What is Ramsons?
Ramsons (Allium ursinum) (also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, sremu? or bear's garlic) is a wild relative of chives. The Latin name owes to the brown bear's taste for the bulbs and habit of digging up the ground to get at them; they are also a favorite of wild boar.
Ramsons grow in deciduous woodlands with moist soils, preferring slightly acidic conditions. They flower before deciduous trees leaf in the spring, filling the air with their characteristic garlic-like scent. The stem is triangular in shape and the leaves are similar to those of the lily of the valley. Unlike the related crow garlic and field garlic, the flower-head contains no bulbils, only flowers.
Ramsons leaves are edible; they can be used as salad, spice, boiled as a vegetable, in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil. The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia. The bulbs and flowers are also very tasty.
Ramsons leaves are also used as fodder. 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 (Denmark) where an impression of a leaf has been found. In the Swiss neolithic settlement of Thayngen-Weier (Cortaillod culture) there is a high concentration of ramsons pollen in the settlement layer, interpreted by some as evidence for the use of ramsons as fodder.