Non-timber forest products: ramps in the Waynesville, NC watershedThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The potential of forest farming was noted as far back as 1929, but the recognition of its importance dates back only 20 to 30 years. The U.S. market for harvested foods and medicinal plants from forests now exceeds $4 billion annually. Ramps (Allium tricoccum Aiton), or wild leeks, grow in patches in the rich moist forests of the eastern United States. They are harvested during the spring, and their use is becoming more popular. This increased harvesting pressure is forcing national forests and local municipalities to consider the long-term sustainability of plant populations. In 2010, a study was initiated in the Waynesville, NC watershed to examine the reproductive biology of ramps and to assess the field survival of their seeds. Flower stalk survival and seed production of individual ramp plants were tracked, length of time ramp seeds remain viable in the seed bank was determined, and the basic germination requirements of seeds were studied. We found that seeds will not germinate without some form of stratification and that no seeds remained ungerminated in the sample buried for 20 months in the field.