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Nitrogen fixing trees and fast carbon pathways

 
neil bertrando
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Location: Reno, NV
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starting a resource list for n-fixers. from threads and emails currently.

so another thread of research. lots of great info out there. at some point i'd love to have searchable databases of n-fixers and fast carbon pathway support species as a resource to the permaculture community. for now I offer these links and lists and thoughts.

From Koreen Brennan

Just found this resource for nitro fixing fodder legumes, wonderful! http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Publicat/Gutt-shel/x5556e00.htm#Contents



in response:

If I were to put in sub-tropical to tropical long term canopy tree legumes, these would be at the top of my list:

carob, tamarind, ice cream bean, tipuana tipu.

mainly because I like to eat the first three and would like to get experience with the fourth after hearing about it.

I'm surprised it gets so cold in Florida, what is your location? my understanding was that zone 9 was down to 20 F? microclimate possibilities? perhaps you can get some good varieties from NAFEX http://www.nafex.org/ or the rare fruit tree associations. http://www.crfg.org/ florida rare fruit http://www.rarefruit.org/

I love the work Julia Morton did in Fruits of the Warm Climates. I'm guessing there is lots more out there now, but haven't been researching tropics in a while.

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/carob.html

tamarind, tamarindus indica http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/tamarind.html

Ice Cream Bean, Inga edulis http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/inga_edulis.html

Tipuana tipu http://www.public.asu.edu/~camartin/plants/Plant%20html%20files/tipuanatipu.html

Another FAO doc. http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/T0632E/T0632E02.htm

Suggests: prosopis sp as well.

black locust native to Southeast N. America.

casaurina pines? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casuarina Awesome non-rotting building material too.

more for understory? baptisia, lespedeza, ceanothus, tephrosia, senna, desmodium, perennial peanut, crotolaria, guessing there's many more

I have used most of the species noted in the FAO doc you shared and liked them in Hawai'i. never had an issue with spreading. if you like, cut them before seed formation. these are common n-fixers for tropical and sub-tropical use:

Gliricidia sp., Leucaena sp., Calliandra sp., Albizia sp., Acacia sp., Erythrina sp., Cassia sp., Parkinsonia sp., Inga sp., Sesbania sp., Crotalaria sp., ...

I have used cassia trees not sure on the species, birds absolutely loved them so even without N-fixing nodules, the import to the system was substantial.

other links to check out with some species listshttp://science.jrank.org/pages/3895/Legumes-Native-legumes-North-America.htmlhttp://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/factpub/factsh.htm

I've some palownia planted in zone 5-6. no experience with zone 4. there i would definitely use Robinia, Elaeagnus, Gleditsia, and consider Sophora, alnus, gymnocladus, maackia, and cladrastis as overstory, many mid- understory, shepherdia, caragana, elaeagnus, baptisia, Hippophae, cercis, alnus, maybe amorpha canescens, all dependent on water availability and soil type etc....I might even go with rhamnus although I know people are sensitive about buckthorn in the midwest.

Perhaps a useful source is oikos tree crops http://www.oikostreecrops.com/store/home.asp and

lawyer seed and plant nursery http://www.lawyernursery.com/ worth getting the seed list/catalog many more species than bare roots

I forgot about this one which is also a list topper with many functions

Moringa oleifera and other Moringa sp. not legumes but fast carbon pathways and high nutrition value http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Moringa_oleifera.html
http://moringafarms.com/
http://www.mobot.org/gradstudents/olson/moringahome.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera
http://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/factpub/FACTSH/moringa.htm
http://agroforestry.net/scps/Moringa_specialty_crop.pdf
http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/products/afdbases/af/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=1169

a permaculture article on ecologcal applications of moringa and mulberry with sites in florida mentioned http://www.perennialsolutions.org/cuba-mass-planting-moringa-and-mulberry

From Robyn Francis:

I live in humid subtropics and have some winter frosts.

The legumes I've had greatest success with are:

Perennial pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) great shrub legume, can plant quite closely, terrific chop-and-drop spp to build up mulch, and nurse plant for establishing other trees. Is affected by severe frost, however if densely planted they send out new shoots from lower stem and branches in spring. Nodulate prolifically so good N-fixers. Only live 3-4 years.

Trees:
Tipuanu tipu - grows well but can grow quite large - I have these as an emergent canopy over my subtropical food forest. See a rare volunteer seedling popping up here and there, but are not invasive - or maybe the wallabies keep them in check.

