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Pioneer Species for a Temperate Climate





  • A field in desperate need of sustainable ecosystem redevelopment… and pioneer plants.
     

    In recent articles, I have discussed the use of Pioneer Species in the development (or redevelopment) of a sustainable ecosystem and Edible Forest Gardens. You can read these articles here:
    What is Succession?
    Using Succession in Permaculture
    Managing Pseudo-Primary Succession (a.k.a. Planting an Empty Field)

    For a quick review, here are the attributes of Pioneer Species:

    • Grows Well in the Soil we Have – “poor” soils have different meanings around the world
    • Grows Well with Moisture We Have – typically this is low to very low moisture
    • Fast Growing
    • Nitrogen Fixing – Having a high proportion of plants that put nitrogen back into the soil will enhance soil fertility; nitrogen fixing trees are strongly recommended
    • Produces High Levels of Biomass – leaves and branches that fall off every year which increase the organic components of the soil
    • Dynamic Accumulators – plants that put nutrients into their leaves, often mined from well below the soil surface through deep taproots, and then lose those leaves each year increasing the mineral content of the topsoil
    • Producer – if the plant can provide us a harvest, all the better!
    • Tolerates Frequent Pruning – we can build soil faster by chopping back leaves and spreading them around on the ground (a.k.a. “chop and drop”) when a plant can quickly regrow those leaves. Some plants can tolerate quite heavy prunings two or three times a growing season.
    • Intolerant of Shade

     

    So here is my list of Pioneer Species for a Temperate Climate:
     

    TREES

    1. Alders (Alnus species): Zone 2-8, Nitrogen-Fixers, Biomass, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant
    2. Birch (Betula species): Zone 3-7, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant, Biomass
    3. Siberian Crabapple (Malus baccata): Zone 3, Wildlife Food, Can be Coppiced, Edible Fruit
    4. Prairie Crabapple (Malus ioensis): Zone 2, Wildlife Food, Can be Coppiced, Edible Fruit
    5. Mulberry, esp. White Mulberry (Morus alba): Zone 5-9, Biomass, Can be Coppiced, Wildlife Food, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Fruit
    6. Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana): Zone 2, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit
    7. Sumac (Rhus species): Zone 3-8, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant
    8. Locust (Robinia species): Zone 3-8, Nitrogen Fixer, Dynamic Accumulator, Biomass, Can be Coppiced, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Wildlife Food, Black Locust has Edible Flowers
    9. Willows (Salix species): Zone 4-9, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant, Wood has many uses, Need high moisture
    10. Jujube (Ziziphus jujube): Zone 6-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Fruit

     

    SHRUBS
    1. Alders (Alnus species): Zone 2-9, Nitrogen-Fixers, Biomass, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant
    2. Birch (Betula species): Zone 3-7, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant, Biomass
    3. Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens): Zone 5-7, Nitrogen Fixer, Beneficial Insect Shelter
    4. Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina): Zone 2-6, Nitrogen Fixer, Small Animal Shelter
    5. Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food and Shelter
    6. Hazel (Corylus species): Zone 3-7, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food and Shelter, Can be Coppiced, Edible Nuts
    7. Sea-Buckthorns (Hippophae species): Zone 3-7, Nitrogen Fixers, Edible Fruit
    8. Chicksaw Plum (Prunus angustifolia): Zone 5, Nitrogen Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Shelter, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit
    9. Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana): Zone 2, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit
    10. Blackberries, Raspberries, and other related brambles (Rubus species): Zone 2-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Wildlife Food, Wildlife Shelter, Ground Cover, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant
    11. Rose (Rosa species): Zone 3-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant
    12. Willows (Salix species): Zone 4-9, Short-Lived, Shade Intolerant, Wood has many uses, Need high moisture
    13. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): Zone 3-10, Edible Berries, Edible Flowers

     

    HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS
    1. Yarrow (Achillea species): Zone 3-10, Ground Cover, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Aromatic Pest Confuser
    2. Hollyhock (Alcea rosea): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Flowers (bland)
    3. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana): Zone 4-8, Aromatic Pest Confuser
    4. Pale Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolia): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor
    5. Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): Zone 2-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Shoots
    6. Milk Vetch (Astraglus glycyphyllos): Zone 4-8, Nitrogen Fixer, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Ground Cover
    7. Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliate): Zone 4-7, Shade Tolerant, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Leaves, Aromatic Pest Confuser
    8. Turkish Rocket (Bunias orientalis): Zone 4, Edible Leaves
    9. Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata): Zone 3, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers
    10. Chicory (Cichorium intybus): Zone 3, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Dynamic Accumulator, Edible Leaves, Tea Plant
    11. Smooth-Leaved Satureja (Clinopodium glabellum): Zone 6, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Aromatic Pest Confuser
    12. Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium): Zone 1-8, Wildlife Food, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Leaves
    13. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Zone 6, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Leaves, Flowers, Seeds, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    14. Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca): Zone 5-10, Dynamic Accumulator, Groundcover, Wildlife Food, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant
    15. Garden Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa): Zone 3-10, Dynamic Accumulator, Groundcover, Wildlife Food, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant
    16. American Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota): Zone 3-8, Nitrogen Fixer, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Roots, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    17. Sunflower (Helianthus species): Zone 2-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Roots, Edible Seeds
    18. Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus): Zone 2-10, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Roots
    19. Daylilies (Hermerocallis species): Zone 2-9, Wildlife Food, Groundcover, Edible Roots, Edible Greens, Edible Flowers
    20. Cow Parsnip (Heracleum sphondylium): Zone 2-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Edible Roots, Culinary Herb
    21. Perennial Lettuce (Lactuca perennis): Zone 5, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens
    22. Lovage (Levisticum officinale): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Culinary Herb
    23. Prostrate Bird’s-Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus): Zone 5, Nitrogen Fixer, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Ground Cover
    24. Lupine (Lupinus perennis): Zone 3-9, Nitrogen Fixer, Short-lived, Shade Intolerant, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Ground Cover, Edible Seeds (in some species)
    25. Mallow (Malva alcea): Zone 5, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Edible Pods
    26. Musk Mallow (Malva moschata): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Edible Pods
    27. Alfalfa (Medicago satvia): Zone 3, Nitrogen Fixer, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Sprouted Seeds Tea Plant
    28. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): Zone 5, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    29. Mint (Mentha species): Zone 3-10, Dynamic Accumulator, Shade Tolerant, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Aromatic Pest Confuser, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    30. Wild Bergamont (Monarda fistulosa): Zone 3-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Aromatic Pest Confuser, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    31. Miner’s Lettuce (Montia perfoliata): Zone 4, Ground Cover, Edible Greens
    32. Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Zone 4-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Aromatic Pest Confuser, Ground Cover, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    33. Ground Cherry (Physalis heterophylla): Zone 3, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit
    34. Pokeweed (Phyolacca americana): Zone 3-9, Wildlife Food, Edible Greens
    35. Burnet Saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifrage): Zone 5, Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens
    36. Silverweed (Potentilla anserine): Zone 3-7, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Edible Roots, Tea Plant
    37. Sorrel (Rumex species): Zone 3, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Edible Greens
    38. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum): Zone 5, Can be Coppiced, Wildlife Food, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    39. Goldenrod (Solidago species): Zone 3-9, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Aromatic Pest Confuser, Edible Greens, Culinary Herb, Tea Plant
    40. Chickweed (Stellaria species): Zone 4-8, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Ground Cover, Edible Greens
    41. Comfrey (Symphytum species): Zone 4-8, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Ground Cover
    42. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Zone 3, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Edible Roots, Edible Flowers, Tea Plant
    43. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca): Zone 4-8, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens, Tea Plant
    44. Vetch (Vicia species): Zone 3-9, Nitrogen Fixer, Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Greens
    45. Violet (Viola species): Zone 3-8, Dynamic Accumulator, Ground Cover, Edible Greens, Edible Flowers

    VINES

    1. Chinese Yam (Dioscorea batats): Zone 5-10, Edible Roots
    2. Hops (Humulus lupulus): Zone 4, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Edible Greens, Flowers for Brewing, Tea Plant
    3. Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius): Zone 4-9, Nitrogen Fixer, Ground Cover
    4. Maypop (Passiflora incarnata): Zone 6-10, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Wildlife Food, Edible Fruit, Tea Plant

    ANNUAL RESEEDING PLANTS

    1. Borage (Borago officinalis): Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Edible Leaves, Edible Flowers
    2. Radishes/Daikons (Raphanus species): Dynamic Accumulator, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Ground Cover, Edible Greens, Edible Roots
    3. Fava Bean (Vicia faba): Nitrogen Fixer, Beneficial Insect Attractor, Beneficial Insect Shelter, Wildlife Food, Ground Cover, Edible Greens, Edible Seeds (Beans)

    Original Article Here

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