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Bible Plants

Leeks, Onions, Garlic

Allium sativum. Drying in window in Hama, Syria. Alliaceae or Liliaceae

These three garden plants are all in the genus Allium and are native to the Middle East. The species of leeks is Allium porrum; garlic is A. sativum, and onion is A. cepa. Leeks are seldom grown in the Middle East today. All are perennial plants that die back during the dry season and resume growth in the winter at the beginning of the rains. Food is stored in the underground portion of the plants, in modified stems known as bulbs. Bulbs also serve as a means of reproduction of the plants.

Leeks, onions, and garlic are mentioned only in Numbers 11: 5-6 although they are very common in the Middle East. Although provided with manna while in the wilderness, the Children of Israel still longed for those foods associated with the captivity of Egypt. They recalled these things as being "for nothing", apparently forgetting that they had been slaves.