Albizzia julibrissin are great smaller tree legume and very frost hardy (seen them growing in Europe) and have had no evidence of self seeding or invasive potential here.

Cow pea as a summer annual legume are quite prolific.

I don't recommend using dolichos or desmodium app (too invasive), also honey locust is a shocking weed in our climate here where folk have grown it - spreads prolifically especially along water courses as an impenetrable vicious thorny thicket. I've also eliminated Inga edulis as a tree legume in my system, it self seeds prolifically and the birds and fruit bats spread seed into nearby rainforest areas.

Have you looked into Tagasaste (Chamaecytisus palmensis) ? It doesn't like our heavy clay but grows well in more sandy soils in subtropics and temperate areas.

from me:

a switch back to temperate climate resources
http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2011/05/plants-nitrogen-fixers.html
http://www.tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2012/09/pioneer-species-for-temperate-climate.html
http://tcpermaculture.com/plants.html



What is definitely lacking on this list are non-N-fixing fast carbon pathways. lots out there, often called weeds which need re-assessment regarding utility and ecosystemic management.

feedback, comments, improvements, and additions welcome.
 
John Polk
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A lot of those links were not working for me.

 
neil bertrando
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John Polk wrote:A lot of those links were not working for me.



Thanks John. I appreciate the quality control. I checked all the links and they all worked for me today except the temperate ones at the end. I fixed the problem which was three links bundled into one. now they work, I just double checked them.

please try again and let me know if something is not working.

for tropical and subtropical this is a great factsheet resource for nfts

http://www.winrock.org/fnrm/factnet/factpub/factsh.htm

Would it be worth compiling all these resources into a sorted plant list similar to the temperate climate permaculture site for temperate plants? does anyone want to collaborate on this?

 
John Polk
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neil bertrando
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Location: Reno, NV
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Robert Markham
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Location: SE Missouri
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I can't say for anywhere else, but in Southeast Missouri, there are 5 nitrogen fixing trees.

Well, we only studied 5 in my dendrology class. I'm sure there are more.

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissan)
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Black Locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia)
Red Bud (Cercis canadensis)
Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus diocus)
 
David Hartley
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For those in the PNW: Red Alder (Alnus rubra)
 
Rick Valley
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I was asked to tell about my first project I took up after finding out about this stuff called permaculture. I'd gone to a permaculture conference at Breitenbush Hot Springs; it was 1981, and I was recently returned to the NW USA from living in Ecuador and traveling around most everywhere in S. America that wasn't tropical rainforest. When I got back to the US I landed broke in Tucson and had to work for a bit to get money to get back to the NW. I ended up working for an ethnobotanist, and he'd put more wild ideas in my head. At Breitenbush I sat in on the session on bamboo twice, and heard that there was no nursery specializing in bamboo in the NW, and resolved to start one. They'd also said that bamboo liked nitrogen, and I read in The Future Is Abundant (an amazing book)about Black Locust being a nitrogen fixing hardwood tree. So when I found out my new employer's in-laws had land on Sauvie's Is, just outside Portland, I asked them if I could plant a nursery plot there. I bought ten Black Locust seedlings from Northwoods Nursery to interplant with the bamboo. Things grew well. I did take a truckload of manure to get the bamboo moving, because the ground was sandy dredge spoil from the Columbia channel and not very fertile. As the locusts grew, I trimmed the branches back so they'd grow into nice poles and not shade the bamboos too much. The cut branches went to mulch the bamboos. I about 4 years I was getting nursery stock divisions from the bamboos and by 1989, at a Restoration Forestry Conference that Mssr. M. Pilarski convened at Lost Valley Education Center, in a crowd of Foresters, Earth Firsters, Loggers and Tree Planters, I realized I was the only one who had planted a tree, grown it up, cut it down, built something with it, and still had the same tree growing. Maybe not as big, but more trunks! Black Locust! By 2007 I was no longer dividing out clumps of bamboo from the plot: the bamboo harvest was poles. Some poles were 4 inch diameter, 25 feet long. Just the pole- the bamboo was maybe 45 feet tall. The Black Locusts that had never been cut down were 50-55 feet tall, and too big around for me to hug 'em and touch fingers. The suckers that grew from the roots of locusts I cut down for posts and other uses were big enough to make large arbor posts by quartering logs. And the bamboos have always been a nice dark green, never needing supplemental nitrogen. My former employer lives on that lot now, next to the in-laws, and both families have always loved the blooms on the locusts in early summer.
I mostly use Black Locust for outdoor construction- posts, arbors, gates and such. I usually work it green, riving the logs with hammer and wedges and hewing off the sapwood with axes and adzes.I haven't yet seen one of the posts I've set rot and fail. Over 20 years in ground contact for some of them. But you don't have to do rough work. Boat builders love it, and it makes beautiful hardwood furniture. I'll post a picture of the plate I got this year from my favorite wood turner in the Eugene area. Any of the scrap makes firewood that has more heat to yield than mild coal. And I like to eat the flowers, which of course the bees also enjoy.
I don't think real highly of nativists who cut down Black Locusts and then poison the stumps because they don't know how to girdle a tree. (see the article on Black Locust in the Permaculture Activist, back a year or so) Maybe they just like to use herbicides.
I've used many other N-fixers with bamboo: Alders, including Red, Italian and Nepali, (they work great- but the wood is less useful than locust) Kentucky Coffee Tree (they don't like my climate, or maybe didn't have their rhizobium) and shrubs like Eleagnus and Ceanothus. (good for early succession) And Broom, although it gets people very upset because they hate it. I've been called dangerous because I said online that I could work with Scot's Broom and it improved the growth of other plants. (NB: I did NOT say I introduced broom in that case.) This person also did not disclose that they have been paid very well, thank you, to supervise contractors to mow and slash stands of broom because they've gotten the public to think of broom as an incredible menace to Western Civilization (that same civilization that has done so much to preserve the native ecology of N. America) I'll just note that I always grow much more than bamboo and black locust, and generally have native plant diversity much increased before I'm done, starting with lovely post-ag scenarios like dredge spoil with Eurasian weeds or a derelict strawberry field contaminated with pesticides to name two examples. So I'll build my grape arbor with black locust and bamboo, and the native fanatics can build theirs with pressure treated poison wood.
 
