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11 Cold-hardy perennial vegetables

Posts: 2112
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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I love perennial vegetables but when I talk or write about them I often get questions from people living in cold climates.

Specifically—which ones can grow in a cold climate? This question comes up fairly often.

This week’s blog post—11 Cold-Hardy Perennial Vegetables for Your Wild Homestead—is my attempt to help people in cold climates to grow more perennial vegetables.

Let’s look at the 11 perennial vegetables covered in this post and then I want to share a tip about how to find more regardless of your climate.

Here are 11 Cold-Hardy Perennial Vegetables

I broke the blog post into 2 groups of cold-hardy perennial vegetables: greens and root crops.

Here are the greens:
1. Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
2. Scorzonera / Black Salsify – Scorzonera hispanica
3. Linden / Lime Tree / Basswood - Tilia spp.
4. English Sorrel aka Garden Sorrel - Rumex acetosa
5. Turkish Rocket - Bunias orientalis
6. Lovage - Levisticum officinale
7. Ramps aka Wild Leeks - Allium tricoccum – Note about ramps: some sources say hardy down to zone 4 some say only down to zone 5.

Here are the root crops:
8. Arrowhead - Sagittaria latifolia
9. Common Camas - Camassia quamash
10. Sunchokes - Helianthus tuberosus
11. Egyptian Walking Onions - Allium x proliferum

All these perennial vegetables are at least hardy down to zone 4 (see the note for ramps) and some are hardy down to zone 3.

Are you growing any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Finding More Perennial Vegetables

Finding perennial vegetables for your climate can be hard but there is one great way. That is to learn more about the native perennial vegetables growing wild in your area.

These plants are adapted to your climate and you can even salvage some or collect seeds/cuttings to get started on your own land.

Check out books and look for groups about foraging in your area. You can also look for resources discussing ethonobotony of your area (plants and their relationship with humans). Doing a little research on which plants are great for foraging will help you learn which plants might be good to grow on your own land.

I’ve done this in my area and I learned about checkermallows and Pacific waterleaf plus some others. These plants are quickly becoming a core part of the greens I harvest.

Have you ever done this? Is there a plant you forage for that you could grow as a perennial vegetable on your own land? And do you have any cold-hardy perennial vegetables to add to the list?

Check out the blog post for more information on all of this including details about each of these 11 cold-hardy perennial vegetables.

And while your over there please leave a comment answering any of the above questions! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.
Posts: 1123
Location: Denmark 57N
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Horseradish is a nice addition to your list, the leaves and flowers can also be eaten not just the root. Angelica (down to 4) is eaten as a vegetable in some places with not many other choices, a bit strong for my tastes but hey I'm sure one can get used to it.
Do you know if arrowhead has any heat requirements? I don't think I have ever seen it here but it sounds interesting.
Staff note (Daron Williams) :

Thanks for the comment on the blog post! You were the first so pie for you!

author & gardener
Posts: 283
Location: Southeastern U.S.
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I'm always looking for ways to expand my winter gardening. Some of these I already grow; for the others I'll have to research whether they'd survive our hot, sometimes dry (sometimes wet, too wet) summers.  Perennials are always a good way to go.
Posts: 6
Location: Maine, USA zone 5a
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In my yard I have sunchokes, horseradish, asparagus, Egyptian walking onions, chives, oregano, groundnut (indian potato), day lilies, raspberries, blueberries, alpine strawberries, an apple tree, a pear tree and a cherry tree.  I suppose I have a have a huge pile of dandelions too, but I tend to feed those to my rabbits rather than eat them myself.  I have only a 1/4 of an acre in town--but I've crammed in a lot.  With the climate creeping up, the zone when I started gardening 25 years ago was more 4, but now is closer to 5.  Now I get my kale over-wintering and becoming free-range.  I'm always looking for more perennials to add in, but room is at a premium!
Posts: 2663
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Jerusalem Artichoke - prolific, unkillable, good  root calorie crop
Rhubarb - really needs some added sugar to make it palatable. Various ways to cook and use it. Productive all growing season with sufficient water.
Wild garlic - spreads readily by seeds, and bulbils can be easily transplanted. Seems to do well as an early season ground cover before the canopy leafs out.
Nettle - for those who like it. We pick the freshest greenest new leaves to eat raw. Roll them between your fingers to break the stingers. Flavour like nutty lettuce.
BlackBerry - the very young growing tips can be steamed like asparagus. I’ve eaten some raw. Ok, but not very interesting.
Chives, garlic chives, other clumping alliums.... do well for us, but need periodic dividing, and benefit from being cut back every now and again to build vigour.
Posts: 42
Location: South-central Iowa
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Don't forget nettles! Besides the tamer and delicious asparagus, nettles are my favorite perennial veg and it's highly shade tolerant too. I have enough growing wild on the property but transplant some into my zone 2 for easy access and to keep an eye on maturity/harvestability.

