Information on Ramsons

Common Name: Ramsons
Scientific Name: Allium ursinum
Irish Name: Creamh
Family Group: Amaryllidaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Ramsons is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Also known commonly as Wild Garlic, this widespread plant carpets damp woodland in April and May with a display of spherical clusters of white, star--shaped flowers and broad, long, Lily-of-the-valley shaped pointed leaves. The individual flowers (15-20mm) are star-like and in umbels of 8-12 and the slender stem usually has only two basal leaves.  Once this perennial is picked or bruised it gives off a very strong smell of garlic.  This is a native plant and belongs to the Daffodil or Amaryllidaceae family.

I first identified Ramsons in Killiney, Co Dublin in 1979 and photographed it near Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford in 2006. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

'Years ago garlic was grown in several parts of every farm to prevent disease in cattle.  But as farmers became more "up to date" they dug it up as it was supposed to injure the flavour of their butter.'*

'Garlic steeped in milk over night and then stewed till soft and strained through muslin is a cure for lung trouble.  The mixture to be taken three times a day.'**

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin.  *NFC 107:341 from Co Wexford and **NFC S 36:246 from Co Laois.

Ramsons is also known in other countries as 'Bear's Garlic' as the brown bear was said to like eating the bulbs.  The leaves are fit for human consumption but be sure that there is no mistake in the identification as other similar leaves, such as Lily-of-the-Valley or Wild Arum (Lords and Ladies) are quite poisonous.  If you're in doubt, just smell the leaves when squeezed and if you're squeezing Ramsons, the smell of garlic will convince you that you've made the correct identification.