osker brown
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Location: Southern Appalachia
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Just wanted to put it out there that the following have been mentioned in this thread and all are thought to be non-nodulating Possible nitrogen fixers (meaning they either don't fix nitrogen or don't fix very much)

Honey Locust- Gleditsia triacanthos (plenty of other reasons to grow this one)
Red bud- Cercis canadensis
Kentucky coffee tree- Gymnocladus dioicus
American Yellowwood- Cladrastis kentukea (also known as C. lutea)

peace
 
Rick Larson
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I'm going to try some siberian pea shrubs:

http://www.bountifulgardens.org/prodinfo.asp?number=TSI-7766#.UP0whCc0XTo
 
Matt Smith
Posts: 181
Location: Central Ohio, Zone 6A - High water table, heavy clay.
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I put in about 10 siberian pea shrub whips a few years ago. They were just little things and I thought I lost them all to gnawing critters that winter (most likely rabbits or groundhogs). Just noticed the other day that two of them along the back of a building survived... and one is now taller than me and almost two inches around at the base. So, once they take they go fast. I've heard of them being kind of nuisance-y, so I'm waiting to see how they behave. This is a pretty marginal area, so I'm not too worried.
 
Cal Burns
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I've been looking into this very thing for my area of Texas. Here are a few that I'm investigating - nitrogen fixers---black locust, mesquite, alder, and, in low-frost climates, acacia (protein,edible seed pods,extremely drought-tolerant), algoroba, tagasaste, and carob.
 
Matt Saager
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Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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A couple more:

Sea Berry
Jujube

I believe both are in the buckthorn family.
 
gordo kury
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If you want a N fixing beauty which can grow even in swamps and wetlands I recommend you try Erythrina crista-galli erythina crista-galli (ceibo)
by the way, its flower is the national flower of Argentina, so don't cry for it
 
andrew curr
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Me and my livestock LOVE honey locust,(if you google ABC radio :'one mans weed is another mans feed' ) you get to hear my rave
I saw a tree legume in Sydney recently its pods /leaves were a bit like cassia but the bark was rough like angophera any ideas?
 
scott romack
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Excellent list, thanks!
 
gordo kury
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pata de vaca Bauhinia forficata is also excelent, and beautiful too. Gorgeous flowers and many therapeutic uses for the leaves, amazing
 
Xisca Nicolas
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neil bertrando wrote:If I were to put in sub-tropical to tropical long term canopy tree legumes, these would be at the top of my list:

carob, tamarind, ice cream bean, tipuana tipu.