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Erika Bailey.....I am truly impressed by all you've done!!
Posts: 102
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I have grown Scorzonera / Black Salsify – Scorzonera hispanica, . Sunchokes - Helianthus tuberosus,  Egyptian Walking Onions - Allium x proliferum. Moles & deer killed my sunchokes, but I have walking onions that are growing wild in the weeds outside of their bed.
Posts: 2981
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Don't forget that the leaves of horseradish are a great vegetable.  Huge leaves, much milder than the root. Kind of like collard greens, but easier to grow and with the root as an herb.  I eat them all summer and fall.  I just remove the fibrous rib in the middle of the larger leaves. I put them in many, many foods.
John S
Posts: 32
Location: Palominas, az
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I have wild sorrel growing where it gets water . It dies dimown in winter but comes back.
Asparagus, rhubarb, artichokes, sunchokes, berries, wood sorrel, opuntia cactus, purslane, wild mustard. All perrenial on my 4 acres in SE az.
100 degrees in summer, down to 10 degrees in winter at night. I protect chard , kale, mizuna, by using tomato cages and throwing quilts over.
Posts: 1173
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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I don't know exactly the climate zone here (in general they say the Netherlands have zone 7, but I live a little to the North, so it might be 6). I have many perennial edibles, most of the ones mentioned here, plus some mediterranean herbs (not fit for the colder climates) and berry bushes. Also outside of my garden, in the 'wild' (weeds growing in the suburbs, I mean) some edibles are growing. The one I like most of them is Aegopodium podagraria, which has many different English names, like ground elder and goatweed. In early spring the young leaves are very nice in a salad, and later on I eat it like spinach. I don't know if it can grow in much colder climates.
Posts: 287
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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Almost no vegetables survive our Winters (-10 to-50c), but there are a few things I can always gather/grow to eat in the Spring:

Haskap berries

Spruce Tips
Rose Hips

Here's a list of cold-hearty perennials (mostly woody species) publish by the City of Whitehorse (Yukon, Canada zone 1-2)
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Nasturtiums are quite hardy, leaves and flowers are edible with a nice peppery taste. Young seeds can be pickled to produce a caper substitute. There are some new red flowered varieties that brighten a salad up nicely. They die-off from frost and snows but germinate as soon as snow cover has melted.

Coriander and dill are other crops that survive in Uralskaya/Far Western Siberia. Strawberries are another hardy fruit that most people ignore, especially the wild forest or field strawberries. The fruit is only the size of a pea, but it is so flavoursome.

People also forget that onions and garlic can be sprouted in late winter for salad greens. It's very common in my daughters' part of Russia to sprout them for February 23 and March 8 celebrations. Windowsills are covered in jars of onion and garlic sprouts, and I have finally convinced the eldest daughter to sprout beans and seeds for salads.
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We're zone 4a in Haliburton ON. To all the great perennial greens and root plants already listed above I would add Lamb's Quarters (Pigweed), Good King Henry, wild rice, cattails, American Ginseng, Trinkleroot (great alternative to horseradish), and morels and as well as quasi-perennial mushrooms like shiitake, lion's mane and grey oyster grown in logs for 4-8 years. Further along this fungus line but not something that you eat, but rather drink is Chaga.

