Range and Habitat in Illinois
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Man. Vasc. Fl. Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/636
- Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Fl. Great Plains i–vii, 1–1392. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/637
- Fernald, M. 1950. Manual (ed. 8) i–lxiv, 1–1632. American Book Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1327
- Voss, E. G. 1972. Gymnosperms and Monocots. i–xv, 1–488. In Michigan Fl. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1494
- Gleason, H. A. & A. J. Cronquist. 1968. The Pteridophytoa, Gymnospermae and Monocotyledoneae. 1: 1–482. In H. A. Gleason Ill. Fl. N. U.S. (ed. 3). New York Botanical Garden, New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1495
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Flower-Visiting Insects of Wild Ramp in Illinois
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, while flies suck nectar or feed on pollen; all observations are from Graenicher)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus vagans sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis producta sn
Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus confusus sn cp, Lasioglossum connexus sn cp, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn, Lasioglossum zephyrus sn cp; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn, Hylaeus modestus modestus sn
Syrphidae: Sphaerophoria contiqua, Toxomerus geminatus; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Allium tricoccum
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Allium tricoccum
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Allium tricoccum — also known as the ramp, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wild garlic, and, in French, ail sauvage and ail des bois — is an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion. It has a a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor. The plant has broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The flower stalk appears after the leaves have died back, unlike the similar Allium ursinum, in which leaves and flowers can be seen at the same time.
Ramps grow in groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil. They are found across North America, from the U.S. state of South Carolina to Canada. They are popular in the cuisines of the rural upland South and in the Canadian province of Quebec when they emerge in the springtime. Ramps have a growing popularity in upscale restaurants throughout North America.
History and folklore
A thick growth of ramps near Lake Michigan in Illinois in the 17th century gave the city of Chicago its name, after the area was described by 17th-century explorer Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, and explained by his comrade, the naturalist and diarist Henri Joutel. The plant called Chicagou in the language of native tribes was once thought to be Allium cernuum, the nodding wild onion, but research in the early 1990s showed the correct plant was the ramp.
The ramp has strong associations with the folklore of the central Appalachian Mountains. Fascination and humor have fixated on the plant's extreme pungency. Jim and Bronson Comstock founded The West Virginia Hillbilly, a weekly humor and heritage newspaper, in 1957, and ramps were a frequent topic. For one issue, Jim Comstock introduced ramp juice into the printer's ink, invoking the ire of the U.S. Postmaster General.
The mountain folk of Appalachia have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to have great power as a tonic to ward off many ailments of winter. Indeed, ramp's vitamin and mineral content did bolster the health of people who went without many green vegetables during the winter.
The flavor, a combination of onions and strong garlic, or as food writer Jane Snow once described it, "like fried green onions with a dash of funky feet," is adaptable to almost any food style.
In central Appalachia, ramps are most commonly fried with potatoes in bacon fat or scrambled with eggs and served with bacon, pinto beans and cornbread. Ramps can also be pickled or used in soups and other foods in place of onions and garlic.
- The community of Richwood, West Virginia, holds the annual "Feast of the Ramson" in April. Sponsored by the National Ramp Association, the "Ramp Fest" (as it is locally known) brings thousands of ramp aficionados from considerable distances to sample foods featuring the plant. During the ramp season (late winter through early spring), restaurants in the town serve a wide variety of foods containing ramps.
- The city of Elkins, West Virginia, hosts the "Ramps and Rails Festival" during the last weekend in April of each year. This festival features a cook-off and ramp-eating contests, and is attended by several hundred people each year.
- The town of Cosby, Tennessee, bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has held the largest and one of the oldest ramp festivals in the United States, the "Cosby Ramp Festival," on the first weekend in May since 1954. The festival has played host to as many as 30,000 visitors in years past, has been attended by ex-President Harry Truman, and has featured such notable musical acts as Tennessee Ernie Ford, Eddy Arnold, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Minnie Pearl, and Brenda Lee. Besides the food, heritage music, dancing, and adulation of the ramp, each year a young woman is crowned "Maid of Ramps".
- The community of Flag Pond, Tennessee, hosts its annual Ramp Festival on the second Saturday each May. The festival features a wide variety of ramp-inspired foods, and includes music from an assortment of Appalachian groups. Hundreds of people attend the festival each year. Flag Pond is a community in East Tennessee, off I-26, near the state's border with North Carolina (less than half an hour from Asheville, TN).
- The community of Whitetop, Virginia, holds its annual ramp festival the third weekend in May. It is sponsored by the Mount Rogers volunteer fire department and features local music from Wayne Henderson and other bands, along with a barbecued chicken feast complete with fried potatoes and ramps and local green beans. A ramp-eating contest is held for children and adults.
