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Agroforestry is the integration of trees and agriculture!

horticulture to produce a
diverse, productive and resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade and emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
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and productive system.
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Agroforestry News
Tapping birch
Volume 16 Number 1 November 2007
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 16 Number 1 November 2007
2 News: Bog myrtle beers / UK summer truffl es /
Maple sugar & climate change / Red squirrels
forecast the future
3 Paper mulberry: Broussonetia papyrifera
9 Nitrogen fi xation in plants
24 Hardy nitrogen-fixing plant list
33 Birch: wood, sap and bark uses
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily Ihose of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergi c to even tame
species. The edilor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsi ble for any
ill ness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Marti n Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscripti ons: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes, Devon, Tag 6JT. U.K. Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk Website: w.vw.agroforestry.co.uk
Myrica gale: bog myrtle in beers
One of the world's leading brewers is to create a new beer using bog myrtle, a plant that was
once used to flavour medieval beverages. Vikings and native Scots once drank a brew made
from bog myrtle (Myrica gale), a shrub which grows on boggy ground in the north of western
Europe, long before the Romans brought hops to Britain.
Now the Danish brewing giant Carlsberg is planning to use bog myrtle to flavour a new version
of one its range of strong 'bock' lagers. The firm has signed a supply deal with Scottish
company Highland Natural Products, which has already been instrumental in bringing several
bog myrtle lines to the market.
Richard Constanduros, HNP's managing director, said it was a "landmark deal
between a small
Highland company and a giant in the world of beverage production. "This clearly demonstrates
that small companies can provide the innovation that big companies need to stay ahead of the
market, and I foresee huge benefits for the Highland rural community in Scotland," he said.
Some micro-breweries in Scotland already use bog myrtle as a chief ingredient in specialist
beers. But beer experts said the interest being shown by Carlsberg, which is Britain's fourth-
largest brewer, would give it a major boost.
The use of bog myrtle as a major beer ingredient died out more than 500 years ago. Although
used extensively as flavouring in Britain during the Middle Ages, it was gradually replaced by
hops, which could be more easily grown on agricultural land closer to centres of population.
Bog myrtle is a distinctive shrubby plant which grows on wet , acidic heathland, bogs and moors.
Beer-making aside, it has had many uses in the past, including as a medicinal product lor
wounds, stress and coughs, as well as a midge repellent .
Earlier t his year, high street chemist Boots launched a new Botanies Sensitive Skin product
incorporating bog myrtle after five years of research and development. It has sourced its raw
material from bog myrtle plantations in the Highlands.
Source: The Scotsman, 2217/2007. http://news.scotsman.com/scotiand.cfm?i d-11 43222007
Truffles: Summer rain boosts UK truffle harvest
Hunters and farmers of truffles have reported a huge increase in the number and quality of the
fungi growing on roots of trees and the trend will continue as the main harvest gets under way
throughout August.
Nigel Haddon-Paton, the owner. of Britain's first. commercial truffle-growing company, recently
.from a secret he farms With a friend and found the sought-after fungi
growing .In lfr(e ,a pretty last y.ear but this time there's a huge
amount In eVidence, he sal.d. W? fe not gOI.ng to pick them Just yet but , like any crop, truffles
need water and thanks to thiS year s heavy ram they can be found right on the surface. ft
Although and .ltaly generally regarded to be the world leaders in the truffle market,
some speCies found m Brltam can be eaten and can fetch a high price on the international
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The heavy rainfall during June and July has particularly benefited the summer truffle, a caramel-
coloured fungi which is the main British species that is farmed and eaten in restaurants.
One entrepreneur set to benefit is the biologist Dr Paul Thomas whose business, Plantation
Systems, has pioneered a way of cultivating summer truffles in the UK. Dr Thomas used his
expertise as a biologist to find a way of impregnating the roots of trees with truffle fungus in the
laboratory and then transferring the saplings onto one of four plantations across the UK.
According to Dr Brian Spooner , head of mycology at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,
thousands of species of fungi in Britain will have benefited from the increased rainfall. "Recently
we've had a number of drought years and, on the whole, fungi won't do much in dry weather,"
he said. "This year has been quite different. We've had some quite nice collections brought into
Kew already and some of the truffles seem to be coming up early, although they will grow
throughout the year."
The expected bumper harvest will be particularly welcome to the UK's small number of truffle
farmers who are hoping that chefs and the wider public will be interested in buying local truffles
rather than more expensive foreign variants.
