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Permaculture Plants: Ramps





  • Ramps are pretty, wild onions with a strong flavor.

    Common Name: Ramps
    Other Names: Spring Onion, Wood Leek, Wild Leek, Ramson (although the true Ramson is another, very closely related European/Asian species, Allium ursinum)
    Scientific Name: Allium tricoccum
    Family: Amarylidaceae, Subfamily Allioideae / Alliaceae (The Amaryllis and Onion Family)

    Harvesting ramps is easy.

    Description:
    Ramps are a U.S. native species in the “onion” genus. This wild onion has a strong garlic aroma and a sweet, onion flavor. Both the large, flat, tender leaves and the small bulbs are edible, and the leaves are more mild tasting than the bulbs.  Ramps are a spring ephemeral that grows well in moist, deep shade where they can naturalize into large colonies.

    History:
    Native to eastern and central North America. Very popular in the Appalachian Mountains, but almost no cultivation.

    Ramps can form very large colonies if allowed to spread.

    Trivia:

    • North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania all have ramp festivals every Spring.
    • The city of Chicago was named by a 17th century explorer due to the fact that ramps grew thickly on the shores of Lake Michigan. The native Americans called ramps Chicagou.


    A great collection of photos of Allium tricoccum.

    USING THIS PLANT
    Primary Uses:

    • Cooked – either/both greens and bulbs or whole plant.  Cooking mellows the strong flavor. Stir fried, fried, roasted, in soups, etc. Used like leeks or scallions. Here is a link to some Ramp Recipes. and another Ramp Recipe here.
    • Fresh – the bulb flavor is quite strong, and not many eat the bulbs raw; but the more mild greens can be chopped finely and added to salads


    Secondary Uses:

    • General insect nectar plant
    • Aromatic pest confuser
    • Fair to decent groundcover in the Spring, but not after that as the plant dies back.


    Yield: A few leaves one one bulb per plant.
    Harvesting: Very late Winter through Spring.
    Storage: Fresh is best. Can be refrigerated like leeks or scallions. Greens can be rinsed, air dried, and then frozen for a few months in an airtight container/bag.

    Young ramps don’t have the time to develop a full bulb.
    DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

    USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
    AHS Heat Zone: Not defined.
    Chill Requirement: As this is a bulbed plant, some chill is required, but nothing specific that I can find in my search.

    Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
    Leaf Type: Deciduous
    Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer
    Cultivars/Varieties: Not cultivated commercially. In Canada, it is a threatened species.

    Pollination: Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile
    Flowering: June-August depending on the USDA Zone where it is planted.
    Life Span: Spreads indefinitely from new bulbs.

    The small flowers are nectar sources for beneficial insects.

    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
    Size: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall and continues to grow wide indefinitely as new bulbs form
    Roots: Shallow bulbs
    Growth Rate: Slow

    Ramps will self-sow if given the chance.

    GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
    Light: Prefers Partial to Full Shade
    Shade: Tolerates Full Shade
    Moisture: Medium to fairly wet soils
    pH: Prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil (5.5 – 7.0)

    Special Considerations for Growing:
    Tolerates juglone (natural growth inhibitor produced by Black Walnut and its relatives).  Consider using this plant under your walnuts. It will die back before the walnuts fall.
    Should be planted under deciduous trees, not evergreens, as ramps need the light in Spring.

    Propagation: Transplanted through division from new bulbs splitting off an older plant, ideally when dormant. Some people even have success transplanting plants in full leaf. Seeds need at least 15 weeks stratification for germination.

    Maintenance:
    Minimal.

    Concerns:
    Once abundant wild stands are at risk for overharvesting.

    Original Article Here

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