Ramsons and Nettles

Email: geoffdann@hotmail.com
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ramsons“Wild Garlic” is one of those unhelpful common names that refers to more than one plant. There are at least 8 members of the genus Allium growing wild in Britain, several of which have been called “Wild Garlic” at one time or another. However, most people use the name to refer to Allium ursinum, otherwise known as “Ramsons”. It is the only wild vegetable that almost everybody has heard of, and it is very common in woodland throughout the whole of the UK. There are a few things people mix it up with, including the highly toxic Lily of the Valley. However, none of its poisonous lookalikes smell of garlic, so they are fairly easy to avoid.

What to do with it? The whole plant is edible, but it is illegal to uproot wild plants so it’s the leaves and flowers that actually get used. You can just eat them raw, as part of a salad – the unopened flower buds pack a serious garlic punch. Ramsons soup is another popular choice, and you can also use the broad blades of the leaves to make “dolmades” – the wild British equivalent of stuffed vine leaves. However, one of the tastiest ways to use them is to simply sauté them in butter. This works particularly well when combined with another wild vegetable that is abundantly available at the moment – Stinging Nettles.


Collecting nettles is a little tricky, of course. You need a sturdy pair of rubber gloves, and maybe a pair of scissors. You only want the tip of each nettle – the smallest 4, or at most 6, leaves. When you get the home, rinse them under cold water, then blanch for 30 seconds in boiling water. This will disable their stings, and allow you to roughly chop them. Then wash and chop the Ramsons, and sauté both in butter, making sure that the Nettles and Ramsons are well mixed together. They will be ready in about three minutes, or however long it takes until most of the water has been boiled out of the pan.

2 thoughts on “Ramsons and Nettles

  1. Ben

    can you please answer this I have a question about why fungi isn’t part of the plant kingdom is it because of there structure because if its not then what makes it not a plant

    1. Geoff Dann Post author

      Hi Ben.

      Sorry for the late reply. Fungi aren’t plants because they don’t photosynthesise – they don’t use sunlight to make sugar from water and CO2. The first organisms to do this had already branched from the line that led to animals and fungi before it split into animals and fungi.



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