Ive been continuing my research into different seeds to purchase for my seed bank and after finding out that garlic can only be grown from a bulb, came across Ramsons. Whats cooking without some sort of garlic or substitute. It should have occurred to me I have always grown garlic from bulbs but had assumed you could find them as a seed head. Not so. Ive been trying to keep away from any plant that I have to grow from a bulb preferring to store heirloom seeds. I’m starting to look more into native plants that are easy to grow and provide high yield.

Wild Garlic / Wood Garlic / Buckrams / Ramsons / Bear Garlic / Beer leek

(Allium Ursinum)

Wild garlic is an attractive spring-flowering perennial which may be grown for both ornamental and culinary uses.

Allium ursinum, commonly called wild garlic or ramsons, is a bulbous perennial that is native to damp shaded woods in Europe and northern Asia. It produces small rounded bulbs on branched rhizomes.

Each year, leaves appear in late winter, flowers bloom in spring, and seeds mature by mid-summer at which point the plants die back and go dormant until the following late winter.

Each plant bears 2-3 distinctive, elliptic, linear, deep green basal leaves somewhat reminiscent of the leaves of lily-of-the-valley. If bruised or crushed, the foliage emits a strong onion/garlic-like aroma. Flattened, 2-inch diameter, loose umbels of star-shaped white flowers bloom in spring atop leafless stems rising to 6-12″ (less frequently to 18″) tall. Each umbel bears 15-20 flowers. Leaves and flowers may be eaten raw (salads) or cooked (addition to soups, sauces or stews). Leaf flavor begins to decline as the flowers begin to bloom. Underground bulbs can also be eaten raw or cooked.

Specific epithet comes from Latin ursus meaning bear in reference to the proclivity of bears to dig up and eat these bulbs in the wild.

An additional common name for this plant is bear’s garlic. Common name of ramsons is from Middle English ramsyn.