The Siberian Peashrub, A Useful Homestead Perennial (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…
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.
11 thoughts on “The Siberian Peashrub, A Useful Homestead Perennial (Plant Profile)”
Thanks for the info! Where might I find a shrub (or seed pod)?
I got my seed here… https://www.etsy.com/listing/185094722/siberian-pea-tree-pea-shrub-caragana
St Lawrence Nurseries has seedlings for sale. You have to order before April 10th. http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/
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.
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.
Pingback: The Siberian Peashrub - Prepared Bloggers
Are these peapod edibel by humans, and if so do they taste good?
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.
Bitter? No. Pick them when the pods are brown. Harvest the seeds and cook them like beans or lentils with a bit of salt. They are high in protein and take on the flavor of whatever you put them in. Put them in a salad with parsley, cucumber, radishes, lemon juice, mint, olive oil, garlic…….delicious. People don’t eat them because they are tedious to harvest.
That’s an encouraging thing to hear, Heidi! I’ll have to give it try
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?
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.