plant lists and resources
A few lists of plants I grow and use at ALE.
Useful Weedy Weeds. I don't sell these plants though if you pop by, I can give you a few if you are desperate to add them to your collection. I've marked some as noxious weeds based on my experience and more importantly because they are flagged multiple times on various resources. You probably already grow many of them.
- Bellflower, creeping: This is actually a great vegetable. Inoffensive tasting basal greens, bland but perfectly acceptable roots and edible flowers. It's also pretty but winds its creeping roots around everything! Invasive.
- Catmint: Makes a nice tea. Useful tall ground cover that takes shade.
- Chickweed: Then yummiest version has non hairy leaves. Common weed in disturbed areas.
- Dandelion: I have a garden bed devoted to cultivars of this great plant. And do sell some unusual varieties like pink.
- Daylily, common tawny-orange ditch lily: Great ground cover plant with multiple uses. Some people have trouble digesting or using.
- Garlic mustard: Very invasive weed of shady or woodland areas. Pull this biennial when you see it. You can eat it too and some people really like the taste. Highly invasive.
- Goat's beard: Yellow salsify can be used like the vegetable variety. Politely self seeds in forest garden.
- Goutweed: One of the most common, edible invasives I see. Covers ground extremely well and can be used in difficult places like dry shade. Has a celery like taste.
- Great leaf plantain: Young leaves taste like mushrooms: really. Forager Leda Meredith has made these into plantain chips. I do intend to sell some of the more interesting cultivars such as red leafed.
- Japanese knotweed: large, attractive bamboo looking plant with shoots that taste something like rhubarb in the spring. Apparently delicious though highly invasive.
- Mallow: Little cheeses and moschata are very common weeds in the area. Malva moschata, in pink and white, are quite pretty and common in my forest garden. They suffer from hollyhock rust though so I don't use them as much as I'd like.
- Sheep's sorrel: Same sour flavour as other sorrels on a small creeping plant. Common weed
- Wood sorrel: Another lemony treat, some kids call these hearts because of their clover like leaves. Common weed.
- Oxeye Daisy: Young greens are edible as are flowers. Some people use the buds as well. A good ground cover.
Annual, biennial or short lived edibles
- Amaranthus: Amaranth is a great foliage and early fall decoration plant, especially those in red and bronze leaf tones. I like all the species from the shorter tricolor to the taller amaranth seed varieties. They do self seed though I get very little of this because of our pest population.
- Arcticum: I love the taste of burdock. It’s a nice looking plant too though its form of seed distribution can be annoying especially if you have furry pets as the burs stick tenaciously to their hair.
- Atriplex hortensis: Orach is an annual spinach substitute that comes in a range of colours. So ornamental that red and purple varieties are recommended in flower beds.
- Bellis perenis: Short lived, small plant that often naturalizes in lawns in some climates. Will grow well in part shade and wilts in full sun in our garden. I enjoy the young spring greens and the little flowers make a pretty sprinkle on salads.
- Beta vulgaris: When I have been very, very lucky, I get chard coming back and seeding. The thin perpetual spinach varieties seem to be hardier though I'm still investigating. If you do get them to self seed, they'll add to your soil seed bank.
- Borage: Just a fun plant with sky blue or white flowers that are edible. The leaves are also edible and best before flowering. Many people I speak with seem to prefer the white flowered variety for greens.
- Brassica sp.: I grow a lot of biennial kale. In good years, it self seeds with an abundance of little kales to carry on.
- Brassica juncea: Mustards are a must for fun foliage to fill in the space between other plants. The flavour of the greens varies in heat but all make a nice addition to salads and stirfries Prolific self seeding in most years helps this annual carry on. You could also harvest and use the seeds for sprouts or to make mustard.
- Dianthus barbatus: Prolific cut flower, biennial that self seeds with abandon. Edible flowers
- Chenopodium sp.: Lamb's quarters and magenta spreen in particular have great spinach laves. I like the large C. giganteum the best.
- Chicory: I like to call these ground jewels when their red, green and pearl heads poke through the fall leaves. Tasty bitters plant that will self seed. Though a short lived perennial, it is recommended that they be refreshed often. The leaves of some of mine are vigorous enough to compete well in a forest garden such as large leafed sugarloaf chicory.
- Malvas sp.: We have all sorts of malvas in the garden including M. verticulata v. crispa - a novel salad green; this large plant has big, crinkled foliage and inconspicuous flowers.
- Matricaria chamomilla: German Chamomile self seeds well in my gardens. Use flowers for tea.
- Parsley: Another biennial self seeder.
