Ramps are a species of wild onion (Allium tricoccum) native to the woodlands of North America. They look like scallions but have broad leaves and a purplish stem. Ramps are among the first plants to appear in the spring, typically showing up in the Appalachian region in mid-March and around the Great Lakes in early April.
Ramps (which are sometimes called wild leeks or spring onions, adding to the confusion) look like scallions, but they’re smaller and slightly more delicate, and have one or two flat, broad leaves. They taste stronger than a leek, which generally has a mild onion flavor, and are more pungently garlicky than a scallion.
There are many ways to enjoy ramps: raw, sautéed, roasted, grilled, and pickled too.
They grow in low mountain altitudes from South Carolina to Canada. In many areas, they’re considered a spring delicacy and a reason for celebration. Harvesting ramps has a long tradition in the Appalachian region of the United States, with West Virginia particularly well known for its many festivals and events. Ramp festivals are also held in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.