All trees are beneficial in their own way. They all have multiple functions and gifts that contribute to the whole interconnected web of life. But there are some out there that do extra special jobs and have multiple functions that we can use and benefit from and make our jobs as gardeners, stewards, interveners easier. Two categories of plants that are extremely helpful are Nitrogen Fixing Plants and Dynamic Accumulators.
Nitrogen fixers are plants or trees from the legume family. They have a special ability to take nitrogen from the air, take it down to its roots, pass it to a bacteria it is friends within the root zone that then puts it into the soil making it available for other plants in the area to use. These plants are like onsite fertiliser machines and a key in permaculture design. When they are strategically placed they can save us a lot of time and work.
Dynamic accumulators are plants that accumulate a lot of nutrients and minerals, sometimes hard to find ones, into their bodies and leaves from the soil. So we can also strategically put these into our designs and use them for cycling nutrients and minerals through the soil and to our plants.
Here are some of our favorite beneficial plants that we try and add to all of our designs.
Comfrey, a gem of a Dynamic Accumulator that propagates and grows without fuss. It’s deep tap roots mine nutrients and minerals from deep down and brings them up into to the leaves. It is great for planting around fruit trees and vegetable gardens, chopping and dropping the leaves when you want to add nutrients or rich mulch to the soil. We try to have at least one comfrey plant in each garden bed. It is not only a beneficial plant to have in the garden but is also fodder for animals, amazing for putting on sore muscles, bones and irritated skin.
Pigeon Pea is another super plant, being a legume it fixes nitrogen into the soil. Chopping and dropping the plant when you want to add nutrients or rich mulch to the soil. It produces an edible pea which is delicious, the beautiful flowers also great for attracting bees and beneficial insects and the leaves are great fodder for animals and insects.
Siberian Pea produces trees pods that can be food for humans, animals, and bees. The Leaves are good animal fodder and it has great biomass which makes it great for chopping and dropping as a nitrogen fixer.
Tree Lucerne or Tagasaste is a hardy plant growing easily in poor soils. It fixes nitrogen and generates huge amounts of biomass, it is like a mulch machine making it great for areas which need soil repair. It makes it amazing for chopping and dropping. Leaves are great animal fodder.
Black Locust is great for timber. Nitrogen fixer, fast growing and great for chop and drop, grows edible flowers, leaves are great animal fodder and are beneficial as a bee and insect attractor.
Honey Locust has the same benefits as the black locust but an addition it also has edible pods for human consumption.
Mulberry, Dynamic accumulator that grows really easily in a wide range of conditions. Heavy fruiter, delicious and nutritious fruits. Leaves also make a potent herbal tea with health benefits used a lot in traditional Chinese medicine. Also, the leaves make great animal fodder.
If you know of any other great permaculture star multi-purpose trees please let us know. Contact us here.