Ramsons

Main part of the plant which is used for food is leaf. It has been collected before or in the first phase of flowering, mainly in April. Leaves of A. ursinum is a common “wild” vegetable in Ukraine, Russia, and Caucasus and becoming increasingly popular in the Lithuania, Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. Fresh or boiled leaves are used to add taste to salads, soups, sauces and savoury dishes as a vegetable. Bulbs are used as a spice for some dishes, salads and meat. Flowers are rarely used for decoration.

The ramsons is considered a healthy food used in traditional medicine as an antihypertensive, antiatherosclerotic, antimicrobial, antidiarrhoeal and antiphlogistic agents. It is consumed fresh or cooked in different dishes. The leaves of A. ursinum are rich in flavonoids and vitamin C, showing a antioxidant, fungistatic, and cytotoxic activity.

IMAGE REFERENCE:
Inflorescence of Allium ursinum. Photo by Birutė Karpavičienė
Latin name:
Allium ursinum L.
Order, Familiae:
Asparagales, Amaryllidaceae
Part of specie used:
Bulbs, Flowers, Leaves
Usage:
Decoration, Fodder & animal feed, Foodstuff, Natural medicines, Nutraceuticals, Reproductive materials
ID & ECOLOGY

Allium ursinum is a bulbous, perennial plant, that stays in one place for more than 80 years. All parts of plant has a characteristic garlic-like smell and flavor. The bulb is narrow, formed from a leaf base. Leaves 1–2, bright green. The leaf blade elliptical 10–25 cm long and 2–7 cm wide with a petiole up to 20 cm long. The stem is 15–60 cm in height, triangular in cross-section. The inflorescence is an umbel of five to 35 white flowers, 16–20 mm in diameter and starts with blooming in a period April – June. It provides an excellent spring bee pasture with good nectar flow. Honeybees collect both nectar and pollen from morning to evening. A. ursinum reproduces mainly by seeds which mature in June – July. The plant reaches reproduction maturity at 4-5th year of vegetation.

A. ursinum is widespread across Western and Central Europe with a few scattered locations in Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Caucasus and the Nordic countries. It grows in species-rich deciduous woodlands with moist soils, where it can cover large areas as pure stands. It is considered to be an ancient woodland indicator species. In earlier centuries, this species was cultivated as a vegetable, medicinal and spice plant in Central and North Europe.

MANAGEMENT

A. ursinum is listed in the Red Data Books of some European countries, e.g. Belarus, Denmark Finland, Lithuania, Latvia. Nevertheless, ramsons is collected by individual pickers even there.

Cultivation trials have been started in recent times. In Germany, Lithuania and mountainous regions of Caucasus it is sometimes transplanted into home gardens. However, the cultivation is not economic and some populations of A. ursinum suffer from harvesting pressure due to increasing demand. Moreover, the threat may be caused by the destruction of habitats. Flowers and ripening fruits of A. ursinum is effected by fungal diseases and frosts in clear cuttings areas and thinned forests, where seed production often fails.

TRADE

Europeans most important ramsons producers are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Serbia, Switzerland, Romania, but there are still no data of production quantities and areas.

COUNTRY SPECIFICS
  1. Lithuania – meškinis česnakas, platenis, žalčio česnakas
  2. Latvia – laksis, meža loks, mežloks
  3. Serbia – sremuš
REFERENCES

Bagiu, R. V., Vlaicu, B., Butnariu, M., Chemical composition and in vitro antifungal activity screening of the Allium ursinum L. (Liliaceae), International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 13(2), 2012, p.1426–36.
Błażewicz-Woźniak, M., Michowska, A., The growth, flowering and chemical composition of leaves of three ecotypes of Allium ursinum L., Acta Agrobotanica, 64(4), 2011, p.171–180.
Ernst, H. O., Population biology of Allium ursinum in northern Germany, Journal of Ecology, 67, 1974, p.347-362.
Farkas, Á., Zajácz, E, Nectar production for the Hungarian honey industry, The European Journal of Plant Science and Biotechnology, 1(2), 2007, p.125-151.
Fritsch, R., Friesen, N., Evolution, Domestication and Taxonomy, In H. Rabinowitch & L. Currah (Eds.), Allium Crop Science: Resent Advances. Wallingford: CABI Publishing, 2002
Hæggström, C.-A., Hæggström, E., Carlsson, R., von Numers, M., Allium ursinum (Alliaceae) in Finland, Memoranda Societatis Fauna Flora Fennica ,92, 2016, p.54-78.
Jarić, S., Popović, Z., Macukanović-Jocić, M., Djurdjević, L., Mijatović, M., Karadzić, B., Mitrović, M., Pavlović, P., An ethnobotanical study on the usage of wild medicinal herbs from Kopaonik Mountain (Central Serbia), Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 111(1), 2007, p.160–75.
Karpavičienė, B., Intensity of generative and vegetative reproduction of Allium ursinum, Botanica Lithuanica, 9(1), 2003, p.3–12.
Karpavičienė, B., Distribution of Allium ursinum L. in Lithuania, Acta Biologica Universitatis Daugavpiliensis, 6, 2006, p.117-121.
Kęsik, T, Błażewicz-Woźniak, M., Michowska, A. E., Influence of mulching and nitrogen nutritionon bear garlic (Allium ursinum L.) growth, Acta Sci. Pol., Hortorum Cultus, 10(3), 2011, p.221–233.
Rola, K. , Taxonomy and distribution of Allium ursinum (Liliaceae) in Poland and adjacent countries, Biologia, 67(6), 2012, p.1080–1087.
Sobolewska, D., Janeczko, Z., Kisiel, W., Podolak, I., Galanty, A., Trojanowska, D, Steroidal glycosides from the underground parts of Allium ursinum L. and their cytostatic and antimicrobial activity, Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, 63(3), 2006, p.219–23.
Stajner, D., Popović, B. M., Canadanović-Brunet, J., Stajner, M., Antioxidant and scavenger activities of Allium ursinum, Fitoterapia, 79(4), 2008, p.303–5.

POWERED BY

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The INCREDIBLE project aims to show how Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) can play an important role in supporting sustainable forest management and rural development, by creating networks to share and exchange knowledge and expertise. ‘Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean basin’ (INCREDIBLE) promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation to highlight the value and potential of NWFPs in the region.

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Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean basin’ (INCREDIBLE) project receives funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement Nº 774632