The Ramp - or wild leek as it is also known - is a native North American species of wild onion found growing in the rich woodland soils of streams, hillsides and riverbanks from Quebec to South Carolina. A spring ephemeral, the leaves appear in April and die back in late May.
The entire plant is edible from bulb to tip, possessing a strong yet versatile flavor reminiscent of both garlic and onions, but with a special richness all its own. It has long been considered a spring delicacy from the back woods of Appalachia to the five-star restaurants of Manhattan.
Although both common and prolific in the more southerly parts of its range, Ramps are found rather infrequently here in Maine. Ramps are slow growing, typically taking two years to germinate from seed and several years for each bulb to attain a mature size. Ramps are delicate plants which must be carefully dug from the tangled roots of the forest understory. As a result, only a very limited quantity may be harvested each year to ensure a sustainable supply for many years to come. We recommend not digging the bulbs at all, only cutting the leaves which have an abundance of flavor, and leaving the bulbs in the ground to allow the plants to reproduce.
Use ramps freely as you would garlic, onions or leeks. We especially enjoy grinding them into a pesto.
Latin Name: Allium tricoccum
Season: Late April-Early May