To add to the list of other perennials edibles that can be grown in our area are: Arctic Kiwi, Pine nuts, Acorns, Beechnuts, Elderberries, Gooseberries,  Red current, Black Currents, Chokecherries, Blackcherries, Crabapples, Hops, Wintergreen, Blueberries, Plum, Chums, Seabuckthorn, Mulberries, Pears, Grapes, Wild raspberries, Wild blackberries, Cranberries, Then there are also the syrups: Maple and Birch.
Chris Sturgeon
Posts: 287
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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I have to admit. I'm getting rather envious. Even you folks who are considered 'cold-climate' are sounding down-right tropical to me!
Daron Williams
Posts: 2112
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Skandi – Great addition to the list! Thank you for sharing! I don’t think arrowhead has any heat requirements. It grows fine here and we don’t have very hot summers at least compared to other parts of its range.

Leigh – Yeah, perennials are a great option and I think some of them could. What zone are you? If your zone 7 or higher Kosmic kale and tree collards might be a good option for you. They might need some protection from summer heat but I know of people growing them in southern California. I really enjoy them as winter greens though you can harvest them all year. They’re just a bit sweeter in the winter.

Erika – Great to hear all the ones you’re growing! Thank you for sharing!

Michael – Nice! That’s a great list—thanks for sharing!

Kirk – Nettles are a great option and I’ve left them off my lists because they’re on most other lists 😊 They really are great and my property doesn’t have any at the moment but I plan to add them as soon as I get a good area ready for them. Thanks for adding it to the list!

Janet – Me too! 😊

Joe – Scorzonera is on my list of new perennial veggies to grow next year. I’m excited to try them out. Did you grow yours by direct seeding?

John – Thanks for sharing! Great to know how to use them. I’ve actually never grown it.

Leila – Great list! Thank you for sharing!

Inge – That’s really great to hear about all the ones you got growing. Thank you for sharing!

Chris – Yeah, I stopped at zone 4 with a few zone 3 due to the challenge of finding a good number for colder zones. I would be curious about more native foods that might work as veggies. You mentioned some of the ones you gather. I wonder which ones could be cultivated? I’m growing a number of native veggies on my wild homestead—giving me a lot of good options that I don’t see very many people outside of the foraging community taking advantage of. And since some of them are rare they’re even rarely foraged. But I can grow them in abundance. Might be an option for really cold areas like yours. Thanks for sharing!

Any chance you could get build some micro-climates to push some small parts of your property to zone 3 or 4? Maybe with a nice snow cover too? I’ve never lived in an area as cold as the Yukon so I’ve got no clue if that is possible. Just thinking out loud…

Peter – Yeah, as a self-seeding annual nasturtiums are a great option. Not perennial but still great to have around. I planted hundreds of nasturtium seeds around my wild homestead this spring with the hope of having a wild population in the future. Thanks for sharing about the other veggies and herbs too! And welcome to permies! I hope to see more posts from you in the future!

Al – Yeah, lamb’s quarters is a great one. Grows here too! And the rest of your list is great too. Thank you for sharing!


Thank you all so much for sharing. It was great to see all the awesome perennial veggies you all are growing. I thought I would share too—here are the ones I’ve got growing on my own wild homestead. I've planted all of these except for the dandelions. The native ones weren't growing on my land when we moved here.

- 2 types of checkermallows (native)
- 2 types of miner’s lettuce (native)
- 2 types of wild onions (native)
- 3 types of sorrel
- Turkish rockets
- Sea Kale
- Dandelions
- Early blue violet (native)
- Oregon stone crop (native)
- Pacific waterleaf (native)
- Purple tree collards
- Kosmic kale

And I’m currently trying to get Good King Henry, Caucasian mountain spinach, and deltoid balsomroot all established but since they’re all in their first year I’m not calling them a success yet.

