The Siberian Peashrub, A Useful Homestead Perennial (Plant Profile)

Siberian Peashrub (Plant Profile)

Caragana arborescens, which is commonly known as the Siberian Peashrub, is a plant with huge potential for homestead and permaculture plantings.

The Siberian Peashrub is a tall bush that can reach heights of 6 to 19 ft. The plant has thorns, its flowers are yellow, and leaves are dark green. It is hardy to -40 F, prefers full sun, and can tolerate dry conditions well. It is native to Asia and eastern Europe and has been used for food, fiber, and dye by people in that region for centuries. It is a legume that fixes nitrogen in the soil, a pioneer plant and a producer of large numbers of seed pods. Lets examine some of the homestead applications for this interesting plant…

Chicken Feed

One of the most attractive things about the Siberian Peashrub is its potential as a source for chicken feed. The seeds of this plant are 36% protein and contain 12% fatty oils. Chickens are said to love them! The pods can be harvested, dried, and fed to the birds in the winter or you could let the birds harvest them themselves. It is recorded that Siberian peasant farmers during WW2 overwintered their laying flocks on peashrub seeds. A perennial plant that can produce high protein chicken feed, what more could you ask for!

Nitrogen Fixing

In addition to a chicken feed source, as a legume, the peashrub fixes nitrogen to the soil and makes it available to other plants around it.

Pollinator Attractant

The peashrub’s fragrant yellow flowers attract honey bees and other pollinators and are a source of nectar. Anytime you can attract pollinators, you increase the potential of all your crops.

Hedge/Living Fence and Windbreak

Peashrubs, having thorns, could be planted closely in rows to make a living, edible hedge or fence. They are a fast growing plant and can provide a windbreak in a relatively short amount of time.

Erosion Control

This plant’s extensive root system makes it ideal for erosion control.

Fiber and Dyes

The fiber from the peashrub stalks can be used to make a strong cordage. In Russia, the plant was traditionally used to produce a blue dye.

Conclusion

As you can see, this plant could be a useful addition to many homesteads. There are numerous possibilities for incorporating peashrubs into permaculture design. With the rising costs of feeding chickens, the idea of a 10 ft tall, perennial plant that produces copious amounts of 36% chicken feed should be enough to make one think about this interesting plant. It should be noted that some states list this plant as “invasive”, so please do your own research before planting.

You can view more North Country Farmer “Plant Profiles” at This Link.
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9 thoughts on “The Siberian Peashrub, A Useful Homestead Perennial (Plant Profile)

  • February 15, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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    Thanks for the info! Where might I find a shrub (or seed pod)?

    Reply
  • February 15, 2015 at 10:57 pm
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    Good series idea, Scott! Could you make a separate category (Plant Profiles or something) so they can be found more easily later?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    Reply
  • February 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm
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    There is, Tamara. There is a link to it in the last sentence of the post. You can also find it in the “category” drop down menu. Hope to keep doing these this winter as I have time.

    Reply
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  • March 6, 2015 at 12:10 am
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    Are these peapod edibel by humans, and if so do they taste good?

    Reply
  • March 6, 2015 at 12:18 am
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    Hi Mark,

    They are edible but from what I’ve read they tend to be bitter and don’t taste very good. You can digest them and they would be a good “survival food” I guess. It might be possible to breed a peashrub that has seeds with a pleasant taste but to my knowledge it hasn’t been done yet.

    Reply
  • March 30, 2016 at 11:27 pm
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    Scott, will chickens eat only the pods and seeds or do they like the plant itself as well. I’m thinking if they get as large as the article says I could cut the greens for the hens as well. I bet it would be good for rabbits too right?

    Reply
    • March 31, 2016 at 7:59 am
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      I’m not sure, Sharon. I would imagine, being a legume, the leaves are edible. I have some seeds started and if I get any established I will try it out and let you know. I have a few friends that already have some established and I’ll ask them and see if they know.

      Reply

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