Useful plants - Ingenio patet campus



  Useful Plants




This is the humble start of a nursery dedicated to the needs of Food Forests, Permaculture and Agroforestry.
All plants here are already official naturalized in New Zealand. They have the 'Basic' MPI status and are approved by the MPI if imported.


Chinese Musk Mallow (Abelmoschus moschatus) perennial vegetable
Siberian Pea Shrub (Caragana arborescens) legume shrub
Wild Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng) perennial herb
Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) edible giant bamboo
Chinese Quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) understory fruit tree
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis) canopy veggie and timber tree

Some general guidelines, if not otherwise specified:

· Plant the seed twice as deep as the width of the seed.
· Adjust the temperature for germinating to 25.5°C.

Chinese Musk Mallow (Abelmoschus moschatus)
Chinese Musk Mallow Abelmoschus moschatus

Layer / Type Herb / Perennial vegetable growing up to 2 m by 1 m at a fast rate.
Habitat Surface grown part is frost tender. The rootstock can survive up to -5°C when established. It can usually be grown as a herbaceous perennial with new shoots being produced freely from the rootstock. Prefer a rich well-drained soil in a sunny position. Tolerates a pH in the range 6 - 7.8
Cultivation Soak seed over night in water. The seed germinates best at a temperature around 24°C to 28°C. Seed is sown 1-2 cm deep. Under favorable conditions, germination starts 4-15 days after sowing and is complete after 15-30 days. Keep seed medium moist but not soggy.
If you haven't a frost free climate, apply a good mulch to the roots in autumn and cut the stems back to about 15cm long in spring. This will ensure an abundance of new growth and plenty of flowers in summer.
Uses Young leaves, shoots and unripe seedpods are used as a vegetable in much the same way as the related Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). The fried or roasted seed has a flavour similar to sesame seeds. The seed contains 18.9% fatty unsaturated omega-6 linoleic acid. The seed oil has a high economic value.


Siberian Pea Shrub (Caragana arborescens)
Siberian Pea Shrub Caragana arborescens

Layer / Type Shrub / Deciduous shrub growing up to 4 m by 4 m at a fast rate.
Habitat Frost hardy up to -30°C. Need likely some hundred chilling hours to grow well. Suitable for a broad range of soils and pHs, including salt-contaminated soils. Succeeds in nutritionally poor soil and also in dry ones. Established plants are very drought resistant. Dislike waterlogged soils. Do best in a well-drained, light, sandy soil in full sun. Precipitation tolerance: 300 mm - 1400 mm
Cultivation Pre-soak the seeds for 24 hours in plenty of warm water. If the seed has not swollen then, scarify it and re-soak for another 12 hours before sowing. Germination usually takes place within 2-3 weeks at 20°C. First seeds after approx. 3-4 years.
Uses The seed is nutritious and wholesome. It contains 12.4% of a fatty oil and up to 36% protein. The seeds have a bland flavour, there are best used in spicy dishes. Young pods can be cooked and used as a vegetable. The yellow flowers have a taste like peas and can be used in salads to add colour and some flavour. A very good bee plant. The honey created has a pleasant taste, slightly 'fruity'. The plant fix nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Quite wind-resistant and tough, often used in a hedge. The recommended hedge spacing is 30-60 cm. Lifespan: 50 years+


Wild Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Wild Korean Ginseng Panax Ginseng

Layer / Type Perennial herb growing up to 0.8 m by 0.7 m at a slow rate.
Habitat Frost hardy up to to -20°C. During cold winters, ginseng will die back and go dormant. It will regrow in spring. Need likely some hundred chilling hours to grow well. Ginseng is slow growing and can reach up to 100 years lifespan. Requires a moist, humus rich, well draining soil in a shady position. Tolerates full shade. Ginseng does not tolerate drought or wet feet. Want a soil pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5. Average heat requirement: 9°C - 13.8°C. Precipitation tolerance: 700 mm - 1900 mm.
Cultivation Stored seed requires warm and cold stratification. 20 weeks at +16 - +20°C followed by 30 weeks +2 - +5°C on damp sphagnum moss in a zip-lock bag. Keep seed medium moist but not soggy. Adding a mild fungicide is recommended. If any of the seed germinate while stratification, plant them. Plant the seed about 2 cm deep. The seed germinates best at a temperature around +20°C. The seed germinate slow and erratic. If you alternative seed in situ, it can take up to 18 month until the seed germinates. 31 cm minimum space between plants recommended. Ginseng likes cold, dark and wet weather and may be killed under high temperature, strong light or drought conditions. Ginseng like a leaf mulch. Ginseng is self pollinated by insects. You will get blossoms and berry in the 2 to 3 year. The root can be harvested in the 4-7 year. Rodents also love to eat ginseng roots.
Uses Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine. It has a history of herbal use going back over 5,000 years. The root has also a high economic value.


Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis)
Moso Bamboo Phyllostachys edulis

Layer / Type Canopy plant / Evergreen plant (actually a grass) growing up to 24 m by 4 m at a very slow beginning rate increasing to up to 1 m per day.
Habitat This plant is hardy to about -15°C. Thrives in rich loamy soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season but not soaked. Likes abundant sunshine. Need a soils with a pH of 4.5 - 7.0. Average heat requirement for full size: 13°C - 20°C. Precipitation tolerance: 800 mm - 2700 mm.
Cultivation Soak seeds for 10 minutes in 25°C warm 10% salt water (1 part salt to 9 parts water). Rinse with clear water. Soak them for another 30 minutes in plain 25°C warm water. Use a moisture, but not wet, 50% vermiculite and 50% peat/sphagnum moss media. Cover the medium to raise the air humidity. About 75% germination rate after 2-3 weeks. Seeds should soon germinated or stored in a fridge at +4°C. Plant flowering cycle is 40 years. Non self-fertile, pollinated by wind. Will often survive flowering.
Uses Moso bamboo is the most important bamboo species in China. The young shoots are a highly esteemed food. They are usually cooked in one change of water. This is the edible Bamboo that is usually sold in cans. The shoot harvest window is 5-7 days (max. 35cm high). A good companion species to grow under very high trees. It has a shallow root system that does not compete with most tree species. It doesn't mind allelopathic species such as Black Walnut. The canes are universal usable: Heavy construction, furniture, handicraft, and bamboo plywood.
Note Running Bamboo need a spreading limiting situation like an island in a pond, a stream boundary or another kind of rhizome barrier if it is not closely ongoing managed (harvested). The recommendation to remove bamboo is a 2-3 weeks continually water flooding of its area in winter.


Chinese Quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis)
Chinese Quince Pseudocydonia sinensis

Layer / Type Understory tree / Deciduous, semi-evergreen tree growing up to 6 m by 4.5 m at a slow to medium rate.
Habitat The fully dormant tree is hardy to about -20°C. Need a hot summer to develop full cold hardiness. Thrives in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates poor soils and some drought, but prefers fertile, well-drained loam with even moisture. Self-fertile, pollinated by insects. pH range 5.5 - 7. Precipitation: 800 mm - ?
Cultivation Stored seed requires cold stratification. Put seed for 3 months at +4°C on damp sphagnum moss in a zip-lock bag. If any of the seed germinate in the refrigerator, plant them. Soak seed over night in warm water after stratification. Best germination rate at 22°C. The bark is not attractive to rabbits and deer.
Uses Attractive little tree with pink flowers, shiny dark green leaves and patchwork bark of gray, green and orange brown colour. Fruit oval shaped, up to 18 cm long, lemon yellow and intense fragrant. The fruits are very aromatic and sweetly but probably still too sour to be eaten raw off the tree. Good for juice, syrup, jellies, jams or pickled.


Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis) 'Red' - A rare red variety selected for the culinary quality of the leafs.
Chinese Toon Toona sinensis 'Red'

Layer / Type Canopy tree / Deciduous tree growing up to 20 m by 8 m at a fast rate.
Habitat The fully dormant tree is hardy to about -20°C. Thrives in most fertile well-drained soils with a pH of 5.5 - 8.0 in a sunny position. Grow well in calcareous soils. Do best in a rich loamy soil. Average heat requirement: 8°C - 23°C. Precipitation tolerance: 500 mm - 2000 mm.
Cultivation Stored seed germinates better if given a cold stratification. Put seed for 3 months at +4°C on damp sphagnum moss in a zip-lock bag. If any of the seed germinate in the refrigerator, plant them. Soak seed 24 hours in warm water after stratification. Best germination rate at 25°C. Surface sow the seed and press firmly into soil. Need light for germination. Germination takes usually 6-14 days. Easy to grow, insect pests and disease practically don't exist on this plant.
Uses The young shoots and leaves are a highly esteemed food in China, there resemble onions in flavor and usually boiled. Rich in vitamin A, the leaves also contain about 6% protein, 1% fat, 6.6% carbohydrate, 1.5% ash.
A very ornamental tree. The flowers diffuse a powerfully rich scent.
Wood - very durable, easily worked, takes a good polish. It is a very valuable timber, resembling mahogany, and is used for making furniture, window frames etc. The wood is delicately scented and is burnt in temples as an incense. Insects including termites do not like the wood.

A honest word about the seed business

If you start a seed business you can't start with just your own seeds.
Trees take usually 3 to 8 years until you get your own seeds.
Some plants, such as moso bamboo, take up to 40 years before you get your own seeds.
You have to buy and barter some seeds.
Seeds are living beings and you can't usually see from their appearance, how the viability is.
I try really hard to find seed vendors with a good reputation to order seeds from.
But many of my seeds are so rare that I'm glad to find at least one source for them.
I always plant seed from the batch I buy, but some seed need a stratification period of 3 month
and more. So it can take 4 months or longer before I know how viable a seed batch is.
And to make it even more complicated, the rest of the batch has to wait this 4 months and might
lose some of its viability. So checking every batch before it get sold is not really an option.
I have to trust my source.
I keep records of who has bought each batch.
If I find out that a batch has an unacceptable viability, you will get an email with the offer for new
seeds or your money back. I want satisfied customers.