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Plant Biodiversity in the Food Forest

 
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I want to use this thread to document all of the different types of native or wild plants that I find in my food forest!

The wild plant biodiversity has been amazing so far! It seems to be building extremely healthy soil and also seems to have attracted tons of beneficial insects, like dragonflies and solitary wasps, that patrol the food forest, helping to keep other insects in balance. It's so neat neat seeing what plants will pop up on their own and also what is planted by wildlife.

Having a large biodiversity of both animals and plants (see animal biodiversity thread ) seems like it has balanced out my small food forest ecosystem, and has created a healthier and more vibrant and alive area that can produce tons of amazingly healthy food with very little work!
 
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I have found that, as the soil and ecosystem improves in my food forest, I am attracting several new plants, some that I greatly desired.  For example, I knew I wanted feverfew, and it just showed up!  Same with salsify and self-heal/heal all.
John S
PDX OR
 
Steve Thorn
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That's a neat observation John. I've noticed something similar in mine.

My food forest is still pretty young, but I've noticed that by having areas of different soil types, sun exposure, and moisture, it helps to attract a diverse group of plants that each have their own needs of where they can thrive.
 
Steve Thorn
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I love the flowers on this purple horsemint (Monarda citriodora, lemon beebalm). I hope it'll spread around!
20200715_190327.jpg
purple horsemint (Monarda citriodora, lemon beebalm)
purple horsemint (Monarda citriodora, lemon beebalm)
20200715_190343.jpg
purple horsemint (Monarda citriodora, lemon beebalm) closeup
purple horsemint (Monarda citriodora, lemon beebalm) closeup
 
John Suavecito
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Monardas are beautiful.  SOme are useful as anti-viral medicines. Monarda Fistulosa is the main one I think.   The other one may be called Monarda didyma, or something like that.  

Yes, I love the different microclimates.  I have some plants on my driveway that just bake in the sun, and others that are downhill in a shady area that collects more water.  Kumquats in the sun, horsetail in the moist shade.  Some plants can only take the sunny side of the house under the partial shade of a tree.  Some can be on the moist, shady side, but then they need the open sun with no shade, like campanulas.

Excellent point.

John S
PDX OR
 
Steve Thorn
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I was really exited to find what I'm pretty sure is American ground nut (Apios americana).
20200809_152734.jpg
American ground nut (Apios americana).
American ground nut (Apios americana).
 
Steve Thorn
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These are one of my favorite wildflowers. It's probably Persicaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania smartweed).
20200830_154813.jpg
Probably Persicaria pensylvanica
Probably Persicaria pensylvanica
 
Steve Thorn
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I saw a lot of this perrenial blooming last August, and it has nice yellow flowers. It should be Ludwigia alternifolia, commonly known as bushy seedbox and rattlebox. The seeds are literally in boxes, and I found the seed boxes just a few days ago and was looking back on this picture from late August. I see where the common name comes from! Pretty cool plant!
20200830_171858.jpg
Ludwigia alternifolia (bushy seedbox, rattlebox)
Ludwigia alternifolia (bushy seedbox, rattlebox)
 
Steve Thorn
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The wild aquatic plants that filled up this small pool by last September have been awesome, ! It turned out way better probably than if I had tried to plant it myself, and the best part was it took zero work!
20200906_154316.jpg
Wild aquatic plants in a small pool
Wild aquatic plants in a small pool
 
Steve Thorn
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I'm pretty sure this was boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, about to bloom last year. I really like the flower buds on this plant and just how it looks in general.
20200907_163132.jpg
Flower buds of boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, in different stages of opening
Flower buds of boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, in different stages of opening
20200907_163143.jpg
I really like these flower buds, boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum.
I really like these flower buds, boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum.
20200907_163139.jpg
boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, a really attractive plant
A really attractive plant
 
Steve Thorn
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It may be called common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea, but there is nothing common about these stunning flowers, probably the most beautiful wildflowers in my food forest last year.
20200919_160021.jpg
common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea
common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea
20200919_160011.jpg
Purple morning glory closeup
Purple morning glory closeup
 
