What Do We Grow In Our Community Food Forest, And What Does It Taste Like? Here Is Our Food Forest Plant List with Descriptions & Edibility. More Will Be Added Soon!

Our Food Forest Plant List starts with a King and travels the world of veg and a few fruit to Jerusalem, the Caucasus and a back to Taunton Vale.

Good King Henry: A leafy green perennial vegetable with spinach-like leaves. It’s easy to grow and tolerates a range of conditions. Edible Part: Leaves. Preparation: Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are better cooked like spinach.

Skirret: A root vegetable related to parsnip, with a sweet, nutty flavor. It prefers light, well-drained soil. Edible Part: Root. Preparation: Roots can be roasted, boiled, or mashed similar to parsnips.

Babington leek: A clump-forming perennial leek with flat, blue-green leaves. It’s more decorative than a traditional leek but has a mild, oniony flavor. Edible Part: Stems. Preparation: Use young stems like chives or scallions, adding them to salads, soups, or stir-fries.

Caucasian Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides): A herbaceous perennial vine with edible greens that taste milder than traditional spinach. It produces small, white flowers in clusters. Edible Part: Leaves and shoots. Preparation:Young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw in salads or cooked similar to spinach.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Cutleaf Coneflower): A herbaceous perennial with large, daisy-like flowers in shades of yellow, orange, or red. It attracts butterflies and is easy to care for. (Edibility, argueable. Eaten in the Cherokee culture. See link http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=Rudbeckia+laciniata)

Walking onion: A unique perennial with clusters of bulblets on top of the stalk. The bulblets and green stalks are edible with a mild onion flavor. (Edible Part: Bulblets and stalks. Preparation: Bulblets can be planted to grow new onion plants. Stalks can be chopped and used like green onions in various dishes.)

Apios americana (Groundnut): A perennial vine with edible tubers that taste similar to potatoes. It thrives in full sun and moist soil. Edible Part: Tubers. Preparation: Tubers can be roasted, boiled, or mashed similar to potatoes.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) Description: An annual herb with soft, feathery, fern-like green leaves and yellow flower heads. Widely used for its aromatic flavour. Edibility: Both the leaves (sometimes called “dill weed” or “dillweed” to distinguish them from the seeds) and the seeds are edible. Preparation: Leaves: Fresh dill leaves are best used whole or roughly chopped to preserve their delicate flavour. Add them towards the end of cooking to avoid losing their aroma. You can also use them as a garnish for a pop of colour and freshness. Seeds: Dill seeds have a more intense, liquorice-like flavour compared to the leaves. They can be used whole or crushed. Whole seeds are often added to pickling brines or simmered in soups and stews for a subtle flavor infusion. Crushed seeds can be used to season roasted vegetables, fish, or dips.

Raspberry (Rubus idaeus): A bramble with delicious, sweet fruits. It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Raspberries come in several varieties, some summer-fruiting and others ever-bearing. Edible Part: Fruit. Preparation: Raspberries are typically eaten fresh, but they can also be used in jams, pies, and other desserts.)

Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans): Also known as Sweet Olive or Fragrant Olive, is an evergreen shrub prized for its fragrant white flowers. Edible Part:These small blossoms are edible. Preparation: Can be used in teas, desserts, and other dishes to add a delicate floral aroma. However, use them sparingly due to their potent flavour.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) Description: A perennial herb with fragrant grayish-green leaves. Commonly used in cooking. Edibility: Leaves are edible and can be used fresh or dried in various dishes. Preparation: Fresh sage leaves can be added whole or chopped to dishes. Whole leaves are often removed before serving as they can be tough. Dried sage leaves are quite potent, so a little goes a long way. They can be crumbled between your fingers or ground into a powder before incorporating them into your recipe.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Description: A perennial herb with small, fragrant green leaves. Popular culinary herb. Edibility: Leaves are edible and can be used fresh or dried in various dishes. Preparation: Fresh thyme sprigs can be added whole to stews, soups, and sauces. Simply remove the woody stems before serving. Fresh thyme leaves can also be chopped and used to season various dishes. Dried thyme leaves are more concentrated in flavor, so use them sparingly. You can either crumble the leaves with your fingers or grind them into a powder before adding them to your recipe.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Description: Common yellow wildflower with a rosette of basal leaves and a single, bright yellow flower head that turns into a fluffy white seed ball. Edible Part: Leaves (young and tender), flowers, and roots.

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus): A close relative of artichoke, cardoon is grown for its thick, edible stalks. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Cardoon requires blanching (covering the stalks to exclude light) to improve tenderness and flavour. Edible Part: Blanched stalks. Preparation: Similar to artichoke hearts, cooked cardoon stalks can be eaten on their own, stuffed, or added to stews.)

Fig (Ficus carica): A small tree or shrub with sweet, fleshy fruits. Figs thrive in warm climates with full sun and well-drained soil. Depending on the variety, figs can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or preserved. Edible Part: Fruit. Preparation: Fresh figs can be eaten whole or used in jams, salads, or desserts. Dried figs are a delicious snack.)

Hops (Humulus lupulus): A vigorous, climbing, herbaceous perennial. Hops are best known for their flower cones, used in brewing beer. They require full sun, well-drained soil, and support for climbing. Not edible – used for brewing beer only.

Japanese Balloon Berry (Rubus illecebrosus): A climbing vine with attractive, orange-red, balloon-shaped fruits. Edibility, Fruit – raw or cooked. Fairly large and sweet but insipid when raw]. The fruit is said to develop more flavour when it is cooked.

Wild Korean Celery (Dystaenia takesimana): A perennial herb with edible leaves and stems with a celery-like flavor. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Edible Part: Leaves and stems. Preparation: Leaves and stems can be chopped and used fresh in salads or stir-fries, or added to soups and stews.)