I have read that tamarind is not fixing nitrogen.
I have the same doubt for carob...
 
scott romack
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I believe tamarind and carob are closely related.
Bummer if they don't fix nitrogen but they are still cool trees with edible pods..
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Well...
"While previously not believed to form nitrogen fixation nodules typical of the legume family, carob trees have been identified more recently with nodules containing bacteria believed to be from the Rhizobium genus."

And this is my reference for tamarind, they quote "none" for N fixation.
http://plants.findthedata.org/l/63/Tamarindus-indica

They are both interesting and both from the Caesalpinioideae family, but not the same tribe
and I find them very different about they climate requirement and carob is dioecidous.

I have planted some carob, and I sow tamarind, and still don't know if I will plant my seedling in my place!
Big tree and needs water... That they say it stands drought is not enough when they also say it needs between 1000mm and 2000mm of rain!
 
gordo kury
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some native legumes are growing like crazy in my land and they are beautiful. One is this legume tree called Sesbania Punicea (the vulgar name around here is café de la costa), wich grows really fast: I have one close to the hose that grew from seed to 3 meters, or 10 foot, in 6 to 7 month. It has beautiful flowers and nice woody legumes. I have no idea if it is edible, I heard its poisonous even for birds, so I wont try it just now... may be later
and another one is a rampant that grows also extremely well around here, it looks like a green bean of sorts, its name is Vicia Sativa(haba guacha, arbejita silvestre), I heard it's not edible but for people around here almost no wild plant seems to be edible, so I don't know, any thoughts?
 
neil bertrando
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got notified of an apple, so I'll add some more.
I use in Reno, NV usda zone 6ish, hot, dry, etc.

additional n-fixers
Amorpha sp., several
Fallugia sp.
Cowania sp.
Purshia sp.
Chamaebatia sp
Dalea sp.
lotus sp.
Thermopsis sp.
lathyrus sp.


in addition to all the great n-fixers

non-n fixin fast carbon pathways

always a fan of native grasses. ones that work well for me are indian ricegrass, needle and thread, western wheatgrass, squirreltail, hoping to transition to basin wildrye.

forbes, shrubs, trees, etc.
Orach, Atriplex hortensis
Arugula,
Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila
Mulberry, Morus alba
Rubber rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus naseousus
Walking Onion, Allium cernuum
Lovage,
comfrey, symphytum sp.
alfalfa, medicago sativa
sweet clover, melilotus alba
buckwheat,
yarrow golden, Achillea sp.
yarrow meadow, Achillea millifolium
mullien,
tumble mustard, Sysimbrium altissimum
kochia, Kochia scoparia
russian thistle, Sasola kali

last couple I use because they're already here, great for harvesting nutrients without added water, i run em through my vermicompost system first whenever possible

I'm also trialing succulents to protect the soil.
hardy ice plant, Delosperma sp.
yucca baccata
yucca glauca
Agave parryi
cactus, Echinocerus sp.
stoneplant, sedum sp.
cold hardy prickly pear, opuntia sp.
Palmers penstemon, penstemon palmerii

would like to try more from HIgh and Dry book by Robert Nold

got tons of useful and edible natives starting in our nursery, plus seedling fruit and nut trees, perennial veggies, herbs, and annuals
might be worth perusing our catalog for some options. http://www.rtpermaculture.org/?page_id=17

that's it for now. back to packing bare roots
 
David Goodman
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@Matt Saager

Jujube is a nitrogen-fixer?
 
Neal Spackman
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David Goodman wrote:@Matt Saager

Jujube is a nitrogen-fixer?


If you're talking about the ziziphus family, it is believed that they are nitrogen fixers. Here's some research:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22763811--a previously unknown nitrogen fixing bacteria was taken from soil surrounding a zizyphus in China.
 
David Goodman
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Thank you, Neal - very interesting. I like double-duty trees. We planted four jujubes on my property last year. I have noticed them to be resilient and low-need.
 
gordo kury
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Mimosa Pudica is coming strong on my land, is that a good thing? I hear it is a nitrogen fixer, but other than that, wich animals can eat it?
 
jack goldsmith
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does anybody know if a American Elm tree a nitrogen fixing tree ?
 
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