Steve Thorn
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I love these white morning glories, also called whitestar, Ipomoea lacunosa. If you look closely there is a hint of light purple in the flower's center.
20200927_154932.jpg
White morning glory, also called whitestar, Ipomoea lacunosa
White morning glory, also called whitestar, Ipomoea lacunosa
20210307_085340.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20210307_085340.jpg]
 
Steve Thorn
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These flowers don't last long, and quickly fall off, but they're still beautiful even after that!
20201003_182200.jpg
Fallen purple morning glory flowers
Fallen purple morning glory flowers
 
Steve Thorn
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Asiatic dayflower, Commelina communis, growing last October. The flowers only last a day, but they're beautiful while they last and produce so many flowers it always seems filled with blooms!
20201004_141647.jpg
Asiatic daylower, Commelina communis
Asiatic daylower, Commelina communis
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I'm pretty sure this was boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, about to bloom last year. I really like the flower buds on this plant and just how it looks in general.



Hi Steve, the leaves look wrong to me for boneset. The reason for the name is that the opposite leaves appear like one continuous leaf with a stem growing through the middle of it - as if 'bones' have 'set'.

There is a photo at this link https://7song.com/the-eupatorium-story-joe-pye-weed-boneset-and-white-snakeroot-part-two/

Sorry, I don't know which (apparently closely related) plant you have instead.
 
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Steve,
I grew Commelina communis last year from seed from the HPS, it's supposed to be edible see eattheworld.  Have you tried eating it? Any views on that?  Since it is supposed to like it damp I thought it might like it here. I must try and find the pots it grew in and see whether it set seed for me.  The flowers are just such a great colour I'd grow it just for them.

 
Steve Thorn
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Andrea Locke wrote:

Steve Thorn wrote:I'm pretty sure this was boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, about to bloom last year. I really like the flower buds on this plant and just how it looks in general.



Hi Steve, the leaves look wrong to me for boneset.

Sorry, I don't know which (apparently closely related) plant you have instead.



Yeah you're right, this one is eluding me.
 
Steve Thorn
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Nancy Reading wrote:Steve,
I grew Commelina communis last year from seed from the HPS, it's supposed to be edible see eattheworld.  Have you tried eating it? Any views on that?  Since it is supposed to like it damp I thought it might like it here. I must try and find the pots it grew in and see whether it set seed for me.  The flowers are just such a great colour I'd grow it just for them.



That's neat Nancy! I haven't tried it yet but definitely want to try it this coming year!

Listing this from your link above as a note to my future self.

The flowers, young leaves and young stems of day flowers can be harvested and eaten. They have a very mild, pea like flavoring, and the mucilage texture can add a generous leafy body to your salad. After thorough washing you can add these straight into a salad or sandwich. Or alternatively cook them through in a soup or stir fry, this is a better option if you have foraged leaves that are a little bit older.



And from Wikipedia

In China it is used as a medicinal herb with febrifugal, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic effects. Additionally, it is also used for treating sore throats and tonsillitis.[2][7] Recent pharmacological investigations have revealed that the Asiatic dayflower contains at least five active compounds. One of these, p-hydroxycinnamic acid, shows antibacterial activity, while another, D-mannitol, has an antitussive effect.

grown for its larger petals which yield a blue juice used in manufacturing a paper called boshigami or aigami



 
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Andrea Locke wrote:

Steve Thorn wrote:I'm pretty sure this was boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, about to bloom last year. I really like the flower buds on this plant and just how it looks in general.



Hi Steve, the leaves look wrong to me for boneset.

Sorry, I don't know which (apparently closely related) plant you have instead.



Yeah you're right, this one is eluding me.



It looks like a Joe-pye weed, Eutrochium is the genus although it used to be Eupatorium. Not sure on the species in this case, as it looks different from the one I'm familiar with, but I bet if you look at species for your region, you'll find it.
 
