Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia

Ramp Suppers, Biodiversity, and the Integrity of "The Mountains"


  1. Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (Boston: South End Press, 1997), 72. (Return to Text)
  2. For a discussion of the festival at Cosby, Tennessee, see Michael Ann Williams, Great Smoky Mountain Folklife (Oxford, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1995), 172-77. (Return to Text)
  3. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ramps, rams, and ramsons all apply to the broad-leaved garlic, allium ursinum. Ramson derives from the Swedish plural for rams. Several sources link this term with the sign of the ram, Aries. See Doug Elliott, Roots: An Underground Botany (Old Greenwich, Connecticut: Chatham Press, 1976), 46. (Return to Text)
  4. This practice is widely attributed to the Cherokee as something that occurred in the past. See, for instance, Runkel and Bull: "The Cherokees gathered wild leek bulbs by cutting or breaking off the little stub under the bulb--actually the stem from which roots come--and replanting it so the plant would continue to grow. This is an excellent example of resource conservation." Sylvan T. Runkel and Alvin F. Bull, Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands (Ames: University of Iowa Press, 1987), 151. (Return to Text)
  5. Ibid., 251. (Return to Text)
  6. Marilyn Singer, The Fanatic's Ecstatic, Aromatic Guide to Onions, Garlic, Shallots, and Leeks (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1981), 106. (Return to Text)
  7. William J. Darby, Paul Ghalioungui, and Louis Grivetti, Food: The Gift of Osiris, (New York: Academic Press, 1976), 2:662. (Return to Text)
  8. Jim Comstock, "Ramps in the Ink," Golden Seal20 (Winter 1994): 23. (Return to Text)
  9. See also Wayland D. Hand, Anna Casetta, and Sondra B. Thiederman, eds., Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American Folklore from the Ohio Collections of Newbell Niles Puckett (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981), 1:325. (Return to Text)
  10. Eric Block, "Organoselenium and Organosulfur Phytochemicals from Genus Allium Plants: Relevance for Cancer Protection," in Food Factors for Cancer Prevention, ed. H. Ohigashi, T. Osawa, J. Terao, S. Watanabe, and T. Yoshikawa (Tokyo: Springer, 1997), 215-21. (Return to Text)
  11. Thomas M. Zennie and C. Dwayne Ogzewalla, "Ascorbic Acid and Vitamin A Content of Edible Wild Plants of Ohio and Kentucky," Economic Botany 31 (1997): 76-79. (Return to Text)
  12. See Elizabeth M. Calvey, Kevin D. White, Jean E. Matusik, Deyou Sha, and Erick Block, "Allium Chemistry: Identification of Organosulfur Compounds in Ramp (Allium Tricoccum) Homogenates," Phytochemistry 49 (1998): 359-64. (Return to Text)
  13. Crellin and Philpott observe that allicin "has a mild stimulating action that lies behind the reputation as a counterirritant." John K. Crellin and Jane Philpott, Herbal Medicine Past and Present (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990), 2:319. (Return to Text)
  14. Beverly Brown, "Fencing the Northwest Forests: Decline of Public and Accustomed Rights," Cultural Survival Quarterly (Spring 1996), 50-52. (Return to Text)
  15. In this array of wild produce we glimpse the outcroppings of an alternative, rural economy that enables survival outside the mainstream. On the central Appalachian plateaus, a patchwork of strategies that includes gardening, wage labor, and forms of subsistence-borrow-and-barter is richly adumbrated by resources from the mixed mesophytic forest. See Rhoda Halprin, The Livelihood of Kin: Making Ends Meet "The Kentucky Way" (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), and Paul Salstrom, Appalachia's Path to Dependency (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994). (Return to Text)
  16. For a fuller account of the "industrial landscape" in the region, see Mary Hufford, "American Ginseng and the Idea of the Commons," Folklife Center News 19, nos. 1 and 2 (Winter-Spring 1997), 3. (Return to Text)
  17. Fred Holroyd, "State Agencies Send Mixed Messages in Land Use," West Virginia Coal Bell (July 1998), 4. (Return to Text)
  18. Shumate's Branch has been turned into a "coal refuse impoundment." See Mary Hufford, "Weathering the Storm: Cultural Survival in an Appalachian Valley," in Harvard Ayers, Charles Little, and Jenny Hager, eds., An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution and Tree Death in the Eastern United States (San Francisco: Sierra Books, 1998). (Return to Text)
  19. See Patricia Parker and Thomas King, "Protecting Traditional Cultural Properties," Department of the Interior Bulletin 38. (Return to Text)
  20. Hundreds of square miles in southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky have been approved for a method of coal mining known as "mountaintop removal," which removes the top of a mountain (the "overburden") in order to recover multiple seams of coal. The overburden is disposed of in coves and streams, producing a landscape of "highland mounds," "wetland drainage areas," and "valley fills." For a study of the ecological impact of this form of mining, see Stacy Edmunds (with Orie Loucks), "A Landscape View of Mountaintop Removal." M.A. thesis, Miami University, in progress. (Return to Text)