Underground 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: 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: Sweet Potatoes

Common Name: Sweet Potato, Creeping Yam, Kūmara
Scientific Name: Ipomoea batatas
Family: Convolvulaceae (the Bindweed or Morning Glory family)

Sweet Potatoes are perennial in climates warmer than USDA Zone 8 or 9, and are grown as annuals if the climate is cooler; however, I personally think that with some experimentation and large trials, we could […]

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 […]

Permaculture Plants: Hog Peanut

Scientific Name: Amphicarpaea bracteata
Family: Fabaceae (the Legume or Bean or Pea family)

This North American native plant is one of the rare shade-tolerant nitrogen-fixers. It can be used as a groundcover, has two types of edible seeds, and has edible roots. The Hog Peanut fills a niche in the Forest Garden and is likely […]

Permaculture Plants: Parsley

Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum
Family: Apiaceae (the Carrot or Parsley family)

I was fortunate to live and travel for a few years in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It would be shocking  for the cultures in this part of the world to consider Parsley as nothing more than a green decoration on a plate, […]