Soon I hope to add arrowhead and perhaps watercress to the list plus scorzonera and some others especially perennial root crops like sunchokes.

And there are some other plants growing wild on my land like lawn plantain, docks, chickweed, self-heal, and purple dead nettles that I know I could eat but I just haven’t gotten in the habit of harvesting them yet.

So many great perennial veggies to eat! Thanks again all for commenting and sharing!
Al Marlin
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Chris - I'd still encourage you to try various perennials. Haliburton can go to -40-45 in the winter and (typically) has a heavy snow load (as any truss builder would tell you) but with 'weather weirding', our winters are now yo-yoing & we have now even seen rain in January. From a grower's perspective, last frost day is in the beginning of June and first is in the beginning of Sept. So I am wondering whether our biggest difference would be light and when we have it. Haliburton sits on the 45th parallel. Currently sunrise is 5:30 and sunset is 9:00.
Chris Sturgeon
Posts: 287
Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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Daron and Al, thanks for your encouragement!

I'll try to be brief, I don't want to go too far afield from the subject of this thread; perennial vegetables.
But just because you guys are awesome and obviously thought about your responses, I'll elaborate.

Many of the species mentioned will grow here for a season, they won't perennialize though. At the 62nd parallel the Summer days are long, so I can get good growth for a season that's technically only 80 days long. We can definitely grow food, but I do very much want to plant as many successful perennials as I can.
The other surprising factor up here, is that it's arid. We get very little rain and very little snow. Whitehorse (about an hour to the South) is the driest climate city in Canada.
The other factor is a lack of worms. We don't have worms! This make everything from no-till to Ruth Stout a slightly different ball game.
So maybe that suggests a more portable container system where plants can be brought into a slightly warmer environment for the Winter?

I'll add another link even though it's not technically vegetables:

I am transplanting some wild species onto my property cause I know they've evolved to live here. Not all of them put up with transplanting, but I'll try different ways of doing it until it works!
In the meanwhile, I'm loving the challenge of figuring out Northern permaculture, some things work, somethings do not (Huglekultur turns into a permanent ice cube! ask me how I know.)
Thanks for starting a thread specifically for cold climate issues!

Currently coaxing tomatoes and basil out of my greenhouse... is there a more iconic sandwich duo?
[Thumbnail for Greenhouse-July-20.jpg]
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Bunching onions have the advantage of growing from seed, so you don't have to find or buy starts like potato onions. "Evergreen" also known as "Nebuka" is hardy to zone 4.
Caucasus Mountain Spinach Vine (Hablitzia) is super hardy, grown in Russia and Sweden.
Available from Quail Seeds in California, which makes a specialty of perennial veg, including leeks and celery that have perennial tendencies.
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my (very rough unedited) list of zone 5 or 6 perennial nuts, roots, grains, herbs, vegetables and greens that interest me. i have only personally tried about a quarter to a third of this list

