MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Self-quarantine does not mean that you can’t spend some time in the great outdoors, and collecting ramps is a fun activity for the whole family. Ramps have longer leaves in the shape of rabbit ears. 

Ramps have “rabbit ear” leaves and smell like an onion

The Wolfe family discovered ramps in their backyard. They say what really gave the plant away was its smell. 

“I know my dad did eat them at one point, and you never forget the smell,” said Nate Wolfe, “When I was walking and I saw them, I pulled them out and smelled them.”

Ramps have been described as having a garlic or onion smell. The smell is known to follow you around long after you’ve eaten them.

“If you eat enough of them, you’ll actually put out an odor through your pores,” said Nate, “so you want to be careful where you go after you eat some.”

Nataline Wolfe and Zander Walker wash and cut the roots off of the ramps they picked

The Monongahela National Forest recently announced some guidelines for harvesting ramps to ensure that Appalachians can have the tradition of harvesting ramps for years to come. Here are the guidelines:

  •  Collect ramps only in patches with more than 100 plants.
  •  If you find a patch that has already been harvested, move on to another area.
  • When collecting ramps from a large clump, take only one-fifth of the plants. Leaving behind the majority of the plants will allow them to mature and go to seed, and the patch will recover faster.
  • If digging bulbs, use a soil fork or a small hand trowel and a knife, rather than a large shovel. Shovels disturb the root system of neighboring ramps and other plants much more than these smaller tools. To dig ramps, loosen the soil with the soil fork or hand trowel and use the knife to cut the ramp roots beneath the bulb.
  • After you dig up a ramp, cover the bare soil with leaves. This will reduce the likelihood of invasive species taking root.
  • If you find a patch that has already been harvested, move on to another area. And when collecting ramps from a large clump, take only one-fifth of the plants. 
Ramps have roots at the end of the plants

Ramps can be put in soups or sautéed with vegetables. The Wolfe family says the especially like ramps on pizza. 

Watch: Fried potatoes and ramps recipe