Food Forest Plants
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ZonesLightMoistureSoil textureSoil pHFormHeightWidthRoot SpanLifespanGrowth RateNative?Edible?Medicinal?Nitrogen fixer?Ground cover?Dynamic Accumulator?Nectary?Cover crop?Notes
If Edible: Flavor Profile
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Fava Bean/Broad Bean0Full sunDrought tolerantS, L, C1annualBeanxxCold-season cover crop. Fixes nitrogen up to 150 lbs/acre. Large, protein-rich seed.
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Quinoa0Full sunDrought tolerant6 - 8.5leaves, seedsWell-suited to high elevations with warm days and cool nights. Drought-tolerant but prefers moist soil. Sow in april. Must thoroughly rinse to remove saponins before eating. "The leaves, stem-tips and young flowers are excellent in salads, having a mild sweet flavor, and very succulent. Also good cooked like spinach or added to soups." - JLHSSouth American seed doesn't seem to do well,I bought Black quinoa from a place in the San Louis Valley and its doing very well in full sun some plants are 7 feet high.The only soil additions I used were bagged steer manure tilled in 8 inches.Last year my black quinoa failed because of drought and root maggots but still managed to pop a few seeds out.Use seed sparingly as every single one will germinate,the plants will tiller out if given room and create multiple seed heads.This is definitely a plant I will stick with in the future.
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Amaranth0Full sunDrought tolerantseeds, leavesxHi protein. Drought-tolerant once established. Sown in late may/early june. Cuttings root easily. >1000 lbs grain/acre in upper midwest.
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Buffaloberry 'Sakakaweja'2Some shadeDrought tolerantS, L, Cshrub, l15'15'sxberriesxCurrant-like yellow fruit. Thorns make fruit tough to harvest.
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Serviceberry, Shadblow2Drought tolerantS (L, C)5.5-7Shrub, L18'9'berriesxGrows true to seed
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Chokecherry, Canada Red2Some shadeMoistS,L,CshrubxfruitHardy to -40 F. Nomadic plains tribes pounded the dried berries and seeds into small, circular cakes. "Processed into syrups and jellies, the flavor can be best described as tart cherry with a mellow almond flavor. Trees are adaptable to shade and grow in almost all types of soils and locations." - OTC
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Highbush Cranberry2Some shadeMoist/WetS, L, Cshrub (large)6-12'6-12'mfruitxTolerates heavy clay. Drought-tolerant once established.
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Nanking Cherry2Some shademoistS, L, Clarge shrubfruitSmall, slightly tart fruit. Reliable crop.
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Buckwheat2full sunmoist Buckwheat apparently tolerates a wide range of soil pH (Bugg, pers. comm.).leaves and seedxxxAccumulates soluble phosphorus. Edible sprouts, seeds and flour. "very fast-growing cover crop has low grain yield, but is tolerant of very cool temps, and is high in lysine. Widely used as a bee plant, green manure, "nurse" plant for seedlings, and to attract wildlife. Plant spring or late summer. Will grow on nearly any soil, but prefers light, well-drained soil."not frost hardy plant after frost danger, plant will die as seeds mature,cut and dry in sun to let green seeds mature then thresh.
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Chinese Chestnut2Full sunDrought tolerantshrub, m30'100 yrs +nuts (cooked)xVery drought-tolerant once established, succeeds in a variety of soils. Produces abundant nuts that can be used as a staple crop when cooked.
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Wild Indigo2Full sunDrought tolerant6'2'perennialfxDye plant, attractive perennial flower
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Barberry3Some shadeDrought tolerantvshrub10'6'mberriesxxthe 1/2 in fruit has a very acid flavor and is mainly used in preserves, though can be eaten raw when it is fully ripe.
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Currant, American Black3Some shadeMoist/Wet(S, L) Cberriestreatment of kidney diseases and menstrual and menopausal problems. Cree Indians used the fruit of Ribes glandulosum as a fertility enhancer to assist women in becoming pregnant.http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=RIAM2
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Sea Buckthorn3Some shadeDrought tolerantS, L, Cshrub, large20'10'15-30 yrsmberriesxProduces acidic 1/4-inch berries high in vitamins A and C. A high-quality medical oil is produced from the fruit. Less tart (but less nutritious) after a frost. As the name implies, the branches are quite thorny. Grows on dunes and sea cliffs in the wild.
