John Elliott wrote:Loofah. Yes, those bath sponges come from a vine that does very well climbing up pine trees. Sometimes you see the seeds sold as 'Chinese okra'. If you harvest the fruits when they are okra sized, they do have the crunch and the texture of okra, but the taste is kind of a cross between a cucumber and dish soap. I never had enough patience to figure out how to purge them of the soapy taste, so I just let them mature and used them for bath sponges.
Cool I actually planned on trying to grow some this year and have one ready to be planted outside as soon as it stays warm enough. I think I will plant it at his house and a few more seeds under the pines. It will at least be fun for my granddaughter to grow her own sponges.
I wonder if prickly pear cactus would do on in zone 6. I need to do a little research. Thanks
- i'm not sure whether other plants are pushed off by the Thyme or by the Pines!!
Certain other geophytes grow here under pines as well: Daffodil, Cyclame, and others that I don't remember.
I think that main problems with Pines are that 1) secrete certain substance that prevents sprouting, and 2) they block the light (like any other forest)
so I THINK that if a plant had been sprouted elsewhere, or before the pine grove was planted, then certain kinds will succeed.
Also, specific kind of edible mushrooms, but only after certain rain and climate conditions.
I was reading here that also rare kinds of orchids can grow under pines - but I never paid attention to these
(sorry - hebrew text - you can try using google-translate: Myths and realities of pine trees (Hebrew) )
I wonder if prickly pear cactus would do on in zone 6. I need to do a little research.
There are many, many species of Opuntia, so there are probably some that do well in zone 6 and in shade. That said, the type grown and sold in Mexico as 'nopal' is usually in full sun and doesn't have to put up with anything colder than zone 9. I would also think that there has been some selective propagation going on with the type that is farmed in Mexico and just any old Opuntia that you find growing wild could have some off-putting tastes. I have noticed that while the fruit of most wild Opuntia are sweet and tasty, the cladodes (paddles) can have bitter or astringent elements to them.
Best thing to try would be to get some food grade cladodes from the local Hispanic grocery store and stick them in the ground and water them. You'll find out next winter whether they can take the cold. The way that climate zones are migrating north (global warming), you may soon be living in a zone where they do just fine. It's also one crop that is definitely drought tolerant.
In general herbs and root vegetables will do better in shade than most plants.......I plant herbs in the shadiest parts and carrots and potatoes in places of partial shade. They seem to do alright.
You could also put nitrogen fixing plants in just to help feed the soil
Here are pine understory polyculture plants: there are a lot more and especially if you are in warmer zones than MN...You could also search in Plants for a Future Database for shady, acidic and dry soils. I haven't planted it myself but a Lingonberry too, if you can get more sun and water to the site.
Rhododendron Rhododendron PJM
Cinnimon Fern Osmunda cinnamomea
Sensitive Fern Onoclea sensibilis
Ostrich Fern Matteuccia struthiopteris
Yew 'Emerald Spreader' Taxus cuspidata 'Monloo'
Currant Ribes 'Redlake'
Blueberry northblue Vaccinium 'Northblue'
Blueberry northcountry Vaccinium 'Northcountyr'
Bunchberry Cornus canadensis
Gooseberry Ribes missouriensis
Maidenhair Fern Adiantum pedatum
Wild Ginger Asarum canadense
Bleeding Heart Dicentra spectabilis
Forget-Me-Not Jack-Frost false forget-me-not
Rue Anemonie Anemone thalictoides
Starflower Trientalis borealis
Wintergreen Gautheria procumbens
Baneberry Actea pachypoda
Redbud Northern Tree Cercis canadensis
Speckled Alder Alnus rugosa
Opuntia humifusa, which Chrissy probably has growing under pines in her area is very cold hardy if sourced from the northern end of it's range, same with O. macrorhiza. They can both have decent little fruits, it just depends on the individual plant. I have an O. macrorhiza that tastes almost like anise, and another one that tastes like green yuck. Get a pad from one with decent fruits if you can. O. engelmanniican be very cold hardy, has beautiful white spines, and is a very large plant. It has the most consistently tastey fruit here in Texas. O. ellisiana is spineless, cold tolerant, and the cladodes are good eats. I cooked some last sunday with eggs and sausage. The nopal found in grocery stores is O. indica. It does have some cold tolerant varieties, but I have only seen them in Europe where it grows right up to the foothills of the Alps as an escapee/invasive. The varieties in grocery stores are all from Mexico and won't survive much north of zone 9b. The larger prickly pears would like some protection in zone 6, possibly a pile of rocks to their north. The smaller ones desiccate in the cold and perk back up in the spring.
There are low growing prickly pears that make it all the way into Canada:
O. humifusa, O. macrorhiza, O. fragilis, and O. polyacantha which is super spiny.
Some yuccas also grow under pines, and are more cold hardy than one might realize. They're deer resistant and can form an impenetrable barrier as a mass planting.