A couple of readers on our
homesteading blog asked why I was planting a Siberian pea shrub Caragana
The answer is — for chickens! And bees, and
nitrogen-fixation. Eric Toensmeier includes Siberian pea shrub in
his top 100 forest gardening species, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
However, it looks like I
might have ordered too quickly. Despite Toensmeier promising that
this native of Asia isn’t invasive, a search of the internet turns up
reports of invasiveness throughout the cold parts of North
America. Siberian pea shrub is listed as an invasive in Wisconsin
and probably will soon be listed in Alaska and parts of Canada as well.
On the other hand, it’s
possible that we’re too far south for Siberian pea shrub to really
thrive — the species is hardy from zones 2 to 7 and we live near the
southern end of its range. And, if all goes well, the chickens
should eat all of the seeds, so there wouldn’t be any for wild birds to
Even though I decided
not to plant guomi for this very reason, I
think I’m going to take a chance on Siberian pea shrub. But I’ll
watch the surrounding woods with an eagle eye and rip it out if the
plant seems to be invading. Even if Siberian pea shrub beans are
a great source of protein for our chickens, it wouldn’t be worth adding
a new invasive to our already-ailing wild areas.
while they hunt for wild foods.