Steve Thorn
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I loved the way these white mushrooms looked last November growing on this dead stick. Almost all of the plants were either dormant or had died back for the year, so these mushrooms really stood out in the landscape.
20201127_170251.jpg
Bright white mushrooms growing on a dead stick
Bright white mushrooms growing on a dead stick
 
Steve Thorn
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This wild and beautiful wildflower groundcover is the perfect late winter/early spring natural groundcover. It grows low, covers and protects the soil, retains moisture, accumulates nutrients, and provides habitat for beneficial animals and insects.
20210312_165352.jpg
wild and beautiful wildflower groundcover
wild and beautiful wildflower groundcover
 
Marisa Lee
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Wow, that’s a lot of green! My snow is just melting away and the first hints of spring are coming up now. So your ground cover had a couple things going, at least. Chickweed is the one with smooth, toothless leaves and white flowers. It looks like Stellaria media, but could be another chickweed. The other one is in the mint family, the one with hairy, toothed leaves and pink-purple flowers. Hard to tell exactly what it is, henbit, creeping Charlie, or something like that. It’s fun to see those little flowers, while I’m just waiting for spring to really arrive.
 
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Okay now that I'm looking at this on my computer instead of my phone, I can see three things going here. I don't have it down to the species, but pretty confident on the genus.

The most common is the chickweed, the white flower with five white petals split to look like ten, and simple toothless leaves. I only circled it once because it seems to the the dominant plant here. I believe it's Stellaria media but it could be another Stellaria species or it could be one of our native chickweeds, genus Cerastium. Both types of chickweed are edible. Of course there's not much to it, but it can be thrown into a salad for micronutrients if this is a clean spot to gather food. I'm not sure about medicinal uses.

The somewhat purple one with irregular shaped flowers and toothed/scalloped leaves is in the mint family. I believe it's henbit, in the Lamium genus, although to me it's not a dead ringer for the henbit I have here so that's why I've got some uncertainty. Henbit is edible, not "minty" but another green, again, like the chickweed. Also used as a medicinal tea for a variety of purposes.

The one I didn't catch before is a speedwell, in the genus Veronica. It has blue-violet flowers with four petals and fuzzy leaves. It is not Veronica officinalis (the one most commonly used medicinally) but closely related. As a medicine, speedwell is used for allergies and may have anti-inflammatory properties. Speedwell is also edible.

Typically a plant (or plant part) that is strongly medicinal will not also be edible. All these edible little leaves and flowers that can also be used in medicinal teas, I would consider gently medicinal, fine to use in a daily tea blend for general wellness - not the kind of medicine you have to reserve for treatment of acute illness/injury.

groundcover.jpg
your plants annotated
your plants annotated
 
Steve Thorn
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Neat info Marisa!

I think the mint family one labeled henbit is dead-nettle, Lamium purpureum, but I also found tons of henbit nearby too! They look really similar.

I like the way you notated on the photo, which program do you use for that?
 
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The purpley one isn't henbit. It's 10000% deadnettle, a plant very common where I live. It's edible and the rabbits like it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamium_purpureum
 
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Ah, cool. We don't appear to have that species of Lamium up here (northern Wisconsin, along Lake Superior), but I'm sure we will soon enough since it is present in the southeastern part of the state along Lake Michigan.

When I look at pics on my computer, the default app that opens them is called Preview and it has a tool called Annotate to mark up images. I just used that. I think my phone has the same kind of options too but I just find it easier on a computer.
 
Steve Thorn
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I dug up this one year old pokeweed to plant something else in this spot. The roots are huge, almost as round as a softball! I used to really not like pokeweed, but now I am really appreciating it as a great pioneer plant.
20210314_162411.jpg
Giant pokeweed roots!
Giant pokeweed roots!
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I was really exited to find what I'm pretty sure is American ground nut (Apios americana).



Yes, that definitely appears to be Apios americana.
 
Steve Thorn
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Wild violet is very common in the food forest currently.
20210326_085914.jpg
Wild violet
Wild violet
20210406_183108.jpg
Violet flower closeup
Violet flower closeup
 
Steve Thorn
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Check out Judson's recent video of all of the many uses and benefits of violets.

https://permies.com/t/159262/kitchen/Herbal-Medicine-Lesson-Violet#1247150
 
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