- Salsify: Biennial oyster root plant with pretty purple go to bed by noon type flowers.
- Violas: tricolor (and cornuta) are some of my favourite salad and dessert decoration plants.
Perennials - herbaceous (an incomplete but growing list)
- Alliums: There are a vast array of traditionally edible onions. Some I sell, some I'm testing but there are many more out there to explore. Generally very decorative in flower as well.
- Amphicarpaea bracteata: Tuber producing legume
- Campanulas: Of all sorts.
- Camassia: Traditionally eaten tuber in north america.
- Hibiscus (and related mallows): I grow a number for edible leaves and flowers.
- Hosta: I look forward to being able to provide some tastier varieties in the future. At the moment, give your own a try, as shoots.
- Lathyrus tuberosus: Another tuberous legume: low yields, pretty flower.
- Lilium: Many lilies were have edible tubers though best to choose from traditionally used species and cultivars.
- Monarda: Beautiful plants ranging in colour from pale lavender through to bright red with violets and purples in between. I grow a couple powdery mildew resistant varieties. Used mainly as a tea plant giving a bergamont armoma. The tubercular flowers are bellowed by pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds. It spreads by stolons so makes a good grouncover.
- Primula: Young leaves and flowers
- Sagattaria latifolia: Useful tuber plant for wet areas/ponds.
- Scorzonera: Perennial oyster root with good flavor and higher yield in my garden then salsify. Yellow flower smell like chocolate! Spring chards (shoots), flowerbuds and root are all edible. One of my favourite plants.
- Sedum sp: Many are used for their lemon tasting leaves.
Trees, bushes and vines - Nuts and FruitsWe grow a diversity of nut and fruit trees, bushes and vines in our forest garden, woods and the rest of our property. Here is a list (see also seeds).
- Acer saccharum and saccharinum: sugar and silver maple: mature
- Actinidia sp. several: small fruited kiwi
- Amelanchier sp. various: serviceberry/juneberry:Fruiting
- Arctostaphylos uva-ursi: Bearberry: young
- Caranga arborescens: siberian pea shrub: young
- Castanea dentata: chestnut: young
- Chaenomeles sp. several: quince: young
- Ceris canadensis: redbud: young but overwintering
- Corylus sp.: hazelnut: young
- Crataegus sp.: hawthorne: Mature and fruiting
- Fagus grandiflora: beech: Mature and fruiting (squirrels get them all)
- Gleditsia: honey locust: mature and fruiting
- Juglans sp. including nigra: black walnut (fruiting), cinerea: butternut (young), regia 'Carpathian' (young), 'Buartnut' (young)
- Juniperus sp.: juniper: fruiting
- Lonicera cerulean: haskap: fruiting
- Lycium barbarum: goji berry: flowering
- Malus domestica: apple: red x 2, blush, yellow x 2, russet and crab: Mature and fruiting
- Morus sp. various: mulberry: young
- Pinus sp.: pine: mature and fruiting
- Prunus sp. including cerasus: sour cherry (young), cerasifera: cherry plum (young), tomentosa: nanking (young), pumila (young), xdomestica: plum(fruiting), americana: wild plum (young), persica: peach (young), virginian a: sour (fruiting), Saskatchewan types: cherry (some fruiting), Chums (fruiting)
- Pyrus sp.: pear Mature and fruiting
- Quercus rubra and macrocarpa: red and burr: Mature and fruiting
- Ribes sp. including rub rum: currant (white and red), nigrum, uva-crispa: gooseberry, cynosbati, 'wild red' and Jostaberry
- Rosa rugosa and glauca: roses: mature and fruiting
- Rubus sp. including odoratus: purple flowering, occidentalis: black raspberry, fruticosus: blackberry, arcticus (new), Tayberry, Loganberry: most mature and fruiting
- Sorbus: young
- Sambucus racemosa (fruiting - we don't 'use it) and canadensis (young): elderberry
- Vaccinium sp. high and low bush cranberry: fruiting, vitas-idaea (young)
- Virburnum trilobum and lentago: fruiting
- Vitis sp.: grape domesticated and wild
Woody Plants for leaves or flowers
- Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon) - leaves, flowers
- Morus - leaves
- Picea - shoots
- Syringa - flowers
- Tilia - leaves, flowers
For ReferenceTo learn more about the wonderfully diverse world of edible plants, see these useful resources.
- Seeds of Diversity
- Canadian Organic Growers
- Seed and Plant Sanctuary for Canada
- The Society of Ontario Nut Growers
- North American Fruit Explorers (US and Canada)