Siberian Peashrub -Caragana arborescens
Available for purchase here
|Some Siberian Peashrub seedlings we started three weeks ago. Notice Sea Buckthorn cuttings rooting and budding in upper left of photo.|
We can think of many forest garden perennial crops for the cold climate here in Maine. I will be talking about them in a series of blog posts. Recently I talked about the Chinese Magnolia Vine (1)(2)(3) and, of course, Seabuckthorn is a favorite and you will hear more and more about that plant! Perennial plants and crops offer a low input, petro-chemical free resource. This is the foundation for future-proof agriculture. By default if an agriculture is to be called regenerative the bottom line is that it must be soil building, not soil depleting. Relentless deep tillage and poor soil conservation contributes to the majority of the 24 billion tons of topsoil lost every year on our planet. Agro-ecology represents the most effective way to restore our degraded landscape, produce high value produce for ourselves, fodder for animals, and ensure the future for those who come after us.
|Photo Credit: A. Barra-taken at Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid - Wikipedia-Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Generic License|
Siberian Peashrub is a perennial shrub legume. It grows to heights of 6–19 ft. with a moderate to fast growth rate. The plant is native to Siberia and parts of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
|peashrub pods - Photo National Park Service|
It has pod fruits which contain many seeds. These ripen in July and if left, will fall off the shrub and the seeds will grow to become a new plant very near the parent shrub. The leaves of this shrub vary from light green to dark green and are alternate and compound with many small leaflets. Somewhat showy, small, fragrant, yellow flowers bloom in May or June.
The plant has a number of uses for humans. It was taken to the United States by settlers emigrating from the area of the world where the plant is native. The original settlers brought these caragana pods and shrubs as a food source while travelling west.
Seed is eaten cooked, and while small, it is produced in abundance, with 4 - 6 seeds per pod. A bland flavor, it is best used in spicy dishes. The raw seed has a mild pea-like flavor, though perhaps should not be eaten in quantity when raw. The seed contains 12.4% of a fatty oil and up to 36% protein. A perennial plant that can produce high protein chicken feed, what more could you ask for! It has been recommended as an emergency food for humans. More than just an emergency food, this species has the potential to become a staple crop in areas with continental climates. The pretty yellow flowers and very young green pods are edible raw. This is a legume so it is probably wise to eat pods raw in moderation. The older pods are also edible but should be cooked. Both flowers and pods have a pea flavor and are good in salads. The seeds, which are similar to lentils, and can be used in the same way, also produce an edible oil.
For windbreaks the Siberian Peashrub is recommended for planting in the outer rows of multi-row plantings. It can be used to neutralize soil to prepare for further planting, as it fixes nitrogen. It is suitable for planting in single-row field windbreaks where a dense, short barrier is desired.
Peashrubs have an extensive root system and can be used for erosion control. It is a wonderful bee plant and nesting site for various songbirds.
Other uses: Other uses include: Dye, Fiber, Nitrogen fixing, and Oil.