- At the "Ramp It Up! Festival" held in the Native American outpost of Cherokee, North Carolina on the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ramps and rainbow trout are the focus.
- On the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania near Interstate 79 is Mason Dixon Park, which hosts the annual "Mason-Dixon Ramp Festival", typically on the third weekend in April. This festival is unique in having a "ramp rally", where ramp lovers pulling Serro Scotty campers gather to celebrate ramps and these famous 1950s RVs which were built in this area.
- In Bradford, Pennsylvania, on the first Saturday in May, an annual event called "Stinkfest" is held. Local food vendors, providing Chinese, German, Italian, and traditional American cuisine, offer their dishes with ramps included. Highlights include the dip tasting contest, the outhouse races (where teams from local business build rolling outhouses and power them down the main thoroughfare), and appearances by local musical groups.
In Canada, ramps are considered rare delicacies. Since the growth of ramps is not as widespread as in Appalachia and because of destructive human practices, ramps are a threatened species in Quebec.
Allium tricoccum is a protected species under Quebec legislation. A person may have ramps in his or her possession outside the plant's natural environment, or may harvest it for the purposes of personal consumption in an annual quantity not exceeding 200 grams of any of its parts or a maximum of 50 bulbs or 50 plants, provided that those activities do not take place in a park within the meaning of the National Parks Act. The protected status also prohibits any commercial transactions of ramps; this prevents restaurants from serving ramps as is done in the United States. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable by a fine. However, the law does not always stop poachers, who find a ready market across the border in Ontario (especially in the Ottawa area), where ramps may be legally harvested and sold.
Ramps are considered a species of "special concern" for conservation in Maine, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. They are also considered "commercially exploited" in Tennessee. Ramp festivals may encourage harvest in unsustainable quantities.
- ^ a b c Zeldes, Leah A. (2010-04-05). "Ramping up: Chicago by any other name would smell as sweet". Dining Chicago. Chicago's Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc.. http://www.diningchicago.com/blog/2010/04/05/ramping-up-chicago-by-any-other-name-would-smell-as-sweet/. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- ^ Swenson, John F. (Winter 1991). "Chicago: Meaning of the Name and Location of Pre-1800 European Settlements". Early Chicago. http://www.earlychicago.com/essays.php?essay=1. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- ^ "Ramps in the Ink" [Interview of Comstock], Goldenseal, Vol. 20 (Winter 1994):23. Comstock had been inspired by the scratch-and-sniff advertising for perfume and coffee in several local papers. The issue in question announced the Richwood Ramp Supper by lacing the printer's ink for the spring issue with ramp juice. According to Comstock, "We got a reprimand from the Postmaster General.... And we are probably the only paper in the United States that's under oath to the federal government not to smell bad".
- ^ Jeanine M. Davis and Jacqulyn Greenfield. "Cultivating Ramps: Wild Leeks of Appalachia". Purdue University. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-449.html. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
- ^ Eric Block, "Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science" (Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010)
- ^ Dilys Davies, "Alliums: The Ornamental Onions" (Portland: Timber Press, 1992)
- ^ Penny Woodward, "Garlic and Friends: The History, Growth and Use of Edible Alliums" (South Melbourne: Hyland House, 1996)
- ^ Snow, Jane (April 21, 2004). "Hankering For Ramps". The Akron Beacon Journal.
- ^ Info on Feast of the Ramson and history of Ramps
- ^ Cosby Ramp Festival
- ^ 
- ^ Whitetop Mountain Ramp Festival
- ^ Éditeur officiel du Québec, "Regulation respecting threatened or vulnerable plant species and their habitats", Gazette officielle, April 25, 2007.
- ^ Globe and Mail, "Garlic lovers answer the call of the wild", 21 May 2007
- ^ NRCS: USDA Plants Profile and map: A. tricoccum
- Block, E. (2010). Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry. ISBN 978-0-85404-190-9.
- Davies, D. (1992). Alliums: The Ornamental Onions. (Portland: Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-241-2.
- Woodward, P. (1996). Garlic and Friends: The History, Growth and Use of Edible Alliums. (South Melbourne: Hyland House. ISBN 1-875657-62-2.
- Core, Earl Lemley (1945), “Ramps“, Castanea, 10:110-112.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Kartesz 1994 and 1999 exclude Allium burdickii, sometimes treated as a subspecies of A. tricoccum (as in FNA 2002). Allium tuberosum is listed as a synonym of A. tricoccum by Morton & Venn (1990), stating that the Ontario report needs confirmation. Kartesz 1999 and FNA 2002 treat A. tuberosum as a distinct exotic. This species is the "wild ramps" of Appalachian folklore.
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