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3Some shadeDrought tolerantS, L, CacidfruitxxxSomewhat drought-tolerant. Fruit is astringent, should be sweetened before eating. better after a frost or two. High in vitamin C, antioxidants, polyphenols, bioflavonoids, and tannins
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Cherry, western sand3Some shadeDrought tolerantS, L, Cherb, large5-8'xfruitxFruit up to 1 in. can be eaten raw or cooked. Shallow-rooted. Fruits best in full sun.
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Plum, American3Some shadeDrought tolerantS,L,CtreemxfruitxMost members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged.
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Sand Cherry3Some shadeDrought tolerantShrub, m3-6'3'15-30 yrsxfruitxpretty good fruit - up to 2 cm in diameter
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Sheep Sorrel3Full sunDrought tolerantacid-neutralherb6"indefperennialfleavesxxxxattracts wildlife. Detoxifier when juiced, makes lemonade-like drink when boiled. lemony flavor due to oxalic acid -> raw leaves in hi quantities will lock up other nutrients. Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots.
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Sylvetta Arugula3Full sunDrought tolerant5.5-7Herb, S1'1'2-5 yrsleavesxCommon roadside weed in many places (CO?). Prolific leaves taste bitter like Arugula. "Prefers dry soils and dislikes shade. Very resistant to heat" - PFAF.
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Chicory3Some shadeMoist4.5 - 8.5slightly acidicShrub1-2'fleaves, rootsxxx"The crisp, bitter leaves add flavor and bite to salads, and can be braised or boiled. The roots of all types can be dried and roasted, then ground for a coffee flavoring or substitute, or can be cooked and eaten like carrots or parsnips"
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Wild lupine3Moistseeds
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Austrian Winter Pea3S, L, CannualSproutsxxxGood cold-season cover crop. Edible sprouts. Fixes nitrogen at 70-125 lbs/acre. Does well in heavy soils.
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Rhubarb3Some shadeMoistS, L, Cherb5'4'fstalkTart stem is harvested in early spring. Can be eaten raw but is usually stewed with sugar or fruit. Roots have many medicinal properties. Grows best in moist, loamy soil but tolerates a wide variety of conditions.Don't harvest first year to allow roots to get established. Harvest just a few stalks per plant the second year.
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Lily of the Valley3Sun or shadeDrought tolerantherbxxAttractive ornamental. All parts of the plants are poisonous and should be used with supervision. "Lily of the valley encourages the heart to beat more slowly, regularly and efficiently, at the same time it is strongly diuretic, reducing blood volume and lowering blood pressure" - PFAF
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Motherwort3Some shadeDrought tolerantherbannualx"historically used in China to prevent pregnancy and to regulate menstruation. Motherwort is also used to ease stomach gas and cramping, menopausal problems, and insomnia..." - Wiki
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Kinnikinnick/Bearberry4Sun or shadeDrought tolerantS, Lneutral - acidicshrub, medxberriesxxSucceeds well in poor soils. Cultivars 'Anchor Bay', 'Point Reyes' and 'Vulcan's Peak' have all been mentioned as good groundcover forms. 6mm fruit is best dried or cooked. "leaves are picked any time during the summer and dried for use in infusions, liquid extracts, medicinal tea bags and tablets. The plant has the following claimed properties: anti-lithic, aromatic, astringent, disinfectant, diuretic, lithontripic, sedative (renal), stimulant (mild), tonic, urinary antiseptic." - Wikipedia
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4Some shadeMoistshrub, medium5' - 8'fberriesxHardy to -40°F, very easy to grow, and has very few pest and disease problems. Great fresh or made into preserves. Dioecious (two varieties of similar bloom time are needed for pollination.)
