20 Mar THE RISE OF FOOD FORESTS AND ITS UNIQUE EATS
GROW THESE UNIQUE FOODS IN YOUR GARDEN
Right about now, you’re likely thinking we’ve lost our minds over here — but rest assured, we haven’t. We just like to shake things up a bit from time to time, including recommending oddball foods to grow that are also sustainable. We got the idea from some reading we’ve done about food forests — and they are unique foods you can grow in your garden as well.
What are Food Forests?
Food forests are low-maintenance plant-based food gardens inspired by woodland ecosystems. They include a variety of plant types that are useful or medicinal to humans, including trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, and perennial vegetables. Food forests attempt to recreate growth patterns that happen naturally in forests and woodlands because they ensure a larger harvest while being earth-friendly.
5 Food Forest-inspired edible plants
Food forests often include edible plants that many gardeners have never heard of, so if you’re ready to venture out and try something truly different, keep reading. We’ve included the horticultural Latin names, because the common names of these unique plants aren’t often enough information to locate them to plant in your own food forest haven.
- Blue Sausage Tree: (Decaisnea fargesii) We simply had to lead with this one — and trust me, you’ll want to do an internet image search on it. Also called “dead man’s fingers” and “blue bean tree,” blue sausage tree is an ornamental tree that has blue, sausage-shaped fruit that ripens in the fall. The fruit is peeled, similar to a banana, and has a fleshy pulp that has a delicate watermelon taste. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8.
- Strawberry Tree: (Arbutus andrachne or unedo) Native to the Mediterranean, this ornamental plant is also popular in the northwest region of the United States. The little puffy balls look like lychee, and the plant’s name comes less from a strawberry taste than it does a similar strawberry appearance. The taste is actually a mild peach flavor, and is delicious in jams and liqueurs. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.
- Toothache Tree: (Zanthoxylum planispinum) Comanche and other Native Americans chewed on the bark of this tree to help ease the pain of a toothache, hence the plant’s name. The leaves and berries of this tree will also produce the same mouth-numbing effect, but watch out — don’t swallow either leaves or bark, as they’re known to be slightly toxic. USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.
- Hosta shoots: (Hosta spp.) Hostas are usually grown for their ornamental foliage, but did you know that the young shoots are also edible? When they are still small and rolled up, these shoots have a slightly bitter taste that can be fried up in oil similar to squash blossoms. Who knew? USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
- Siberian Pea Shrub: (Caragana arborescens) This ornamental shrub has bright green leaves, yellow flowers, and green pea pods. The young green pea pods and flowers are edible with a light pea flavor, and the older pods are also edible after you cook them. Fun fact: when the pods are dried, they make a popping sound when they burst open, sometimes shooting seeds out several feet. USDA Hardiness Zones 2-7.