Dr Thomas believes truffles are undergoing something of a renaissance in Britain. "A few years
ago the main problem in the UK was that most people simply hadn't heard of truffles or didn't
know what to use them for," he said. "But truffles were once a very popular part of our culture."
(* Britain's summer truffle, Tuber aestivum, is a caramel-coloured species with white veins that
has a nutty and sometimes gritty consistency and can fetch up to 300/Ib. )
Source: The Independent, 6 August 2007
For full story, please see: htt p://news. independent .co. uk/uk/this britain/article2838660.ece
Maple sugar and creeping fears about climate change
Maple sugar maker Arthur Berndt has 16,000 maple trees on his Maverick Farm in Sharon,
Vermont, but he worries about their future. He says branches are dying, trees aren't
regenerating as well as they once did and yield less syrup than he given his equipment
and technology. He believes climate change may be to blame. "The long-term effects are that
sugar making in Vermont will become a thing of the past if left unchecked," said Berndt.
He sees a grim scenario for the future of the nation's No.1 producer of maple syrup. The
which has an estimated 500 million sugar maples, has about 2,000 sugar makers who produce
about 500,000 gallons of syrup a year. It's a key part of Vermont's economy -- and its image.
"When you think about all the other sugar makers in Vermont who depend on maple syrup for
some of their income," Berndt said. "That's not going to be available to them in 20, 30, 50 years
if we don', change things. And Vermont will not have the cache it once had, with people visiting
sugar houses, so it will have an effect on tourism as wei!'''
In the 20 years since Berndt and his wife bought Maverick Farm, they've noticed a change. The
maple trees, some already stressed by acid rain, have new challenges, such as pests he
believes are linked to warming climate. He fears the maple will move north and other trees,
such as hickory, oak and ash will prosper.
Many sugar makers who rely on freezing nights and thawing days have noticed a shift in the
weather. Mild winters have prompted sap to flow in February and sometimes as early as
January. "Traditionally, in the old days, you wouldn' t ever get a February run, " said Blaine
Moore, who works for Berndt and grew up on the land. "You look at the old sugar maker records
and April was when you made the syrup. Now, the last three years, we hardly made any in
Page 3
A study by the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center has found that the
sugaring season is three days shorter than it was in the 1940s. That doesn't sound like much,
but for a product with a season, it's a 10 percent reduction. And the season is starting
about a week early in many places.
This year was different. After an unusually warm January, cold delayed sugaring until mid-
March, which is later than usual in Vermont.

"That's nol at alJ inconsistent with global change," said Timothy Perkins, director of the research
centre. "We expect to have higher variability than we've had in the past." In an ongoing study,
the centre is assessing the impact of climate change on the maple indust ry. "Now we've lost 10
percent of the season, but people don't really notice it much. But at some point there will be
reductions in Perkins said.
Source: Associated Press, 1 April 2007 (in Boston Globe, USA)
Red squirrels forecast the future?
A coll aborative project between researchers in Canada, the USA, Ital y and Belgium has taken
place to study squi rrel population and seed masting.
Three squirrel populations were studied: An American red population in Yukon Canada and two
Eurasian red populations - one in Italy and one in Belgium.
There are two main themes underlying the project. The first concerns seed masting, the
intermittent production of large seed crops by plants, which is an adapllve reproductive strategy
in which one or more years of light seed production prior to a bumper crop (a masting year)
prevents seed predators from building population until the year following the bumper crop, when
it is too late for seed predation.
The second theme concerns the reproductive responses of seed predators to these boom or
bust cycles. The normal r.eproductive response expected from seed predators in a boom or bust
load cycle is a lagged response in which reproduction increases in the year following a mast
event and is reduced in years following low seed production.
Clearly, a seed predator population that is able to produce more offspring during a masting year
in advance of that year's mature seed crop would have a distinct evolutionary advantage. This
is exactly what was observed for the red squirrel populations studied in this project. The
Eurasian and American red squirrel populations differed slightly in the means by which this
reproductive increase was achieved, but the net result was the same. The authors found that:
"American reds gave birth to larger liUers in advance of high food production and were more
likely to breed as yearlings. The most striking effect was that females produced a second litter
aUer a fi rst litter (the equivalent of summer litters in Eurasian reds) in advance of
high f?od producllOn. In most females were still with the first litter when they
conceIved the second, suggestmg that the normal phYSIological inhibition of ovulation
characteristics of mammals has been circumvented."
These results give rise to an intriguing question: what cues to red squirrels use to anticipate a
crop? studi es suggest thai visual or chemical clues may be involved, possibly
to structures on the seed-bearing plants. Another question is whether
Amenca grey squtrrels do the same thi ng?
