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Siberian Pea Tree aka Caragana Arborescens - Edible, but are they "good eats"?

 
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Peas that grow on trees! The pictures around the web are attractive, but the sources are conflicted on just how tasty and practically useful these "pea trees" are as a food source. Everybody seems to agree that when cooked, they are edible; but nobody has much to say about how tasty they are, and the edibility of raw/young pods is in dispute, with some sources recommending cooking. Worlds like "bland" also get used.

One post I found here on Permies had this to say:

Deborha d'Arms wrote:
The Siberian Pea Tree/shrub, very hardy to 40 degrees below, is a stunning tree yielding pea pods at 36 grams protein, which can be used the same way one would use lentils. They can be bland but respond well to flavoring.



What I want for this thread are:

1) Your personal anecdotes about how you have tasted, used, or cooked with the products of this tree;

2) Any links you know of to practical discussions of how to cook and use the products of this tree, especially the fresh pods and/or young seeds;

3) Any links to detailed ethnographical discussions of the traditional usages of this tree's products.

Whatcha got?
 
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Location: CT zone 5b
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I've wanted to know the same thing for some time. Hopefully someone can shed some light on the subject.
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I have never heard of anybody eating them other than in Siberia, where nothing edible is overlooked.
With 36% protein, they do make an excellent livestock fodder.

Here is what J.L. Hudson's catalog has to say about them:

Siberian-Pea.PNG
[Thumbnail for Siberian-Pea.PNG]
 
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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A road we walk on fairly often has a whole bunch of Siberian pea shrubs on a south facing hill right along the side, maybe a mile long.
Last spring I picked a green pod, opened it and popped the 6 or so immature green seeds in my mouth, tasted to me just like peas, but much smaller and maybe with a slight Lima bean texture.
I had maybe a dozen pods on the walk, more for my own interest than for hunger purposes.
I could see steaming a big bowl with butter and having it taste a lot like spring peas. The pods are not good like a pea pod though.
I plan on transplanting a bunch of small pea shrubs from this area and into my garden for chop and drop nitro fixers. Maybe snacks too.
 
steward
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It has been many years ago but I tried to eat them like peas. They tasted like peas to me. I don't remember if I tried the pod.
Once they dry out in the fall mine would curl up into a spiral and explode, sending seeds everywhere. At this stage the pod is very dry and sharp to the touch. I did not try to eat the seeds at this stage.

So the innovation would be a way to get the green peas out of the pod without so much work. Or to find out if the pods are edible at an early stage.
 
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I have tons of these but I've never tried to eat the peas before. I suppose I could give it a try this year. I have a fair bit of the pea seeds for planting but that's it.
 
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They're not too bad, but they're not too great either. It's also very hard to collect a lot. I think these are best collected by chickens but maybe someone will breed them for bigger peas one day.
 
garden master
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Thank you Craig Dobbelyu for offering seeds this year.
Anyone else have additional info on taste of these? Length of time for cooking? Etc.
Bland can always be fixed with an herb garden.
additional info: http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Caragana+arborescens
 
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Hey all.  I've read the Siberian Pea Shrub posts with great interest.  I started some, and they're doing well in their starter pots.  But in a Google search for planting info, I see that it's invasive in Minnesota / Wisconsin, and so checked with my local DNR person to make sure I wouldn't be throwing a wrench in my local ecosystem by planting it.  His reply:   "As for Siberian pea…I don’t know much about it other than what you know.  If it is actually Siberian peashrub (caragana arborescens), (other cultivars may be okay), you probably should not plant it."  I hate to toss these little seedlings, and I'm sure the plants would make great feed for my chickens.  Can I plant these on my 10-acre zone 4a (Wisconsin) farm and keep the seeds from spreading beyond my borders?  I see that one Permie posted that he walks by a row of them near his Minnesota home; it makes me wonder if they're out there and not ruining our natural habitat as much as it would seem.  Feedback would be so helpful!  
 
pollinator
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Judith Driscoll wrote:Hey all.  I've read the Siberian Pea Shrub posts with great interest.  I started some, and they're doing well in their starter pots.  But in a Google search for planting info, I see that it's invasive in Minnesota / Wisconsin, and so checked with my local DNR person to make sure I wouldn't be throwing a wrench in my local ecosystem by planting it.  His reply:   "As for Siberian pea…I don’t know much about it other than what you know.  If it is actually Siberian peashrub (caragana arborescens), (other cultivars may be okay), you probably should not plant it."  I hate to toss these little seedlings, and I'm sure the plants would make great feed for my chickens.  Can I plant these on my 10-acre zone 4a (Wisconsin) farm and keep the seeds from spreading beyond my borders?  I see that one Permie posted that he walks by a row of them near his Minnesota home; it makes me wonder if they're out there and not ruining our natural habitat as much as it would seem.  Feedback would be so helpful!  



I planted them all around my chicken coop.  Mine aren't producing seed yet, but I'm hoping they will this year.  I can tell you they haven't spread via roots, so I'm not at all worried about them becoming invasive.  I'm hoping they do spread and save me planting lots more of them.  They fix nitrogen, feed chickens, possibly feed humans, and, as near as I can tell, are maintenance free.  I can't believe they are that invasive.  I've never seen one growing wild and no one I mention them to has ever heard of them.  I guess the biggest question would be, what is beyond your borders?  If it is established forest, I can't see pea shrub taking over.  If it is a farmer's field, they will till to often for them to take hold.  You may have a valid concern if there is a big fairly open area that no one runs animals on.  If you decide against planting them, you aren't too far from me, I may be able to "dispose" of them for you
 
Judith Driscoll
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Thank you, Todd.  Those are great observations.  Since I have conventional farm fields on three sides, and a road on the 4th, I guess I'm safe.  I did worry about birds or other animals spreading the seeds further, but if you have never seen any growing wild, I think I'm safe.  

I guess I'll go ahead and plant the four or five seedlings that I have.  I'm willing to share a few, though, as I think I'l seeing a few more poking through after all the rain.  Planting close to your chicken coop is a great idea!  

Judy
 
pollinator
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So I just found a field of what looks like siberian pea growing wild in east tn. Are there any domestic look alikes?
 
pollinator
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Sorry can't help you with lookalikes, I just bought a house with three of them in the front garden trained as weeping standards, as to good eats, the flower I tried earlier was nice, fresh and pea tasting sweet from the nectar with a very very faint bitter aftertaste.
 
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