Ramsons

Allium ursinum

About

Ramsons spend most of the year as bulbs underground in ancient, damp woodlands, only emerging to flower and leaf from April onwards. This early spring flowering allows them to make the most of the sunlight that is still able to make it to their forest floor habitat and attracts the attention of plenty of pollinating insects including hoverflies, butterflies and longhorn beetles. Millions of bulbs may exist in one wood, causing the white, starry carpets and strong garlic smell we so keenly associate with this flower.

How to identify

Ramsons are unmistakeable - the garlicy small alone can be a tell-tale sign! Otherwise, look for their rounded clusters of star-like, white flowers borne on straight green stems in April and May. Their leaves are grey-green, oval and narrow, and grow around the base of the stem.

Where to find it

Grows in most areas of the UK, but most common in the south.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for a range of spring flowers, from garlic-smelling Ramsons to showy Bluebells, delicate Wood Anemones to pretty Primroses. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting and ride maintenance open up the woodland floor to the sun, helping many flowers and plants to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to raising awareness about woodland wildlife.

Species information

Common name
Ramsons
Latin name
Allium ursinum
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 35cm
Conservation status
Common.