Wild leek

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The name Wild leek can also refer to Allium ampeloprasum, a native of Europe.
Wild leek or ramp
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Kingdom: Plantaeia
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Liliopsida
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Order: Asparagales
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Family: Alliaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
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Tribe: Allieae
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Genus: Allium
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Species: A. tricoccum
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Binomial name
Allium tricoccum
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Bulb of the wild leek

Wild leeks (Allium tricoccum), also known as ramps or ail des bois (french), are a member of the onion family (Alliaceae). Both the white root and the broad green leaves are edible. They are found from the U.S. state of South Carolina to Canada and are especially popular in the cuisine of the US state of West Virginia and the Canadian province of Quebec when they emerge in the springtime. A common description of the flavor is like a combination of onions and strong garlic.


Culinary uses

In central Appalachia, ramps are most commonly fried with potatoes in bacon grease or scrambled with eggs and served with bacon, pinto beans, and cornbread. Ramps, however, are quite adaptable to almost any food style and can also be used in soups, puddings, ketchup, guacamole and other foods, in place of onions and garlic. Some people like them raw, but others say the aroma of raw wild leeks stays with one for daysTemplate:Views needing attribution.

The community of Richwood, West Virginia holds the annual Feast of the Ramson in April. Sponsored by the National Ramp Association, the 'ramp feed' (as it is locally known) brings thousands of ramp aficianados 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 wild leeks.

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 old time music from Wayne Henderson and other bands and a barbecued chicken feast complete with fried potatoes and ramps and local green beans. A ramp-eating contest is held for children through adults[1].

In Canada, wild leeks are considered rare delicacies. Since the growth of leeks is not as widespread as in West Virginia and because of destructive human practices, wild leeks are an endangered species in Quebec.

Quebec Law

The wild leek (Allium tricoccum), is a protected species under Quebec legislation. A person may have wild leek in his or her possession outside its 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 parks act. The protected status also prohibits any commercial transactions of wild leeks, this prevents restaurants from serving wild leek as is done in West Virginia. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable by a fine.[1]However, the law does not always stop poachers, who find a ready market across the border in Ontario (especially in the Ottawa area), where wild leeks may be legally harvested and sold.[2]


  • The name of the U.S. city Chicago is said to originate from "Checagou" (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah) or "Checaguar," which in the Potawatomi language means "wild onions" or "skunk." The area may have been so named because of the smell of rotting marshland wild leeks (ramps) that used to cover it.

Ramps in fiction

  • The protagonist of JT LeRoy's novel Sarah encounters ramps for the first time at a truck stop in the wilds of West Virginia, and eating them becomes a rite of passage.

See also

External links



  • Jane Snow, "Hankering For Ramps", The Akron Beacon Journal, April 21, 2004, pp. E1, E4-E5.

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