Ramp Fever

Wild Geranium in front of ramp

I had heard about ramps from Foodie friends. Allium tricoccum are woodland plants native to the USA and are becoming scarce and increasingly difficult to find. One spring day, 5-6 years ago, I was out shooting woodland wild flowers when I realized I was standing in a huge patch of ramps, or what I thought might be ramps….they looked a lot like the photo I pulled up on my phone…and they smelled of onions. I had to know what my friends were nattering on about.

Ramps appear in spring with the other woodland wildflowers. As the other wildflowers they appear before the trees leaf out. I had a very short trip up north a week ago. My husband had a short gig and I went along to plant some wildflower seeds in open spaces, shoot some spring wildflowers and, hopefully, pick some ramps. You do develop a craving for ramps.

Ramps are slow to grow and slow to recover from harvest. When I pick, I am conservative; pick one, leave 3, leave the roots of the ones you harvest, but my super duper secret patch had been decimated. Not so super now. I picked less than I wanted and then split that, half for me to attempt propagation in my gardens and eventually surrounding woods, and half to eat.

The woods in spring a week ago:

Ramps are revered in Appalachia. It was likely First Nations people that taught outsiders what they were.

There are festivals devoted to ramps:

There are odes to ramps:

Shakespeare never wrote about ramps, but only because he didn’t have any there in England.

Aaand next post I’ll show you what I did with my ramps.

West Michigan Ramps

Published by dunelight


22 thoughts on “Ramp Fever

  1. Not being an expert in this sort of thing, I wonder if you know whether Ramsons (wild garlic) that we have in England are related to Ramps. I think their botanical name might be Allium ursinam.

    1. I wondered about ‘Rampions’ from European fairy tales. I think Rapunzel was locked in the tower because when her mother was pregnant with Rapunzel she craved rampions, so her husband stole some from the old lady next door. Turned out the old Lady was a witch and Disney made a lot of money..etc. etc.

      Pickled Ramps are one of those obscure foods you’ll wake up at 3 in the morning with a craving for. People who know about them go crazy foraging for them.

      1. I don’t know about Pickled Ramps, but I certainly wouldn’t want to wake up next to somebody who has been eating Ramsons πŸ™‚

      2. As I recall after our more heavily ramp intense meals we were both quite stinky. I now feed the craving with little bits of pickled ramp. It’s not so bad.

      3. Wow..I learn something new every day. I wonder if your Lamb Lettuce is our “Miner’s Lettuce”. I simply MUST waste more time on the internet to find out. πŸ˜€

  2. I actually learned about ramps when I lived in Slovakia. I haven’t found any yet where I live but I also haven’t looked very hard. I’m slowly learning how to forage the woods. There are so many treasures to be found.

      1. Yes, it was cool and I really miss it. My Slovak friend picked the ramps and used them in all kinds of recipes. I remember there’s a risk of mistaking them for another plant that’s poisonous.

  3. Shakespeare didn’t know ramps because there was none in England as you write. That had changed we have f.e. quite a carpet of ramps in a little wood nearby. We try to grow it in our garden but it take ages to spread whereas our neighbour grows ramps quite successfully.
    When we lived in Germany it was quite a common ingredient in meals.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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