Source: Boutin, S et al: Anticipatory Reproduction and Population Growth in Seed Predators. Science,
2006, 314, 1928-1930.
Page 4
Paper mulberry:
Broussonetia papyrifera
The paper mulberry has long been used as a fibre plant both in its native range and also widely
across the Pacific Islands, and it sometimes surprising to find that this wel l known plant of
Polynesia is in fact hardy in mild temperate climates. As well as being a fibre plant it has edible
mulberry-like fruit and numerous other uses. It is naturalised in parts of South Eastern Europe.
Although the tree is fertile in its native range, the plants carried into the Pacific were all male
clones, transported and planted as rootstock or stems. Thus, the female plants with flowers and
fruit are absent there.
The tree was very important in traditional Polynesian culture, as its bark supplied one of the
most important materials in ancient Polynesia, tapa cloth. Today, the tree has disappeared
from most of its traditional range and is cultivated to any extent only in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
It is important in these places because it is a major source of handicraft income in the form of
finished tapa cloth.
Although it is no longer used in Polynesia for clothing, in Tonga and Samoa tapa cloth is still
worn during ceremonial occasions such as festivals or dances. It does not last very long when
worn as everyday clothing. The tree is grown in plantations and home gardens on islands
where tapa cloth is still made. It can tolerate a wide range of environmental extremes and even
does well in temperate climates (its native habitat).
Description and cultivation
Paper mulberry is native to Japan and Taiwan and is an ancient introduction across the Pacific
as far east as Hawai'i, It is a member of the Moreaceae family, and hardy to about -10C (zone
8 hardiness).
A deciduous tree, it reaches a height of 12 m or more if allowed to grow, but in practice It is
usually harvested by coppicing at a much shorter height when the stems are about 2.5 cm in
diameter and 3-4 m tall.
Leaves are very variable in shape, even on the same branch, they can be cordate or deeply
lobed (especially on young plants). They are downy underneath, 7-20 cm long and leak a milky
sap when torn.
Paper mulberry is dioecious - ie male and female flowers are borne on separate trees, in May-
June in the UK. Male flowers are pendulous catkins, and bear a lot of pollen and dense
plantings can cause allergy problems in spri ng. Female flowers develop i nto orange-red, round,
sweet juicy fruits, usually 1.5 to 2 cm but sometimes up to 3-4 cm in diameter.
The root system is shallow and relatively water-demanding. Larger trees are prone to windblow
in exposed locations.
Paper mulberries are easy to grow, tolerating most dr.ained soils and
It is quite drought tolerant and also tolerant of atmospheric pollutIOn (IS has been used as a city
street tree).
In the tropics trees and often coppiced annually for a bark harvest, whereas in the UK,
coppicing every 2 or 3 years is more appropriate.
Uses and products . .
The most significant part of the paper mulberry is its strong, fibrous bark used In making the
native bark cloth known as tapa.
The bark is also widely used to make fine quality papers.
The long, strong fibres of paper mulberry produce very
strong, dimensionally stable papers. In Japan it is the
most well known fibre used for making Japanese tissue
of varying thicknesses (mainly used in the conservation
of books and manuscripts) and Japanese paper or
Washi. Washi is used in many arts, clothing and other
The plant also has other uses:
The sweetish fruils are edible, sweet and fine to eat,
although where only male clones are present, such as in
the Pacific Basin, no fruit is formed. The fruits are fragile
and do not transport well.
Leaf vegetable. In Indonesia, the steamed young leaves
are eaten.
Medicinal. In Hawai'i , the slimy sap was used as a
laxative and the ash of burnt tapa was used for treating
thrush. In Samoa, an infusion of the crushed leaves is
sometimes taken as a potion for treating stomach pains
and lIIdefined abdominal pains. The leaf. bark and fruit
are used medicinally in Viet Nam, the Lao People's
Democratic Republic and Cambodia.
Animal fodder. The leaves are fed to pigs in Viet Nam,
the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Cambodia
and to silkworms in China. The leaves and shoots are
sometimes used to feed deer (and deer predation could
be a potential problem) .
Fuelwood. After removing the bark for tapa, the stems
can be used for kindling.
Fibre/clothing. The inner bark has been used for
centuries in Southeast Asia for paper and textifes. The
bark is traditionally used in Polynesia to make tapa. The
finest and most delicate tapa in Polynesia was made in
The making of tapa cloth
The bark is stripped from the
cut stems by making a
lengthwise incision across
the stem and pulling it off
intact to obtain a single long
The inner bark, or bast , is
then separated from the
outer bark, and any green
matter remaining on the bast
is removed using scrapers;
the bast is then washed to
remove the slimy sap.
