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.