zohary and Hopf to conclude the leek was a part of the Egyptian diet from at least the second millennium BCE onwards. They also allude to surviving texts that show it had been also grown in Mesopotamia from the beginning of the second millennium BCE. The leek was the favourite vegetable of the Emperor Nero, who consumed it in soup or in oil, believing it beneficial to the quality of his voice.
Edit] Cultural significance
Leeks for sale
The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales, worn along with the daffodil (in Welsh, the daffodil is known as "Peter's leek," Cenhinen Bedr) on St. David’s Day. According to one legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. This story may have been made up by the English poet Michael Drayton, but the leek has been known to be a symbol of Wales for a long time; Shakespeare, for example, refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an “ancient tradition” in Henry V. In the play, Henry tells Fluellen that he is wearing a leek “for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.” The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coins bear the design of a leek in a coronet, representing Wales.
Alongside the other national floral emblems of countries in the Commonwealth (including the English Tudor Rose, Scottish thistle, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, and Indian lotus), the Welsh leek appeared on the coronation gown of Elizabeth II. It was designed by Norman Hartnell; when Hartnell asked if he could exchange the leek for the more aesthetically pleasing Welsh daffodil, he was told no.
Perhaps the most visible use of the leek, however, is as the cap badge of the Welsh Guards, a regiment within the Household Division of the British Army.
In Romania, the leek is also widely considered a symbol of Oltenia, a historical region in the southwestern part of the country.
Two blooming flower heads
A largely spent flower head showing open flowers as well as developing seed pods.
Leek field in Houthulst, Belgium
Still life of leeks and thyme
Section and root base
Edit] See also
Allium tricoccum, a North American plant commonly known as "wild leek"
Culture of Wales
Kurrat, Egyptian Leek
Laukaz, a rune that has been speculated to mean “leek”