"Since the early 1990s, the garlicky allium, with a slender white bulb, dark red stem and succulent green leaves, has gone from a Southern belle to a big-city starlet, with breathless articles in glossy magazines, top billing on restaurant menus and a paparazzi-like reception when the first crates arrive at farmers’ markets in April," Sen writes. The local food movement has pushed prices as high as $12 a pound. "We’re so over winter, and we’re so ecstatic about ramps," New York City chef Marco Canora told Sen. "There’s nothing local right now. These ramps are the first local spring thing."
Lawrence Davis-Hollander, a Massachusetts ethnobotanist, said there is no definitive data on damage to ramp populations but now is the time to investigate before ramps become as rare as ginseng, another plant that used to be plentiful in U.S. woods, Sen reports. Quebec has listed the plant as threatened and banned its sale in 1995. Ramp harvesting was also banned in 2004 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. "At the rate we’re harvesting," Davis-Hollander said, "the honest answer is we don’t know the effect we’re having." (Read more)