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Jostaberry4Some shadeMoistS,L,CShrub6'6'perennialmberriesx
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Running Juneberry4Full sunDrought tolerantS (L, C)5.5-7Shrub, M4-6'IndefmberryxGrows true to seed
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American Persimmon4Some shadeMoistxfruitxx
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Wintergreen, christmas4Partial - full shadeDrought tolerantS, LAcidicperennialfruit, leaves as teaxxx"The bright red fruits are attractive and remain on all winter. Really a good edible groundcover and will spread with its dense growth habit. Needs acidic soil with lots of organic matter." - OTC
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Comfrey4Some shadeMoists,l,c3-5'3-5'fxx (phosphorous)xxPermaculture all-star plant: cover crop, weed barrier, chicken feed, "living mulch", accumulates phosphorous, many medicinal uses, great compost activator
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Goji Berry/ Wolfberry5Full sunDrought tolerantS, L, Cshrub, mediumberries, shootsxxcan be tough to start, but once established, grows quickly & can grow in poor soil - can become invasive. recovers well from pruning. Hardy to about -15 F. Good for erosion control.
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Alpine Strawberry5Some shadeMoistS, L, Cacid-neutralshrubfruitxxTolerates heavy clay. Fruit is smaller than normal strawberries (1.5 cm) but abundant. Loses vigor after first few years. Likes pine needle mulch. Grows well with bush beans, spinach, borage, lettuce and pyrethrum
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Salad Burnet5Full sunMoistS, L, Cherb2'1'leavesMild perennial salad green with cucumber flavor. Can turn bitter in hot, dry conditions.
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Beetberry5full sunDrought tolerantshrub2'annualxLeaves, berriesxSelf-seeding annual with edible leaves and small red berries. Like its relatives Quinoa and Lamb's Quarters, the leaves contain saponins and should be rinsed before eating.
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Pinon Pine5Full sunDryneutraltree50'35's-mxnuts, needle teatraditional source of protein
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Lady's Mantle5Some shadeDrought tolerantherbperennialxxEasy-to-grow in partially shaded areas, spreads easily. "The herb is alterative, antirheumatic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, sedative, styptic, tonic and vulnerary" (PFAF)
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Lotus5Some shadeDrought tolerant5.1-8.5Herb1"1-2'mx
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Running club moss1 - 8Partial shadeDrought tolerantherb, small5-12"indefsx
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Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke)2 - 10Some shadeMoistherb, large6-12'indefperennialftubersxHeavy yield with little maintenance. Tubers sweeten after frost. Can take over if not managed. Contains inulin, which can cause indigestion. Long-term storage, boiling, or slow roasting will convert inulin to starches, making tubers more easily digestible. "The first frost kills the stems and leaves, but the tubers can withstand freezing for months" - PFAF "Whole tubers or pieces about 2 oz. should be planted like potatoes and covered to a depth of 5 in."- PFAF
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Serviceberry/Saskatoon "Pigeon Berry" (Amelanchier alnifolia var. pumila)2 - 3Some shadeMoistS (L, C)5.5-7Shrub, M15'15'15-30 yrsxberryFor inflamation and pain when fruit ingested *http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15997850xGrows true to seed. Plants fruit in 2-3 years. Hardy to -40 F
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Silverberry2 - 6Full sunDrought tolerant15-30 yrsxfruitxOGW tastier, BRN hardier. good for hedgerows, poor soils, windbreaks. Resent root disturbance. Good-smelling flowers
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Sweetfern2 - 6Some shadeDrought tolerantshrub, small3'4-8's-mteaxTolerates dry soil when grown in the shade. Leaves are astringent, blood purifier, expectorant and tonic.
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Siberian Pea Shrub2 - 9Full sunDrought tolerantShrub, large15-30 yrsfpodsGood chicken feed, seeds are 36% protein, good hedge (thorny), winter hardy, drought tolerant. New growth can be trimmed and left on ground as nitrogen-rich mulch. "The seeds are edible cooked. Small, but produced in abundance, there are 4 - 6 seeds per pod. Having a bland flavor, it is best used in spicy dishes. The raw seed has a mild pea-like flavor. The seed contains 12.4% of a fatty oil and up to 36% protein, and it has been recommended as an emergency food for humans - http://www.djroger.com/Siberian%20Pea%20Shrub.htm
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Ground Nut3 - 10Some shadeMoistS, Lneutral to v. acidicVine, M4'10'-25'mtuberxGrows naturally in low marshy areas of NE United States, forming long thin roots with tubers at intervals along their length. Can twine around neighboring plants for support, or trail on the ground. Tuber is 17% protein and takes 2-3 years to reach a sizeable harvest. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Best when harvested in autumn. stores well until the spring.
