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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.