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Edible shade plants?

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  • #16
    I've now made a list of everyone's suggestions and am planning on making an edible shade garden this spring so I can test some of these out.

    I've been doing more research and have run across these possibilities which, again, I'm posting in case others are interested...

    Red Shiso also known as Black Nettle and Purple Perilla (William Woys Weaver's Heirloom Vegetable Gardening, page 331) Perilla frutescens, supposedly good for salads and as coloring and flavoring for pickles, grows in full sun to full shade, annual.

    Musk Mallow, Malva moschata, edible leaves for salads, hardy perennial, full sun to partial shade can tolerate/needs dry conditions.

    Tsi or Chameleon, Houttuynia cordata, will grow in partial to full shade, leaves good for salads and taste like cilantro or orange depending on the variety or strain, roots taste and smell fishy, can grow in swampy areas, highly invasive so should be planted in a container or buried container, ornamental.

    Ground Elder, Goutweed, Snow-in-mountains or Bishop's Weed, Aeopodium podagraia, used as a spring veggie, grows in partial to full shade, hardy perennial, also highly invasive.

    Giant bellflower, Campanula latifolia, hardy perennial, semi-shade to full shade, edible leaves and flowers.

    Linden, Tilia cordata, sun to semi-shade, this is actually a tree that has edible leaves and sap. I think you are supposed to eat the young leaves but that there are usually young, edible leaves growing on shoots around the base.

    Sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata, herby but good in small amounts for salads, semi-shade to sun, requires moist soil, hardy perennial.

    Anyway, I think I'm going to track these down too. Anyone have experience growing these in the shade and or for eating?

    Thanks!
    -Sara

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    • #17
      Yep, I have experience with Ground Elder, Goutweed, Snow-in-mountains or Bishop's Weed, Aeopodium podagraia -- oboy, do I ever. Short answer -- don't plant it, even in a container. "Highly invasive" doesn't begin to describe it. It's a noxious weed and so invasive and persistent that that you will never, ever get rid of it. It's in all the flower beds here and if I don't spend hours every spring and again in midsummer digging it out, it chokes everything else out. It spreads by runners that root and sprout prolifically, and when you dig them out, any little piece of root left behind becomes a root cutting that sprouts into a whole new plant.

      It's in all the neighbors' yards and lawns too, so even after I get it out of my flower beds, it just comes back from somewhere nearby. I tried Roundup on it one year and two doses were needed to even set it back. That lasted for a year or two and now it's back worse than before. Roundup doesn't kill the roots as well as advertised.

      I did find a description somewhere that said it is edible, so (before the Roundup treatment, LOL) I tried a nibble to see what it tasted like. It has a very strong parsley-like flavor, certainly not something I'd eat by itself or even in a salad. Very sparingly as a seasoning, maybe, but this stuff spreads so fast that you will have tons more than you can ever use as seasoning. And your other edible plants will get choked out unless you keep pulling up the goutweed.

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      • #18
        Shade edibles

        I would concur with rhubarb and asparagus as shade tolerant. My garden has become shadier as my neighbors trees grow. So I'm facing more of a part shade problem. Greens do pretty well including beets. But I'm still looking for more. The taro I have seen growing was literally under water. I'm going to try sun chokes and wintergreen.
        Blackberry

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        • #19
          Some other shade-tolerant edibles include:
          ** Solomon's seal (regular and giant), Polygonatum biflorum, giant is var. commutatum -- asparagus-like shoots in spring
          ** false Solomon's seal and false spikenard, Smilacina racemosa and S. stellata
          ** ramps/wild onions, Allium tricoccum -- greens and/or bulbs in spring
          ** rampsoms, the British cousin of America's native wild onion, Allium ursinum
          ** other, but not all, alliums
          ** alpine strawberries, Fragaria vesca
          ** hog peanut, Amphicarpaea bracteata
          ** mitsuba / Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica
          ** violets--leaves are a great addition to salads--viola odorata and other species
          ** currants, gooseberries, jostaberries (Ribes spp.), jostas especially are surprisingly productive in shade
          ** northern hardy kiwis are happy with a fair bit, though not total shade
          ** paw-paw tree, aka Michigan banana
          ** some of the Amelanchier spp. for berries, Juneberry, Saskatoon, service berry, shadblow are some of the common names
          ** salal, Gautheria shallon, a cousin of wintergreen
          ** some Vaccinium spp., huckleberries etc.
          ** Oregon grape, Mahonia aquifolium
          ** Morello cherry
          ** goumi, Eleagnus multiflora (bonus: not invasive like its cousins autumn olive and Russian olive)
          ** Schisandra spp. for berries
          ** plum yews, Cephalotaxus spp.: Beware poisonous look-alikes!
          ** vining spinach, Hablitzia tamnoides (a perennial spinach substitute)
          ** hostas, as mentioned previously -- I've tried the young shoots a couple of times. Raw I didn't like so much as it had a funny after-tingle in my throat. However, with a mere 30 seconds of steaming--just enough to wilt a bit--they were delicious, tasting shockingly similar to asparagus. Hostas are a common and cultivated vegetable in Japan. So I've read, with some varieties it is the leaf midrib that is eaten. However, the hostas available in the US are almost all hybrids rather than the species types available in (and native to) Japan, so it's hard to know what we have here that is best to eat. It will take some experimentation to figure that out.

          I haven't tried all of the above, either in terms of successfully growing them (some are not hardy to my Vermont 4b/5a zone) or taste value, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt.

          Please keep additional suggestions coming--as is obvious, I'm very interested in this topic!

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