The strips are pounded on a
wooden anvil using a square
beater made of a hard wood.
Two or three of the strips
are then felted together by
the pounding, helped by the
stickiness of the bark.
Several of the resulting
sheets are often pounded
together in layers to
increase the thickness or to
cover over thin spots or
holes in the individual
sheets. A bit of paste in the
sprinkling water is usually
used at this point.
These white tapas are then
painted or, as in Hawai'i,
printed with decorative
Hawai 'i. Nowadays, however, tapa making in the Pacific is limited to Tonga and Fiji and, to a
lesser extent, Samoa, and the tree and the art are nearly forgan en everywhere else.
Page 6
Paper mulberry - female flower and young fruits (source: Wikipedia)
Tannin/dye. Charcoal from the wood makes one of the best permanent black inks for tapa
Rope/cordage/ string. The bark fibre can be used to make rough cordage, as can the roots.
Ceremonial/religious importance. The bark cloth is used ceremonially in Tonga, Fiji and
Samoa. In Hawai 'i, tapa was important in burial wrapping and other funerary customs.
The making of Japanese tissue and paper
The inner bark of paper mulberries is harvested in the autumn and spring, with material from the
autumn harvest being considered better quality. Bundles of paper mulberry sticks are steamed
in a cauldron, then stripped of their bark and hung in the sun to dry. At this stage in the
process, it is known as kuro-kawa, or black bark.
To make paper, the black bark must be converted into white bark. The stored black bark is
soaked and then scraped by hand with a knife to remove the black outer coat. At this point , it is
washed in water and again placed in the sun to dry.
White bark is boiled with lye for about an hour, then left to steam for several more hours. At
this point, it is rinsed with clear water to remove the lye. Then, it is stream bleached (kawa-
zarashi). The fibres are placed in a stream bed around which a dam is built. Clean water is let
in periodically to wash the fibres. Alternatively, the fibres may be bleached using a process
called small bleaching (ko-arai). In this case, it is first placed on boards and beaten with rods
before being placed in a cloth bag and rinsed in clear running water.
Impurities are removed after bleaching though a process known as chiri-tori. Any remaining
Rieces of bark, hard fibers or other impurities are picked out by hand or , in the case of very
small pieces, by the use of pins. The remaining material is rolled into little balls and the balls
are then beaten to crush the fibers.
After being beaten, it is common for the fibres to be mixed with neri, which is a mucilaginous
material made from the roots (tubers) of Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita). This addition
makes the fibres float uniformly on water and also helps to slow the speed of drainage so that a
better-formed sheet of paper will result.
A solution of 30 percent pulp and 70 percent water is then mixed together in a vat. Neri may
also be added to the vat. Nagashi-zuki, the most common technique for making sheets of
paper, is then employed. The mixture is scooped on a screen and allowed to flow back and
forth across the screen to interlock the fibers. This process is ideal for forming thin sheets of
paper. The other technique for making paper, tame-zuki, does not use neri and forms thicker
sheets of paper.
The sheet of paper is placed on a wooden board and dried overnight, then pressed the next day
to remove water. After pressing, the sheets are put on a drying board and brushed to smooth
them. They are dried in the sun, then removed from the drying board and trimmed.
This process is usually undertaken in the cold weather of winter, as pure, cold running water is
essential. Cold also inhibits bacteria, preventing the decomposition of the fibres. Cold also
makes the fibres contract, producing a crisp feel to the paper. It is traditionally the winter work
of farmers, a task that supplemented a farmer's income.
Seed is easy - no pre-treatment is required. Sow in autumn or spring in a greenhouse. Seed
germinates in 1 - 3 months.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 8 12cm long with a heel can be taken in July-August in a frame.
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth can be taken in November in a frame.
Root cuttings in winter can sometimes lake.
Layering in spring.
Crawford, M: ART Useful Plants database, 2007.
Elevitch, C (Ed): Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands. 2006.
PFAF: PFAF Useful Plants database, 2007.
Paper mulberry seeds, and sometimes plants, can be obtained from the A. R. T. at 46 Hunters
Moon, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT, UK. www.aqroforestrv.co.uk
Page 8
Nitrogen-fixation in plants
Nitrogen gas (N2) constitutes four fifths of the world's atmosphere - a virtually inexhaustible
supply, yet very few plants and no ani mals can assimilate nitrogen in its free form. Nitrogen is,
though, the essential constituent of the proteins necessary for cell protoplasm, and all
organisms are dependent on having it available in a form which they can uti lize.
