Herbaceous Layer

Permaculture Plants: Ginseng

Common Name: Ginseng, American Ginseng, Asian Ginseng
Scientific Name: Panax species
Family: Araliaceae (the Ivy family)

There are 11 species of ginseng found in eastern Asia and eastern North America. While all the species contain medicinal compounds (specifically ginsenosides), only Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) are grown in significant quantity. The […]

Permaculture Plants: Red Clover

Common Name: Red Clover, Beebread, Clover Rose, Cow Clover, Meadow Clover, and many more…
Scientific Name: Trifolium pratense
Family: Fabaceae (the Legume, Bean, or Pea family)

Red Clover is one of the most popular green manure, fodder, and cover crops grown in the world. As a legume, it puts atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. It […]

Permaculture Plants: Licorice (Liquorice)

Common Name: Licorice (American spelling), Liquorice (British spelling), 甘草 (gāncǎo)
Scientific Name: Glycyrrhiza species
Family: Fabaceae (the Legume, Pea, or Bean family)
Common Species:

  • Russian/Roman/Eastern European/Hungarian Licorice (Glycyrrhiza echinata)
  • Common Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • American Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)
  • Chinese Licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)

Licorice is found on all continents but Antarctica, and has been used by humans for thousands of years as a medicine and flavoring. For Permaculturists, Licorice has […]

Permaculture Plants: Calendula

Common Name: Calendula, Pot Marigold
Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
Family: Asteraceae or Compositae (the Aster, Daisy, or Sunflower family)

Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is a beautiful flower known throughout the world as an ornamental, but has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. This annual reseeds very easily and can withstand fairly cold weather, […]

Permaculture Plants: Sea Kale

Common Name: Sea Kale, Crambe, Scurvy Grass, Halmyrides
Scientific Name: Crambe maritima
Family: Brassicaceae (the Brassica, Crucifer, or Broccoli family)

Despite its name and its origins on the European Atlantic coasts, Sea Kale does not need a nearby ocean to thrive. This Brassica has edible roots, shoots (like asparagus), leaves (like kale, cabbage, or spinach), […]

Permaculture Plants: Turkish Rocket

Common Name: Turkish Rocket, Hill Mustard, Turkish Warty Cabbage, Warty Cabbage
Scientific Name: Bunias orientalis
Family: Brassicaceae (the Crucifers or Mustard family)

Turkish Rocket is a perennial broccoli-like plant with a stronger, cabbage flavor and a tenacious grip to life. It is very easy to grow, and once established, it usually will not quit. Because of this, it […]

Permaculture Plants: Buckwheat

Common Name: Common Buckwheat, Tartary Buckwheat, Perennial Buckwheat
Scientific Name: Fagopyrum species
Family: Polygonaceae (the Knotweed or Smartweed or Buckwheat family)

Common Species (there are 15 or 16 species):

  • Common Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  • Perennial Buckwheat (Fagopyrum dibotrys)
  • Tartary Buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum)

Buckwheat, while not a grain or even related to wheat, does produced edible seeds that make a gluten-free, […]

Permaculture Plants: Water Spinach, Kangkong, Ong Choy

Common Name: Water Spinach, Kangkong, River Spinach, Water Morning Glory, Ong Choy, Water Convolvulus, Swamp Cabbage
Scientific Name: Ipomoea aquatica
Family: Convolvulaceae (the Morning Glory or Bindweed family)

Common Names (I did the best I could considering I speak none of these languages!):

  • Bengali = kalmi shaak or kalami
  • Burmese = gazun ywet or kan-swun
  • Cantonese (Jyutping) = […]

Permaculture Plants: Udo

Common Name: Udo, Japanese Spikenard, Mountain Asparagus
Scientific Name: Aralia cordata
Family: Ariliaceae (the Aralia or Ivy family)

Description: Udo is a large, tropical looking herbaceous plant that is very cold hardy, attracts beneficial insects, and has edible shoots (used like asparagus) and leaves (used for salad and cooked greens). On top of all this, […]

Permaculture Plants: Oca

Common Name: Oca, Uqa, New Zealand Yam
Scientific Name: Oxalis tuberosa
Family: Oxalidaceae (the Wood Sorrel family)

This beautiful tuber from the Andes mountains is starting to become a trendy specialty crop. Personally, I’ve only ever seen Oca for sale in German grocery stores, but from what I have read, it is becoming more popular […]