Wild White Strawberry (Fragaria nilgerrensis): A perennial with small, white fruits that have a milder flavour than traditional strawberries. Originating in Szechuan. They are more for decoration than eating due to their size. (Edible fruit, but not terribly tasty).

Rhubarb (Rheum x hybridum): A perennial vegetable with large, edible stalks with a tart flavour. It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.  Edible Part: Stalks (Note: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten). Preparation: Rhubarb stalks are typically cooked with sugar or other sweeteners due to their tartness. They can be enjoyed in pies, crumbles, jams, or other desserts.

Taunton Deane Kale (Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group) ‘Taunton Deane’): A variety of kale known for its distinctive, crinkled leaves with a milder flavour than other kales. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Edible Part: Leaves. Preparation: Kale leaves can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, sautéed, or baked into crisps.

Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa): A deciduous shrub with prickly branches and lobed leaves. It produces small, round or oval fruits that can be green, yellow, red, or purple when ripe. Edible Part: Fruit (when ripe).Preparation: Gooseberries can be eaten fresh or cooked in pies, jams, crumbles, or used to make gooseberry fool (a creamy dessert). Unripe gooseberries are very tart and best suited for cooking.

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum): A deciduous shrub with black, currant-sized fruits. Edible Part: Fruit. Preparation: Blackcurrants have a strong, tart flavour and are most often used in jams, jellies, syrups, or cordials. They can also be eaten fresh but are quite sharp.

Field / Broad Bean (Vicia faba): A cool-season vegetable grown for its large, flat pods containing several green seeds. Edible Part: Seeds (when young and tender). Preparation: Broad beans are typically shelled and boiled, steamed, or stir-fried.  Note: Older broad beans may become tough and require longer cooking times. Field beans are used as a catch crop or green manure that adds nitrogen.

Hazel (Corylus avellana): A deciduous shrub or small tree prized for its edible nuts. Edible Part: Nuts (when ripe). Preparation: Hazelnuts can be eaten fresh, roasted, or ground into a nut butter.  Note: Hazelnuts have a tough outer shell that needs to be cracked before consuming the nut inside.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): A low-growing evergreen herb with small, fragrant leaves.  Edible Part: Leaves. Preparation: Thyme leaves are commonly used fresh or dried to add a warm, herbaceous flavour to soups, stews, roasted vegetables, meats, and stuffings.

Sage (Salvia officinalis): A perennial herb with greyish-green leaves and a strong, peppery aroma. Edible Part:Leaves. Preparation: Sage leaves are typically used fresh or dried to add a pungent, earthy flavour to savory dishes like stuffings, roasted meats, poultry, and soups.

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). A cool-season root vegetable prized for its unusual flavour and texture. Edible Part: Tubers (when mature). Preparation: Jerusalem artichokes can be roasted, boiled, steamed, fried, or even eaten raw. Younger tubers have a milder flavour and more delicate texture.

Black Mulberry (Morus nigra). A deciduous tree prized for its delicious, dark-coloured fruit. Edible Part: Fruit (when ripe). Preparation: Black mulberries are best enjoyed fresh but can also be used in jams, preserves, pies, crumbles, baked goods, syrups, and liqueurs. Note: Black mulberries are delicate and have a short shelf life. Eat them fresh or use them soon after picking.

Black Mulberries were widely planted in the UK by James I. He was trying to produce silk, rather than import it. It was a good plan except for one small detail. Silkworms prefer the white mulberry. But the good news is that black mulberries are delicious and we are also left with a nursery rhyme, Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush . The question the rhyme leaves us to decide is if the rhyme refers to James I or to Wakefield Prison and the route to the gallows!

Sweetcorn (Zea mays var. rugosa). Sweetcorn, also known as maize or corn on the cob, is a warm-season vegetable known for its plump kernels and delightful sweetness. Here’s a breakdown of its key characteristics:. Edible Part: Kernels (when mature). Preparation: Sweetcorn is typically enjoyed boiled, roasted, or grilled on the cob. The kernels can also be cut from the cob and used in various dishes.

Pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo).Pumpkins are a type of winter squash prized for their large size, vibrant orange colour, and versatility in both sweet and savoury dishes. Let’s delve into their characteristics: Edible Part: Flesh (when mature). Preparation: Pumpkin flesh can be roasted, steamed, mashed, or puréed for use in soups, stews, pies, breads, and even curries. Various types are listed below.

Pumpkin Photo: JLPC / Wikimedia Commons Food Forest Plant List with Descriptions & Edibility

Squash (Cucurbita spp.). Squash is a diverse group of winter vegetables belonging to the genus Cucurbita. There are numerous varieties, each with its unique flavour, texture, and size. Here are some common types:

Butternut Squash (Cucurbita moschata): A long, pear-shaped squash with a sweet, nutty flavour and smooth, orange flesh. Perfect for roasting, soups, and mashing.

Butternut Squash (Cucurbita maxima): A large, turban-shaped squash with a variety of colours (orange, green, white). The flesh can be sweet or savoury depending on the variety, making it suitable for roasting, stuffing, and curries.

Courgette (Cucurbita pepo): A summer squash variety with a long, cylindrical shape and green skin. Eaten immature, courgettes have a mild flavour and a tender texture, ideal for grilling, stir-fries, and salads.

Note: When referring to winter squashes in general, “squash” is sufficient. However, for specific varieties, their individual names are used (e.g., butternut squash, acorn squash).

More Plants For Our Food Forest Plant List

Over the next months we will plant more in the food forest and I will add the plants here to our Food Forest Plant List.

Tag: Food Forest Plant List
Image Attribution: Photo: JLPC / Wikimedia Commons

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