What a wondrous thread! There is SO MUCH priceless information here about what is edible and where it grows. May I share? I've two related books, "Edible Perennial Gardening" by Anni Kelsey, and "The Minimalist Gardener" by Patrick Whitefield. Both books reference some perennial vegetables (sea kale, Daubenton's kale, sea beet, etc.) which I'd be hard-pressed to find in my area (sw Ohio) but many of the plants grow on multiple continents. Here are the more or less permanent edibles in my 50' x 25' yard:
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian mountain spinach, perennial) I just planted these seedlings out for the first time this spring. Hope the slugs don't find them.
Allium cernuum (Nodding wild onion)
Allium tricoccum (Ramps) - they are not in an ideal spot and have been languishing - will divide and move to a shadier/woodsier spot. The leaves have a very intense garlic/onion flavor.
Common garden chives
Corylus americana (American hazelnut) (Five years old, no nuts yet)
Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) - the berries from this can be dried and used as seasoning.
Mountain mint (teas!)
Marsh Mallow (the actual plant - roots used for tea)
Viburnum opulus (Cranberrybush viburnum a.k.a crampbark) (I've not sampled the berries which are edible but can cause stomach upset raw. Also recently discovered that its bark has medicinal properties. I've not tried it out yet. The "bush" has gotten immense!)
And the self seeding volunteers
Purslane (a slightly tangy, fleshy leaf with a lot of Omega-3)
bittercress (like other cress, slightly peppery)
dandelion (Harvest roots in early March or before they start trying to flower for best taste. I cook and eat them, and they remind me of artichokes with a somewhat bitter aftertaste. Wait too long to harvest, and they are bitter as can be, but still OK for teas. The greens are also best in March, )
Hopi red dye amaranth (young leaves in salad, mature leaves in soups/cooked, and I think the seeds are edible as well)
rustic arugula (sylvettica)
Currant bushes would be nice, as I adore currants, both red and black!
Have considered, but not planted, chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa) for the berries (have to cook to make edible, plus the plant suckers/forms colonies) and pawpaw trees a.k.a. Michigan banana (Asimina triloba) for the fruit (need maybe 2? plus the critters would definitely get these before I do!). Actually there are quite a few native plants that I'd plant if it weren't for the size or the suckering/colonizing habits. The yard is too small!
I love perennial veg, but don't have nearly enough. Here's my experience in my humid continental Midwest climate z5a. Asparagus is a perennial favorite (especially Purple Passion) so I've got about 60'. Walking onions have become a staple guild plant that tolerates shade, competes against grass, prolifically propagates and makes great early green onions. Caucasian Mt Spinach grows easily, tolerates shade, modestly self-seeds, early growth is good in a mixed salad, older cooked like spinach, I'm a fan. Nettles are a wild harvested favorite, I find it a tender and mild green and have transplanted some into the timber by the house. I save the cooking water and dilute cold mint (and other) teas 50/50 and the kids don't notice. I just discovered several patches of ramps in the timber too and am very excited, they don't taste especially garlicky to me but the greens have a very rich savory flavor. My 3 year old sea kale plants were healthy but resented being transplanted and died (I still have some seed and need to experiment more). Out of 25 or so perennial kale I grew (Experimental Farm Network) a few years ago, only about 4 survived the first winter (it was a test winter -26F) and those remaining didn't survive last winter (a mild one, -12F), but they weren't well cared for so I should try again as they were good eating and we love kale (and perennial greens are my holy grail).
I was surprised that Wild arugula (random packet of sylvetta sp.) perennialized in the greenhouse (along with a few parsley plants that persisted for 4-5 years despite going to seed each year). Horseradish is a bulletproof perennial, and though one can only eat so much horseradish sauce, it's leaves make a pretty mild, acceptable cooked green. But unlike hybrid comfrey it propogates by seed as well as root fragments so keep it far from your garden.
My favorite tea is anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). The best is from "native" seed I harvested from a restored prairie nearby, far better than any of the half dozen "improved" varieties I've grown (granted only one or two were selected for their aroma). I've also run across A. nepetoides in the woods and field edges but have never tried it as tea. If only sacred basil was perennial in my climate!
The common daylilies have decent buds and flowers though I've never bothered to harvest in quantity and bring into the kitchen, maybe they'd be good battered and fried? I haven't tried hosta yet. Sunchokes are decent. I usually ignore in the fall and forget in the spring, but next year! I'm most interested in trying Linden, Turkish broccoli, perennial kales/greens, groundnuts and maybe a super hardy bamboo.
PS - Many mentioned berries. Here are some lesser ones I appreciate: honeyberries (shade tolerant! early ripening, many varieties, easy to propogate from hardwood cuttings in early spring, tasty if a bit fiddly to harvest, they turn color well before they're prime). Gooseberries as well as red/white/black currants are tasty and shade tolerant so they don't take up prime real estate and go in the understory.
Quail Seeds in California has Hablitzia (under the name Caucasus Mountain Spinach), Good King Henry, two kinds of sorrel, Erba Stella, Lovage, perennial arugula, perennial clumping onions, and more. www.quailseeds.com
Asteraceae-Asteroideae-Heliantheae: Rudbeckia laciniata (sochan, Green-headed Coneflower, Common Cutleaf Coneflower, Green Coneflower, Goldenglow)
It sprang up in an area that has pretty damp ground and is somewhat shady for me here in Piedmont North Carolina, and due to pets, not a place where i want edibles. I transplanted it last fall to my food plot and nibbled on some greens this spring. Next year i hope to really dine on it.
