The wild ramp, AKA wild leek, botanical name Allium tricoccum, is a flowering perennial plant that grows in clusters. It is a member of the Allium family along with onions and leeks
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The Chinese yam is oblong, cylindric and tapered at its ends. Its skin is coarse and bark-like in texture with earth-toned coloring. Its flesh is a stark contrast of translucent white with a starchy firm texture. The yam relies on its textural and nutritional qualities for culinary purposes as its flavor is subtle and lean.
Look for Chinese yams in the fall.
The Chinese yam, botanical name D. opposita, is the edible root of a fast-growing climbing vine. It is a member of the Dioscoreaceae family, along with other perennial herbaceous vines. The yam is essentially the tuber part of the plant, most often storing nutrients and energy in the form of carbohydrates and water, which sustain the plant's growth and ability to survive adverse conditions.
Chinese yams contain high levels of acids such as amylase which aid in the digestion of starchy foods. It provides a substantial source of carbohydrates and when eaten in large quantities, it can prove a good source of protein.
Used as a vegetable, Chinese yams are a great way to add texture to stews, soups and casseroles. Experiment with favorite seasonings, herbs and spices to enhance flavor. To store, keep in a cool and dry place.
The Chinese yam has many pharmaceutical properties, giving rise to its nickname, shan-yao, meaning "mountain drug". It has been used in Chinese medicine almost as long as it has been cultivated for culinary use.
Chinese yams are warm temperate species that are not cultivated in the lowlands of Southeast Asia. They are native to regions of China that are much colder than most yam cultivars can survive. The Chinese yam has been a staple food since prehistoric times. It was introduced to Western Europe as an alternative the the white potato during the potato blight of the 19th Century. Its superior storing and shipping qualities made it a useful long-term seafaring provision. Along with the Japanese yam, it was brought to Hawaii where it is still cultivated today.