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Ramps, Wild Leek
Allium tricoccum

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RampsNew information, spring 2003: Good news! There is now a ramp farm that selld seeds, live sets and ramp-based goodies at www.rampfarm.com . There is also an excellent article on how to cultivate ramps from the NC Agricultural Extension at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-133.html.

Ah, the infamous Ramp! A member of the onion (Allium) genus, it has its own distinct (and quite strong) flavor. As they say around here, you either love 'em or hate 'em.They sprout up in early spring, at nearly any elevation, anywhere from rich damp north coves to sunny high ridges. By May their leaves will be completely faded back - but I hesitate to call it a spring ephemeral because it will flower in summer, when there are no leaves evident. I hope to add a picture of the flower in a couple of months. Although they are edible (and must have formed a staple in the diet of our early settlers), Alliums are members of the Lily Family, most of which are poisonous to us. Ramp leaves can resemble other poisonous plants, so I would not suggest trying your own harvesting unless you go with someone very familiar with them, and really get to know exactly what they look like. In western North Carolina Ramps are a major tradition. There are ramp festivals in several towns, including ramp-eating contests, cooking contests, even a Ramp Queen.Unfortunately, so much ramp collecting has been going on, they are being over-harvested. Ramps are now being found on the menus of many restaurants around the country. I hope they will become a farmable plant to help replace the tobacco farming of our region.

And now, for the famous Ramp Meatloaf recipe! Trust me, it's delicious!

You can buy whole ramps at the Asheville Farmers Market starting around mid-April. Try planting some - I did, and they are doing quite well.

Ingredients for one meatloaf:

2 lbs ground beef
2 cups chopped ramps (clean them well before chopping)
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 a package)
3 or 4 ounces V8 Juice (although I suppose you could substitute tomato juice or sauce)
1/2 a packet of McCormick (or other brand) Meatloaf Seasoning

1. Simmer the chopped ramps in some water for 5 minutes, then drain.
2. Put all ingredients in a big bowl and mix together - really the best and fastest way is to use your hands to moosh it all up.
3. Form it into a loaf in a baking pan.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 + 1/2 hours.



A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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