Most plants obtain their nitrogen from the mineralisation of soi l organic matter and plant
residues, and living organisms and ecosystems are organised to obtain and preserve usable
nitrogen. The modern use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers is fraught with long-term dangers
(depleting soil nitrogen reserves, pollution of groundwater, rivers and lakes), and the fertilisers
themselves will become increasingly expensive through increasing energy costs.
Biological nitrogen fixation, particularly of the symbiotic type, plays a crucial ecological role in
maintaining adequate nitrogen reserves in the plant world. Two groups of plants in particular,
the l egumes (Rhi zobi al plants) and Actinorhizal plants, can thrive without any fixed nitrogen
or with a minimal supply in the soil. These plants, through the agency of specific bacteria
(mostly Frankia and Rhizobium species) which invade the root hai rs and establish a mutually
beneficial association inside their root swellings (nodules) , can convert free air ni trogen into
fixed nitrogen for eventual plant protein assimilation and storage. These select groups of plants
have thus obtained an evolutionary advantage over most other living organisms. Root infection
and nodule development of both actinorhizal and legume symbioses are similar: the infection
occurs via the penetration of deformed root hairs by bacteria, or by the bacteria gaining entry to
the root through intercellular spaces.
Ecologically, most legumes and actinorhizal plants are pioneer species on open, ni trogen-poor
si t es. They improve the soil and enable the succession towards scrub or forest to begin. As
shading of them increases, they decline. Since they are pioneers, there is scope for them to
easily become naturalised and become somewhat weedy in the agricultural landscape - for
example, Elaeagnus angustifolia is regarded as a weed by some in western north America.
Several actinorhizal plants persist as understorey plants in open forest stands, and these plants
are generall y more shade-tolerant than the legumes.
Forest ecosystems are seldom at equilibrium, usually slowly accumulating Nitrogen during their
life cycle and suffering periodic large losses when vegetation is naturally or artificially removed.
Apart from the legumes and actinorhizal plants, there are a number of other systems involving
nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, notably 01 the bacterial genera Azotobacter, Anabaena, and
Nostoc. These systems involve the following:
Gunnera-Nostoc. Probably all Gunnera species display a localised infection of the
stem by Nostoc bacteria.
Azalia-Anabaena. The aquatic plants of the Azolla family form a symbiosis with
Anabaena bacteria.
Liverwort-Nostoc. The liverwort genera Anthoceros, Blasia and Cavirularia all form
associ ations with Nostoc bacteria.
Lichen associations. About 7% of lichen species are not of the traditional fungi-algae
symbiosis , but are instead formed of a fungi-cyanobacteria symbiosis. Nostoc is the
bacteria genus usually involved. The lichen genera Col/ema, Lobaria, Peltigera,
Leptogium and Stereocaufon form this type of symbiosis . They are particul arly
important as nitrogen-sources in Arctic and desert ecosystems, where fixation rates
may reach 10-20 Kg/ hafyear.
Leaf surfaces (the phyllosphere) . There is increasing evidence that free-living N-fixing
species of bacteria are abundant on wet and damp leaves in predominantly moist
Root zone (Rhizosphere). Free-living bacteria, for example Azotobacter species, may
be more abundant in the areas immediately adjacent to plant roots and aid plant
nitrogen nutrition.
Free-living. N-fixing bacteria thrive where the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio is high and there
is sufficient moisture, for example on rotting wood, in leaf litter, the lower parts of
straw and chipping mulches etc.
Nitrogen contri butions from N-fixing pl ants
There is a long history of utilising leguminous species for their nitrogen-fixing ability in agriculture and
horticulture - for example with clovers in leys, and with vetches or lupins in green manures. With careful
planning, the use of these annual or perennial legumes can provide all the nitrogen needed by the following
crop(s) - ego white clover in a ley can fix 100-200 Kg N fHa/year, alfalfa 150 Kg N fHa/year.
