Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

Onions of all kinds are as much a part of German cuisine as potatoes, and they come in numerous varieties. Due to their thousands of years of use, there are different trade names and synonyms for the various bulbous plants, which are often confused. As a small example, there are leeks, spring onions and spring onions in addition to the classic onions. But what are leeks and what are onions? The differences are clear here and finally provide information about the question - What are leeks, onions, leeks and spring onions?

All are leeks

Despite their differences, all of these vegetables belong to the allium subfamily, Allioideae, within the asparagus family. More specifically, they belong to the genus Allium, which is only found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere and has a special feature: the alliin. Alliin is a sulphurous amino acid that gives the genus its characteristic aroma, which is produced when the plants are cut and also brings tears to many people's eyes. Types of leeks include:

  • Onion (Allium cepa)
  • Leek (Allium ampeloprasum)
  • Winter Onion (Allium fistulosum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • wild garlic (Allium ursinum)
  • Giant leek (Allium giganteum)
  • Rakyo (Allium chinense)

The species of the genus are popular crops that are mainly used in Central European, North African and Asian cuisine, where they are known for their antibacterial properties. They have been one of the most important vegetables for humans since ancient times, as they have a high energy content and are well suited to a variety of dishes. This also applies to the leek, onion and spring onion, which are similar in many respects but can be easily distinguished at certain points. They are all perennial plants that grow herbaceously and are fairly undemanding in terms of care.

Notice: The leek family was already known to the Germans. Because of their healing properties, they were then used for the name of a rune.


The classic table or kitchen onion is a type of leek that, in contrast to the typical leek, has an onion as a storage organ. It is usually sold in stores without the tubular leaves and is a common sight in German vegetable drawers. Even people who don't eat a lot of vegetables often use onions because they are essential for numerous dishes and round off the taste of meat with their aroma. In direct comparison to leeks and leeks, it is the only type of leek that forms a thickened onion. The closest relative within the thickened onion genus would be the garlic. The properties:

  • Trivial names: Onion leek, kitchen onion, garden onion, table onion, spring onion, common onion, house onion, numerous other names that vary from region to region
  • forms tubular leaves
  • you have to peel
  • forms onions
  • forms round flowers of white colour
  • can be propagated using onion sets
  • There are different breeds that define the size and thickness of the harvested onion
  • are commercially available without leaves
  • are irritating to the stomach when raw
  • Fumes may irritate eyes and nose when cutting

You can recognize the classic kitchen onion primarily by its round, thick bulb, which is separated from the leaves and sold as such on the market. At the weekly market and in rural areas, the onions are often offered with the leaves, as these can also be used for cooking, similar to the spring onions.

Due to the sulphide-based essential oil it contains, tears form when the onion is cut, and to reduce the spiciness of the vegetable it is necessary to cook it. They can also be found in different sizes, for example the tiny silver onions and the rather large vegetable onions.

winter onion

The winter onion, which is less well known under this name, is the spring onion or spring onion. These are not the onions, sometimes called winter onions when sown in autumn, but do not have the same characteristics as spring onions.

Spring onions, like leeks, do not form a thick bulb and are most commonly used for their cloves (leaves of spring onions) and the long, thin bulb, which contains roughly the same substances as the onion. With her, however, the amount contained is distributed differently:

  • Leaves contain more essential oils
  • Onion softer in taste

Due to the greater amount of essential oils in the slits, they are much hotter than the onion itself, but not as hot as the onion. It is often grown in the East Asian regions as the main onion and even ranks second among all crops after rice. The growth form is reminiscent of a mixture of leeks and chives, but the leaf shape here is similar to garden onions. They are not propagated by bulbs, but by seeds, which are frost-resistant and sprout in spring and can be harvested as early as April. Other properties:

  • Trivial names: spring onions, spring onions, spring onions, tubular leeks, spring leeks and other names that vary from region to region
  • forms tubular leaves
  • you don't have to cook
  • does not form thick onions
  • produces white flowers
  • is sown from seeds
  • the entire onion is commercially available
  • does not occur wild in Central Europe


The classic leek is actually leek or leek. These two names refer to the same plant and leek was the actual first name for Allium ampeloprasum until the word leek leek took over from the 1970s. Today both names can be found in the trade. The growth of leeks is similar to that of spring onions in that they do not form a thickened bulb and the whole plant is used. The white body of the bulb merges into the green leaves, which are not tubular but flat and quite wide. Other properties:

  • Trivial names: Leeks, leeks, winter leeks, broad leeks, common leeks, Ahose and other regionally different names
  • forms flat, lanceolate leaves
  • you have to cook
  • forms white to light purple flowers
  • does not form an onion
  • is sown from seeds
  • whole plant can be used

Due to the shape of their leaves, they stand out from the other two onions and are more reminiscent of garlic and wild garlic leaves in a longer shape. The leek is one of the most important cultivated plants of antiquity and is still a tasty vegetable for numerous dishes today. The taste is not so spicy due to its size, it is by far the largest of the three leek plants described, but it has to be cooked beforehand to be enjoyable at all.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!