Saltbush (Atriplex nuttalli)(best edible perennial saltbush?)
Giant filbert (Corylus maxima)
Caucasian caper (Capparis herbacea)(hardiness?)
Chinese yam (Dioscorea batatas)
Caucasian spinach
Hops (variety?)
Sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
Yellow lily (Nuphar lutea)
Watercress (Ontario)
Pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata)(Ontario)
Burnet (Ontario)
Ostrich fern (Ontario)
Udo ‘sun king’
Sunchoke (variety?)(pickling removes inulin effects)
Amaranth (self seeding)(species/cultivar?)(tricolor?)
Wild leeks (Ontario)
Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica)
Walking onion
Buckwheat? (10lbs/day honey per hive, 1ton/acre hay, 1500-2000lbs/acre grain)(high nutrient, bad staple)(soba)(Memil-muk)
Silphium integrifolium? (perennial oilseed)
Hostas (edible ground cover around trees)(Yuki Urui, longipes, montana, white feather, gentle giant, munchkin)
Horsetail (edible, mold/fungicide)
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)(nitrogen fixer, ground cover, honey crop, edible flower)
Comfrey (bocking 14 is sterile)(good pig food)
Cirsium arvense/foliosum (used like artichoke)?(high edible oil yield, good pig feed, edible gourmet stems, highest nectar output)
Stingless nettle (Urtica galeopsifolia)(harmful to kidneys if harvested after flowering)
Peppermint (tires)
Spearmint (tires)
Basil mint (tires)
Fennel (tires)
Lovage (tires)
Marjoram (tires)
Nepitella (tires)
Oregano (tires)
Sage (tires)
Tarragon (tires)
Thyme (tires)
Garlic chives (tires)
Lemon balm (tires)
Mitsuba (tires)
Yellow potato onion
Scallions (tires)
Myoga ginger
Asparagus (staple)
Maidens tears (Silene vulgaris)(Ontario)
Purple plantain (plantago major) (tires)
Perennial arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia)(staple)
Turkish broccoli (Bunias orientalis)(staple)
Nine star cauliflower (staple)
Volherzigen dandelion
Kaleidoscope kale (staple)
Russian red kale
Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)(hardy to zone 6 but self seeds in zone 5)(omegas)(oxalates)
Spadona chicory (oxalates)
Red vein Sorrel (oxalates)
French sorrel (oxalates)
Blonde de Lyon Sorrel (oxalates)
Glaskins rhubarb (tires)
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) (tires)
Opuntia humifusa (staple) (tires)
Japanese heartnut (Juglans ailantifolia)
Carpathian walnut
Weschke black walnut
Beckwith butternut (paired with kenworthy)
Almond oracle (late bloom)(3)
Peach almond hybrid
Aldara hazelnut
Ultra northern pecan deerstand
Chinese pecan (Carya cathayensis)
Chinquapin nut (2)(nsf)
Dunstan chestnut (pig feed?)
Pinus cembra
Pinus cembroides (mexican pine)(excellent flavor, 15mm, most proteine)
Pinus edulis (most commercial american species, 25mm, good cooked)
Pinus koreainus
Burton hican
Yellowhorn (oil)
Beech nut (oil)(Fagus sylvatica)(tortuosa?)
Dwarf sugarberry (celtis occidentalis)
Japanese pepper tree (Zanthoxylum piperitum)
Chinese toon (Toona sinensis)
English oak (Quercus robur)(black truffle tree)(10 trees)
Camellia japonica (oil)
Tea bush (sochi)
Tea oil (oleifera)
Jelly vine (Cocculus orbiculatus)
Barcelona filbert
Tonda di giffoni hazelnut
Uzbek pistachio
Pistacia atlantica
Musa basjoo (hardy banana)
Dolnamul (Sedum sarmentosum)
Bangpung (Peucedanum japonicum)
Monkey puzzle tree (need male/female trees)
Japanese cinnamon (Cinnamomum pedunculatum)
Miyako bamboo (Sasa nipponica)
Ennis hazelnut
Walnut franquette
Shellbark hickory 'J. Yoder No 1'
Torreya nucifera (Kaya)(oil, nut)
Phyllostachys aurea (sweetest bamboo shoots)
Phyllostachys edulis (largest shoots)(Moso)
Phyllostachys nidularia (most delicate flavored, best species to eat raw)
Echinops spinosissimus
Scolymus hispanicus
Yucca baccata
Flava daylily  
Yabu-kanzō (double tawny daylily)(Hemerocallis fulva)
Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus)(Ontario)
Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)(Ontario)
Jasmine ‘fiona sunrise’
Korean fairy bells (yunpan)(Disporum flavum)(namul)
Lavender (Ontario)
Lupine (toxic unless soaked)(species/variety?)
Mallow (Malva alcea/moschata/sylvestris)
Poppies (self seeding)
Sweet violet (Viola odorata)(Ontario)
Tigerlily (Ontario)
Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)(Ontario)
Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Cham-namul (Pimpinella brachycarpa)(hardiness?)
Chamchwi (Doellingeria scabra)
Cicely (Ontario)
Ephedra sinica
Garlic cress (Peltaria alliacea or turkmena)
Giant hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)(Ontario)
Lemon thyme
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Mint (orange, chocolate, apple, ginger)
Pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium)
Tsi (Houittuynia)
Negi (Welsh onion)
Yomogi (Artemisia princeps)
Bellflower (Campanula glomerata)(Ontario)
Dames rocket (Hesperis matronalis)(Ontario)
Elecampane (Inula helenium)(used as potherb by romans)(Ontario)
Fuki (Petasites japonicus)(Ontario)
Gomchi (Ligularia fischeri)
Good king henry (oxalates)
Handsome harry (Rhexia virginica)(Ontario)
Japanese milkweed (Metaplexis japonica)
Mahonia nervosa (edible leaves, fruit)
Sandwort (Honckenya peploides)
Sea kale
Sea plantain (Plantago maritima)
Thicket bean (Phaseolus polystachios)
Water fringe (Nymphoides peltata)
Oenanthe javanica (seri)
Parasenecio delphiniifolius (sansai)
Allium macrostemon (sansai)
Anemone flaccida (sansai)
Elatostema umbellatum (sansai)Kudzu (pig feed?)
Masterwort (Aegopodium podagraria)(Ontario)
Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)(Ontario)
Greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia)
Perennial lettuce (Lactuca perennis)
Pink purslane (Claytonia sibirica)
Samphire (Crithmum maritimum)
Sea beet
Chestnut (schlarbaum (japanese, most cold hardy), marrone di marradi (best tasting), bouche de betizac(cold and disease hardy))
Abies grandis (grand fir)(edible fresh needles, citrus flavor)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)(edamame like seed)  
Aralia elata
Arundinaria gigantea (z5 bamboo)
Calycanthus floridus (cinnamon alternative)(toxic)
Caragana arborescens (Siberian peashrub)(Ontario)
Carya glabra (Pignut hickory)(Ontario)
Catalpa ovata (chinese bean tree)
Cercis canadensis (redbud)(edible bean pods)
Eleutherococcus sieboldianus (ukogi)
Fagus americana (american beech)(Ontario)
Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo)(Ontario)
Gleditsia triacanthos ‘thornless’ ‘ashworth’ (honey locust)(nitrogen fixing)
Juniperus communis (european juniper)(Ontario)
Kalopanax septemlobus
Koelreuteria paniculata
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)(Ontario)
Myrica pensylvanica (wax myrtle)(bay leaf substitute)
Phyllostachys aureosulcata (z5 good to eat)
Phyllostachys propinqua (z5 good to eat)
Prinsepia sinensis (Prinsepia)(seeds have edible cooking oil)
Prunus mahaleb
Pseudotsuga menziesii (douglas fir)(citrus flavor)
Ptelea trifoliata (hop tree)(Ontario)
Pyronia veitchii
Quercus alba (large low tannin acorns)(Ontario)
Quercus dentata (emperor oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)(Ontario)
Staphylea pinnata (bladder nut)
Tilia cordata (Linden)(Ontario)
Ulex europaeus (gorse)
Ulmus glabra (scotch elm)(Ontario)
Yucca filamentosa
Zanthoxylum simulans (szechuan pepper)
John Suavecito
Posts: 2981
forest garden fungi trees books food preservation bike
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Great list! What does it mean when you put (tires)?
John S
C. West
Posts: 114
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just that i planted/will plant them in old tires lol, i didnt edit this list really just copied and pasted
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