Average inputs in forest systems are listed below:
N Input from Kg/ha/year - average
Heterotroughs in soiV
rhizosphere titter 'NOod
Understorey nodulated plants
Interplanted nodulated trees
Dense nodulated trees
0.9 to 6.0
1.0to 11.0
5.0 to 100
50 to 300
Kg/halyear - maximum
Factors affecting nodule devel opment in legumes and
actinorhi zal pl ants
Page 10
Temperature. Depends on the bacteria species and the host plants, for example 4-6"C is
adequate in Vida faba, whereas 18"C or more is necessary for most sub-tropical and tropical
Seasonality. For most species, fixation rates rise rapidly in Spring from zero, to a maximum by
late spring/early summer which is sustained until late summer, then decline back back down to
zero by late autumn. In evergreen species, N-fixation occurs throughout the winter provided the
soil temperatures do not fall too low.
Soil pH. The legumes are generally less tolerant of soil acidity than actinorhizal plants, which is
reflected by Rhizobium species being less acid-Iolerant than Frankia species. Of the actinorhizaJ
plants, Alders (Alnus spp) and Bayberries (Myrica spp) are most acid tolerant. Of Rhizobium
species, acid-tolerance declines in the following order: CO'Npea group (most acid tolerant) - Soya
bean group - Bean & Pea groups - Clover group - Alfalfa group (least acid tolerant). In poor soils
which are low in Nitrogen, the introduction of N-fixing plants usually leads to considerable
acidification (eg. a fall in pH of up to 2.0 in 20 years for a solid stand), which ilself will in time start
to affect nodulation efficiency.
Availability of Nitrogen in the soil. If Nitrogen is abundant and freely-available, N-fixation is usually
much reduced, sometimes 10 only 10% of the total which the N-fixing plants use. In trials wilh
Alders, at low soil N levels (under 0.1% tolal soil nitrogen), the majority of N used by the alder
comes from N fixed from the air; when total soil nitrogen is as high as 0.5%, only 20% of the N
used came from fixed N from the air.
Moisture stress. In droughts, bacterial numbers decline; they generally recover quickly, though,
when moisture becomes available again. Some species (usually actinorhizal), for example Alnus
glutinosa and Myrica gale, are adapted to perform well in waterlogged conditions.
Light availability. Nitrogen-fixation is powered via sunlight and thus will be reduced in shady
conditions. For most N-fixing plants, which are shade sensitive, N-fixation rates decline in direct
proportion to shading, ie 50% shading leads to 50% of the N-fixed. The relationship for N-fixing
species which are not so shade-sensitive is not so clear: they may well continue to fix significant
amounts of nitrogen in shade.
Nitrogen availability and contributions
Nitrogen from N-fixers is made available to other plants by three main natural methoos:
Littertall, which is high in nitrogen
Root tumover (and leaching from roots), which is now believed to be a significant contributor to
Nitrogen flow, returning at least as much as litteriall does. Rne roots are grown annually on most
plant and these die off each year.
Mycorrhizal fungi. These are symbiotic fungi that form an association with plant roots - nearly all
plants form such associations. Where there is an established mycorrhizal mat (typically ulider
trees with the soil not cultivation and not heavily fertilised), the fungi can move nutrients around,
and will move nitrogen from areas of the soil where it is in high amounts (eg. under I around
nitrogen-fixing plants) to areas where it is lacking (ie demanding plants), sometimves moving it
several tens oif metres.
In addition to these, there may be interventions which aid the liberation of nitrogen, for example by regular
coppicing or pruning, with the prunings left to decompose on the soil floor or shredded and used as a mulch.
All the evidence now indicates that Nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs (both Actinorhizal and
leguminous) can fix comparable amounts of nitrogen to the common horticultural crops
mentioned above. Pure stands of Alders, Elaeagnus, Hippophae rhamnoides and others have
all been recorded as making an extra 150 Kg N per Ha per year (or more) available in Ihe soil.
Fixing rates obviously start off much lower than this for young plan Is, but maximum N-
production is reached within about 10 years.
Nitrogen accumulation rates can vary considerably, depending on the species-bacteria
combi nati on, age, growth conditions, time of year etc. They are also quite difficult to measure.
Overall, rates for legumes and actinorhizal plants are similar. Some recorded N-accumulation
rates (ie made available to other plants) for various genera are given below:
Alders (Alnus spp)
Ceanothus spp
Elaeagnus spp
Sea buckthorn
.(Hippophae rhamnoides)
L'espedeza spp
60-360 Kg/Ha/year
30-100 Kg/Ha/year
240 Kg/Ha/year
180 Kg/ Ha/year
100+ Kg/Ha/year
Lupinus arboreus
Myrica cerifera
17 Kg/Ha in 10 weeks in summer
120 Kg/Ha/year
Ulex europaeus 200 Kg/Ha/year
Taking 1 00 as a conservative average of the overall accumulation of N, gives a rate
of 10 g per m canopy of Nitrogen per year made available to other plants. This will be in good
light situations, the amount reducing in shady locations.
