Reddish Vale Country Park
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Ramson or wild garlic is 10-50cm tall and smells strongly of garlic, to which it is closely related. It normally has two, elongated basal leaves, with long stalks. The stems are otherwise without leaves and unbellate clusters of star shaped white flowers form at the tip.
Ranson is typically found in wet deciduous woodland with a loamy, nutrient-rich soil.
Ramsons are also known as, buckrams, wild garlic, wood garlic and bears garlic. The specific name derives from the fact that brown bears like to eat the bulbs of the plant and dig up the ground to get to them, as do wild boar.
Cows that have fed on ramsons give milk that slightly tastes of garlic, and butter made from this milk used to be very popular in 19th century Switzerland.
The first evidence of the human use of ramsons comes from the Mesolithic settlement of Barkaer in Denmark where an impression of a leaf has been found. In the Swiss Neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier there is a high concentration of ramsons pollen in the settlement layer, this has been interpreted as evidence for the use of ramsons for fodder.
It has very broad leaves that make it an excellent, pungent addition to a salad. Ramsons has many of the same medicinal uses as Garlic and a long history as a healing herb, as this ancient Old English rhyme attests:
Eat Leeks in Lide and
Ramsons in May
And all the year after
Physicians may play!
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