Ramps may sound like something that has to do with motorsports or skateboarding but to people from Southern Appalachia, it is a pungent plant that grows in the wild.
Ramps are also known as spring onions, ramsons, wild leeks, wood leeks, and wild garlic.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are a member of the allium family, which includes garlic and onions. It is a perennial wild onion that grows in early spring and is very much sought after by wild foragers.
Ramps can be found throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada and are also popularly used in local cuisines.
They can easily be distinguished from other wild onions by their broad, smooth, green leaves that sometimes have deep purple tints.
Their stalks look similar to those of scallions, though they often widen at the root for a slightly more bulbous appearance. Both the stalks and leaves can be consumed.
Ramps are most abundant in southern Appalachia where they are celebrated in festivals. Unfortunately they are more scarce farther north in Canada and New England.
As for the nutritional profile of ramps, they are strikingly similar to onions in nutrient composition. They are rich in vitamins A and C, selenium, as well as chromium.
That makes them ideal for teeth, bones, eyesight, the immune system, and the cardiovascular system. They also contain antioxidant properties that fight off harmful free radicals in the body.