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Wood Nettle3 - 8ShadeMoistherb1-3'1-3'cooking greens, teaxstings before cooked
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Ginger, wild3 - 8ShadeMoistS, L, Cshrub, m4"1'stubersxRoots have pungent peppery ginger smell
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Echinacea3 - 8Some shadeDrought tolerants,lherb, large3-4'1-2'm-fxxPFAF: "The plant has a general stimulatory effect on the immune system and is widely used in modern herbal treatments". Drought-tolerant once established. Attracts slugs. Harvest and dry roots and/or tops of mature plants and use in teas and decoctions. Great guide to growing and harvesting: http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/herbs/coneflower.asp
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Sorrel, Garden3 - 9Some shadeDrought tolerantherb1'2'perennialleavesxLeaves are available year-round if in a good microclimate. However, "they tend to be almost tasteless early on, gradually gaining their characteristic and desired acidity and flavor as the season wears on". lemony flavor due to oxalic acid -> raw leaves in hi quantities will lock up other nutrients.
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Groundplum Milk Vetch3 to 8Full sunDryS, Lherb (small)6-15"1-2'fxleaves, fruitxxSomewhat difficult to grow, esp for transplants. "The fruits are edible. They are very juicy and taste a little like pea pods. They were eaten by Native Americans and early settlers."
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Currant, clove/buffalo3bSome shadeDrought tolerant(S, L) CxberryxOTC: one of the only currants that can be eaten raw. Best to have 2 plants for pollination. They appear to be self infertile. Hardy to -30 F. EFG: most drought-tolerant currant. PFAF: clove-scented flowers. ripens from late July and can hang on the bush until early autumn. Can also be dried for winter use.
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Welsh Bunching Onions4 - 10Full sunmoist5.5 - 8herb, medium2-3'1-2'perennials-mbulbs, leavesxxVery hardy and easy to grow. bulbs are small (.5-1 inch diameter) but have strong flavor. leaves have mild onion flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. repels insects.
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Kiwi, hardy4 - 8Moistvinefruit
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Sea Kale4 - 8Some shadeDrought tolerant6.5-8herb, m2-3'3'5-10 yrsm-fleavesxlikes good, rich, deep soil and an open and sunny position with plenty of compost and manure. drought-tolerant
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Ramps4 - 8ShadeMoistS, Lleaves, rootxPlant bulbs fairly deeply. Requires relatively rich soil. Inhibits the growth of legumes.
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Chinese Magnolia4bFull shadeMoistberryxLemony berries. Leaves can be used as tea. Does well in full shade. Drought intolerant - requires irrigation. The fully dormant plant is hardy to about 0 F, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts.
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Paw Paw5 - 7Sun or shadeMoistshrub (l)15"15"sfruitNative to SE USA - Nebraska to Florida (largest native american fruit). requires some irrigation in CO climate. Hardy to -30 F. Begins bearing in 4 - 6 years and yields up to 75 lbs per tree. Slow-growing at first, established plants average 1-2 feet growth.
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Goumi5 - 8Some shadeDrought tolerantS, Lshrub, large6-8'6-8'm - fberriesxDrought tolerant nitrogen fixer, hardy to -20 F. Great for hedges and companion planting. "The fruit must be fully ripe before it can be enjoyed raw, if even slightly under-ripe it will be quite astringent... the fruit is well hidden in the shrub and is quite difficult to harvest without damaging the plant."
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Valerian5 - 8Full Sun-Partial ShadeMoistS, L, Cshrub, med4-6'xValerian root has been shown to encourage sleep, improve sleep quality and reduce blood pressure. Dry, rocky soil produces more potent oils than fertile soil. "When grown for its medicinal root, the plant should not be allowed to flower." "Valerian (Valeriana officinalis, Valerianaceae) is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers...Valerian was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century...Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Valerian has been introduced into North America...Valerian, in pharmacology and phytotherapic medicine, is the name of a herb or dietary supplement prepared from roots of the plant, which, after maceration, trituration, dehydration processes...may be used for certain effects including sedation and anxiolytic effect." Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerian_(herb))
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Prickly Pear5 - 9Full sunDryshrub4-8'3'sxfruit, padsxneedles
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Rosemary 'arp'5 - 9Full sunDrought tolerantshrub, small/medium3-4'3-4'sherbx
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