Ramp, Wild Leek
(Allium tricocca)

Ramp Seed- and Flower Head
Ramps Seeds and Flowers

Tiny, hard, round, black seeds appear on umbrella-like clusters on a slender stalk in late summer and fall. In late fall, you can locate the bulb by looking for the remnants of the seed head.

You recognize this premier member of the onion/garlic family by itís elongated-oval smooth-edged, stalked leaves, 4-12 inches long and 1 to 2-1/2 inches wide, emerging in dense stands from the floor of moist, open woodlands throughout Eastern North America every spring.
Ramp Leaf and Bulb
Ramps Leaves and Bulb

The bulbs are at their smallest in early spring, when the growing leaves absorb the nutrients for rapid growth.

Crush any part of the plant, and its familial affinity will hit you right in the nose.
Ramp photo
Young Ramps in Early Spring

Lily-of-the-valley, beautiful but deadly (it reminds me of my ex-girlfriend) has similar leaves, but no odor.

Ramp leaves die back when tree leaves block the sunlight from reaching them in late spring, but a slender, smooth, erect flower stalk, 6 inches to 1-1/2 feet tall, supports a small, umbrella-like cluster of 6-petaled white to cream-colored flowers in early summer.

Ramp Flowers
Ramp Flowers

The 6-petaled flowers are typical of the lily family, to which ramps and onions belong.

The flowers are followed by three-lobed, green fruit.
Ramp Fruit and Seeds
Ramp Fruit

Note the 3 lobes of each fruit.

The fruits open in the fall to expose tiny, globular, shiny, black seeds in sets of threes.
Ramp Seeds
Ramp Seeds

Before falling to the ground, the seeds grow in sets of 3.

Ramp Seeds, Close-up
Ramp Seeds Close-up

Note the 3 chambers in the opened fruit.

Underground, youíll find white bulbs, usually clustered, which are edible spring (when I usually collect just the leaves, since the bulbs are small then), summer, and fall (plus mild winters, if you can find them).
Ramp Bulb
Ramp Bulb in Summer

The bulb looks like an oblong onion, but packs way more punch!

When there are no leaves, look for the flower- or seedstalk to locate the bulbs.
Ramp Skeleton
Ramp Skeleton

Locate this in the fall and you'll know where to dig for the bulbs.

There are no two ways about it: Whether you use the leaves or the bulbs, this is simply the best-tasting member of the entire onion family, wild or commercial. You can use the leaves or bulbs raw or cooked. Any cooking method works, taking 5-15 minutes. Youíll find that ramps are terrific, and so is the resulting bad breath.

If you canít find ramps in the wild, you may purchase them in gourmet stores. Otherwise, substitute shallots.

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