Ramsons

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Ramsons

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Ramsons

©Lizzie Wilberforce

Ramsons

Scientific name: Allium ursinum
In April and May, our ancient woodlands are awash with the white, starry flowers and garlic smell of Ramsons. Millions of bulbs can exist in just one wood, giving rise to dazzling 'white carpets'.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 35cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to May

About

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

How to identify

Ramsons is an unmistakeable plant - the garlicy smell alone can be a tell-tale sign! Otherwise, look for rounded clusters of star-like, white flowers borne on straight green stems. Its leaves are grey-green, oval and narrow, and grow around the base of the stem.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but most common in the south.

Did you know?

Also known as 'Wild Garlic', the leaves and roots of Ramsons can be eaten and do smell and taste of garlic.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.