Thursday, April 27, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Ramps or Bear’s Garlic



DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Time to fire up the pan and take those yummy ramps into your hands. Ramps, ramsons, or Bear’s Garlic (Allium ursinum) is a tasty spring treat for foragers. This is equally true whether you are foraging in the woods out at Lakeshore or at the local farmer’s market. They are a fleeting treasure for munchers, tonic takers, and kitchen practitioners.


Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
This wild allium pops up in sandy to loamy soil in the early Spring, usually around  April here in Michigan. They seem to coincide with morel season. They are not as elusive, but you won’t find them easily down the road either. Just this week, I cooked some in chicken broth, with some sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and a bit of oregano. Good eating.

A lot of folks swear by this little strongly scented wonder. Botanicseye give a good breakdown of the most common attributes sought after by its lovers.
Additionally, Ramson can be beneficial in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. A juice made from the plant can be used in weight loss programs. Used externally, Ramson can be helpful as a circulation stimulant in cases of rheumatic and arthritic joints.  – BotanicsEye


I really like this plant. So much so, that I am including another video for better identification.



Allium ursinum by Archenzo Cortenova (Lecco) 02 aprile 2005
 



Now, it is very important to make sure you are gathering the right plant. Smell it. It should smell like garlic. Again, be careful in identifying this plant in the field.
Since bear’s garlic has become so popular, many people have tried to collect the plant in the wild. Several cases of poisoning have been reported in recent years, as there are a few toxic plants with roughly similar leaves, particularly lily of the valley (Convallaria majus, Convallariaceae/Asparaginales) and autumn crocus (meadow saffron, naked ladies, Colchicum autumnale, Colchicaceae/Liliales). Both plants do not show even traces of garlic odour, and similarities are in the best case superficial, or even non-existent. – Spice Pages
You will die. And then you can use the nice little flowers on your grave site next to your cairn, I guess. Paying attention now?

For our healers, this plant is high in sulfur and rich in vitamins A and C. The body does not store vitamin C, so this is a great thing to eat after a long winter. Just remember, it will make its presence known in on the breath of the person consuming it, as well as other smelly ways. You have been warned.

As far as common usage for our kitchen witchin’ friends, it is a protective plant. Like many alliums, it is used to protect against general misfortune, as well as combined with other spell components for exorcism. Sniff it, you will see why it probably would be good to fend off most nasties.

Be a responsible gatherer when you harvest it. Just cut off the tops and leave some root. That way it will be there next year.

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