I have to say that i'm not sure i know the best times to harvest vegetables (as opposed to fruits). I've tried looking for information on how much of a cutleaf coneflower or sochan one should harvest at a time. It's definitely thriving. I found crowns that formed last year and i think they may flower this year, and i've found seedlings in some places i tried to establish them as well. I've nibbled a leaf or two in my garden all winter, mixing with other greens, but i'm thinking that maybe i can harvest a big bunch of leaves from the two crowns in my garden plot soon. I have some radicchio/chicories that i am hesitating on cutting the whole heads of as well. Will they get bigger? (Yes, so far.) Sorrel (Rumex acetosa )
The walking onions are thriving right now. I'm not sure again, how much i can harvest now without harming the plant later. I suspect i miss the opportunity to put some up -- dehydrating or pickling. I toss a few leaves in with greens i cook, but i'm not sure i'm getting all the value i could.
I found a productive spicebush (Lindera benzoin) last fall and enjoyed making a spiced syrup steeping the berries in a mix of syrup and vodka. Many of the shrubs within the orchard fence seem to be male. I also made mint extracts with alcohol and have enjoyed having a small dose off and on over the winter. Teas have been nice, too, but i don't drink them as often as i could. My anise hyssop has resprouted after the winter, and i look forward to it thriving this year to a harvestable quantity.
Violets have just come back and i'm beginning my violet salads. The native violets here (Viola sororia) have no scent. Crowns of sweet violets i purchased don't seem to be particularly scented either: i worry the seller was not familiar with English sweet violets. I've tried starting Viola odorata from seed for the umpteenth time -- this time i have some seedlings! I've bought a white variety so i can distinguish them from the abundant native ones with some ease. I look forward to flavoring some sugars.
I have found rose petals a delight -- fresh in salads and in teas. I let petals sit in sugar and made decadent sugar cookies with the flavored sugar.
I'm anticipating runner beans and thicket beans (Phaseolus polystachios) returning. I didn't get much off the plants in their first year, but i have enough thicket beans to plant some more: i think they'll do well where the runner beans did not (too much shade?).
I've two wild black cherries (Prunus serotina) that i've pollarded. This is the third year since lopping off the top of a 2" diameter trunk cherry, the second for the other. We have good tall cherry trees (75' probably) and sometimes a few fruit make it to the ground but it's all far out of reach. Pollarding the cherry at about 8' high means the branches are in my reach but not the deer. Yesterday i saw the flower buds on the three year old branches! I'm excited about having them in reach.
I think it might be better to think of the following as perpetual instead of perennial: i've lemon grass and Malabar spinach i've overwintered inside. It's the second over wintering for the lemon grass, the first for the Malabar spinach. I didn't really like the Malabar spinach fresh, but the dehydrated leaves were great in soup this winter. I will be more aggressive with picking the leaves this year. And i had my first attempts at sweet potato last summer. The standard type for NC didn't produce tubers well in my very heavy red clay, but it did vine well. I liked the greens. Another variety, "Scarlet" produced a massive tuber in the clay but wasn't as aggressive a vining plant. I think it may be a better bet for me, so i'm starting slips from a saved tuber. All these have cyclical work associated with them, but i think it's worth it.
Living in Piedmont NC, attempting restoration of four acres
Can't believe you don't like wood sorrel! I love it so much I won't eat it, because it's so durned pretty.
Yucca is a plant which was already growing on my place when I moved here. Tried to kill it, but tiny pieces of the root left behind readily grow into new plants. The yucca is vicious. Its leaves are long spikes that actually (I swear it) reach out and stab you when you walk by the plant. I learned of late that the yucca is only protecting its tender roots. The roots are quite delicate, and I imagine one could cook them like any starch. Haven't tried it yet, but haven't been desperate enough to.
Also, I recommend figs, I recommend grape vines, I recommend nut trees.
"Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice." -- Mohandas Gandhi
I left my garden sorrel response hanging there, didn't i! It's done well for me once it was behind a fence and had less rabbit and no deer pressure. The wood sorrel (Oxalis spp) Tivona Hager didn't like and Joe Banks loves mostly grows for me in locations where we have pets at liberty to relieve themselves, so i haven't really tried it. I'm hoping to get some of the native O. violacea established along with the local waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum. If those both start thriving, i'll be delighted.
I didn't list fruits, nuts, and berries. I've got pawpaws (a purchase selection and a number from seed), native red mulberry Morus rubra, Dunstan heritage hybrid American chestnuts (one from a seed picked up at an NC chestnut orchard, one purchased), an American persimmon, heritage southern apples, a Chicago hardy fig, a number of rabbit eye blueberries (i probably should have gotten Southern highbush because i have them in a more damp location), and thornless blackberries. Most of these were planted the winter of 2018-2019. The figs, blueberries, and blackberries have produced but are still maturing. The rate wasn't enough to outstrip my ability to eat them to preserve any. I'm wondering if there might be fruit on the chestnuts and mulberries this year.
I'm not trying any new plants this year: i'm trying new techniques and locations for the ones i've grown. I think i may not have had good room for solanaceae plants to rotate, and i'm breaking all new ground for them. I'm adding purchased amendments, giving up on the theory that we can create enough compost to really make a difference.
I am trying mushrooms this year -- we have plenty of fodder for our wood chipper and if i can have mushrooms speed wood chips to be good soil amendment , that will be a win.
Living in Piedmont NC, attempting restoration of four acres