Assuming that the correct symbiotic bacteria are present in the soil, then in good light
conditions, 10-20 g of Nitrogen is fixed per m
of canopy area 01 these trees and shrubs. If they
are used beneath the forest garden canopy, but in the gaps between canopy trees so that they
still receive substantial (50%) light, then the amount fixed will be reduced by perhaps 50%.
Thus the following are conservative estimates 01 the amounts of Nitrogen which can be
expected to be fixed annually in low forests and forest gardens:
Full light (Canopy/hedges) 109 1m
of canopy
Part shade (Understorey) 5 g 1m2 of canopy
Uses of nitrogen-fixing plants
The use of N-fixers to supply essential nitrogen to enable other plant growth has several
advantages over the use Of ordinary fertilisers:
The supply of N is more regular and continues over a longer time.
There is less leaching and volatilization of the Nitrogen.
N-fixers also increase soil organfc matter.
The disadvantages are:
Page 12
Slower in producing fertility increases.
May be a source of competition.
Produces a managerially more complex ecosystem.
The use of N-fixers may be more expensive than using chemical fertilisers on a per-
unit N basis; however if the N-fixers themselves have uses, or long-term use of them
is envisaged, or wider environmental benefits are taken into account, this short-term
economic gain may be irrelevant.

Nitrogen fixing plants by lakes, ponds and rivers can be a major source of Nitrogen to the aquatic
ecosystem, one result being increased photosynthe:tic activity by phytoplankton which are at the start of the
food chain for many fish.
Agriculture and horticulture
Inlerplanting Nfixers with other crops is perhaps the most important role these plants can play in agricultural
and horticultural systems. The N they supply can allow for lower stocking rates of animals (overstocking is a
major problem in many countries including Britain), and reduce or remove the need for external sources of
Nitrogen. In agriculture the use of N-fixing annuals and perennials is common in green manures and
pastures, with species likes clovers fixing up to 200 kg/ha/year.
II is important to realise that the use of N-fixing trees and shrubs can only achieve an N-supply equivalent to
that which intensive agriculture or horticulture needs by utilising a large proportion of the total area.
Forest and fruiting gardens
The use of nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs to provide nitrogen for a cropping system has been rare to date,
mostly because of a simple lack of knowledge of what they can contribute. Some use as nurse crops in
forestry systems has been tried, and some species are known as soil improvers.
Using the figures above for Nitrogen fixation rates for oommon N-fixing shrubs and trees, ie 10 glm'l. of
canopy in full sun, 5 g/m'l. in part shade, recommendations can be made for exactly how many N-fixers
should be planted in an understorey to provide the nitrogen for (say) fruit crops. The major and minor
temperate tree and shrub crops fall into four categories of nitrogen requirements:
Very demanding
Slightly demanding
N per m
canopy req'd
10 g
N per acre required
40 Kg (88 Ib)
24 Kg (53 Ib)
8 Kg (18 Ib)
N per Ha required
100 Kg (220 Ib)
60 Kg (132 Ib)
20 Kg (44 Ib)
Therefore, using the above figures, for each of these categories, 1 m'l. canopy of tree/shrub crop requires the
following canopy area of N-fixing treeS/shrubs to supply nitrogen (assuming there are no other understorey
plants utilising the N fixed):
Very demanding
Slightly demanding
N-fixers in full sun
1 m'
The tree and shrub crops fall into the following groups:
Very demanding
Citrus sp
Slightly demanding
(Arne/anchier sp)
Strawberry tree
Berben's sp
Plum yews
(Cephafotaxus sp)
Carnelian cherry
(Comus mas)
N-fixers in part shade
2 m'
0.1 m
Angelica tree (Aralia e/ata)
Paper mulberry
(Broussonetia papyrifera)
Redbuds (Gereis sp)
(Cladrastis lutea)
Hazels - for poles
Winter's bark (Drimys sp)
Page 13
Very demanding Demanding Slightly demanding
Dogwoods (Comus sp)
Azarole (Crataegus sp)
Blue bean
Eucalypts Persimmons
(Oiospyros sp)
(Decaisnea fargesil)
Date plum
(Diospyros lotus)
Honey locust
Snowdrop tree
(Halesia carolina)
Bayberries (Myrica sp)
Sumachs (Rhus sp)
Sorbus sp
(Xanthoceras sorbifofium)
Zanthoxylum sp
Beech - for leaves
Witch hazel (Hamamelis sp)
Golden rain
(Koe/reuteria paniculata)
Bay (Laurus nobifis)
Spice bush
(Lindera benzoin)
(Oxydendrum arboreum)
Pines ' or nuts
Hop tree (Pte/ea trifoliata)
Umes for leaves (Tilia sp)
Thus, for example, a walnut or chestnut orchard should be sel'-sufficient in nitrogen if an equal area is given
to the nut trees and to N-fixing trees/shrubs in sun; an apple or pear orchard should require 37% N-fixefS in
sun INith 63% apple trees to be self-sufficient (% by area, that is. Equates to 6:10 N-fixers:apples).
