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Wild leek
Photo: Biodôme de Montréal

SEM'AIL is an awareness, education and restoration program for wild leek, a vulnerable species in Quebec.  

What is wild leek?

Wild leek is an edible herb that grows in rich maple stands of eastern North America. It is well known and appreciated for the garlic taste of its bulb. Since the 1970s, its popularity has led to over-harvesting, driven by commercial sales, and the species has declined sharply.

Wild leek has all but disappeared from the Montréal and Laval regions, and many colonies are struggling in the Laurentians, Lanaudière, Montérégie and Outaouais regions. In 1995, wild leek became the first officially designated vulnerable species in Québec. All commercial sales were prohibited, and harvesting was limited to 50 plants a year, for personal consumption only. 

A participatory science program for the recovery of the species

In 1999, the Montréal Biodôme introduced the SEM'AIL program, a large-scale initiative to promote the recovery of the species in the natural environment and support the steps already taken to protect it. From 2000 to 2004, close to one million wild leek seeds were distributed to the owners of maple stands interested in the species’ conservation. In addition, over 440,000 bulbs seized by wildlife officers were replanted in woodlands owned by SEM'AIL participants. Seeds are no longer being distributed in spring, but awareness and education efforts are continuing. Since 2010, we have been developing an educational component for schools, SEM’AILjr.

Tips for successful seeding  

We invite southern Québec landowners interested in the conservation of the species to carefully read the information provided on the website. You will find what it takes to achieve a successful seeding. Be sure to choose a seeding site that provides the best habitat to meet the needs of the species.

Good luck!

For more information about the program, contact :

Andrée Nault, Research Division
Montréal Biodôme   

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