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Friday, February 20, 2015

Plant Profile - Siberian Peashrub - (Caragana aborescens)

Siberian Peashrub - One of the most talked about plants in permculture.

This is what the  Agroforestry Reasearch Trust  has to say about the Siberian Peashrub:

"Siberian pea shrub. A large leguminous shrub from Siberia, reaching 6 m (20 ft) high and growing some 40 cm per year. The seeds, produced in numerous pods following yellow flowers, are edible when cooked (having a pea flavour), as are the young pods. A fibre is obtained from the bark. Bees visit the flowers and the species is a good fixer of nitrogen. A very hardy hedging and windbreak tree, hardy to -40°C."

Key benefits to your perennial food forest garden of Siberian Peashrub:
  1. "Peas" when young pods are picked are delicious
  2. Yellow flowers have a pea flavor and can be used in salads.
  3. Mature pods contain 34% protein and are excellent animal fodder.  This is especially useful for your chickens.  They love em. They do not contribute to livestock bloating
  4. This plant is a nitrogen fixer
  5. Perennial and extremely hardy.  (-40 to -50 degrees F)
  6. Very tolerant of poor soils, and drought conditions.
  7. Excellent windbreak, may aid in your micro-climate design 
  8. Wide soil PH tolerance or 5-8.5
  9. Prefers full sun and can tolerate some shade.
  10. Fiber can be obtained from the bark.
  11. Bees love the flowers (nectar plant)
  12. Provides cover and home for native birds
  13. Begins producing in year 2-3 and yield - good data unavailable but large yields can be expected from mature plants.
  14. A blue dye can be obtained from leaves.
  15. Lacewings prefer to lay eggs and parasitic wasps prefer to rest on Siberian Peashrub leaves.
  16. Helps restore and rejuvenate poor soil
  17. Trimmings can be used as a great mulch.

close view of leaves
mature pea pods from Siberian Peashrub

Easy to grow from seed.

I started these about 10 days ago.  It may have been a little early, but I was testing seed viability. Looks like nearly 100% germination.  As the story goes, Siberian peasants used the seeds and pods as fodder for their chickens over winter.  This is a real versatile, useful, and potentially a survival must for your garden.  One note of caution, there is some concern of invasivness.  My general opinion is that it is not.  It can take advantage of disturbed or degraded areas as a pioneer plant and most species are thorny.  Rebuilding soil and the other advantages outweigh evidence of unwanted spread of this plant.  
We have seeds and plants for sale this spring.  Visit for all the choices. 

All the very best to everyone.  I am still confident winter will change into spring this year.  After such a cold and snowy winter, spring is going to feel absolutely wonderful!

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