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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Allium tricoccum, Edible wild plants

Could you tell me about wild garlic, or ramps? What is the best planting location for it, and how is it used in cooking?


Ramps, or Allium tricoccum, is sometimes referred to as wild leek or ramsons (which may also refer to Allium ursinum). An article about this plant from North Carolina State University (no longer available online) mentions ramp or ramps festivals, most of which are held in the southeastern U.S., where this plant is native. According to Alliums: The Ornamental Onions by Dilys Davies (Timber Press,1992), ramps thrive (or grow rampantly) in damp woodlands or hillsides. The author says that neither Ramps nor Ramsons "should be introduced into the civilised areas of the garden unless a takeover is acceptable."

Another consideration is that the leaves resemble lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), which is poisonous, so you would not want to grow the two plants close together. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this Allium itself has toxic properties (but relatively low toxicity), and should only be consumed in small quantities. The leaves, bulbs, and bulblets all have edible uses:
"Gather leaves during spring and fall. Gather bulbs in the second year when they are large enough to use like cultivated onions. Flower stem bulblets are collected during the summer. Use as domestic onions, for seasoning or raw in salads. Bulbs can be used raw, boiled, pickled or for seasoning. Their strong taste can be reduced by parboiling and discarding the water. [...] use flower bulbs to flavor soup or for pickling." (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)

Date 2018-03-14
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May 31 2018 13:14:08