In practice, forest gardens (as opposed to orchards) may have ground cover layers and other shrubs to feed,
so the proportion of N-fixers required may be somewhat higher. Nitrogen fixers in the understorey shoutd be
located both throughout the garden, and also concentrated near demanding species.
Forestry ,
N-fixers are used in forestry as nurse trees, soil improvers and for erosion control: for example, Alnus
glutinosa and Elaeagnus umbel/ata dramatically improve the growth of Juglans nigra (black walnut) in North
America The benefits of interplanting N-fi xers increase where soils are deficient of Nitrogen.
The two main areas for introducing N-fixers into forests are as crop trees and as ecosystem improvers:
Crop trees
These can be introduced in three ways:
Continuous cropping - for example on 25-30 year rotations for fibre and Vv'OOd (eg. Alnus
glutinosa, A.rubra) ; or using 515 year short rotations for biomass production (Eg. Alnus
glutinosa. A.rubra, Elaeagnus umbellata, Robinia pseudoacacia).
Intercropping, using large N-fixing trees like the alders above between other species.
Alternate cropping INith other tree species, eg a 3D-year crop of A/nus spp followed by a non-N-
fixer, followed by another N-fixer etc.
Ecosystem improvers
These can also utilised in three ways:
Page 14
As a green manure crop before the non-N-fixing ~ r o p tree. For example, herbaceous legumes,
Dryas spp, Myrica spp.
As an N-lixing understorey beneath the crop trees (see also about forest gardens above). The
most promisi ng species are shrubby Alnus spp, Comptonia spp, Dryas spp, Elaeagnus spp,
Hippophae spp, Myrica spp, Purshia spp, Shepherdia spp and herbaceous legumes.
Most N-fi xers are shade-intolerant and are shaded out as the main tree crop grows, provided the
N-fixer does not grow faster than the main crop. II this is likely, then the N-fixing nurse can be cut
back or coppiced. Alternatively, the main crop can be planted before the N-fixing nurse so that
gets a head start: in one mixed planting of red alder and Douglas fir, a delay in alder
establishment of 4-8 years was needed to prevent overtopping of the fir. Use 01 N-lixing shrubs
avoids this problem of overtopping.
The tre'e lupin (Lupinus arboreus) is much used in New Zealand, interplanted with Pinus radiata
on sandy soils; the lupins rapidly establish and supply to the pines, which are planted 3
years after the lupins have been sown, after the lupins have been crushed to set them back.
Various annuals and perennials have been interplanted with trees to improve their groYJth and
establishment, including clover (Trifolium repens) via seed sown in the compost 01
containerised trees; Crown vetch (Coronilla varia) , Blue lupin (Lupinus angustifolius), Bokhara
clover (MeINotus alba) and Birdsfoot treloil (Lotus corniculatus) with poplars; Alaskan lupin
(Lupinus ardicus) with larch in Iceland; Lespedeza cuneata with pines; and Subterranean clover
(Trifolium subterraneum) with Pinus radiata in Australia. Interplanting Lupinus po/yphyllus with
spruce and Scots pine resulted in improved nitrogen, calcium and potassium nutrition of the trees,
faster litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. Most of these N-lixing species are shade-
sensitive, thus the N fixed by them falls as the tree canopy closes, and is near zero at canopy
closure; however, most of them leave long-lived seeds in the soil and when trees are thinned or
halVested, the N-fixing fayer regenerates.
Alone or mixed for soil stabilisation and amelioration. Useful species here include Ceanothus spp,
Myrica spp, Purshia spp and herbaceous legumes.
Mineral accumulators
Many N-fixers are excellent mineral accumulators, as befits their role as pioneer plants which improve soil
conditions for future successions of plants. They achieve this by finding mineral sources in the subsoil with
their deep taproots, and raising the minerals SO gained to their upper parts, which may be eaten or die off in
winter, releasing their minerals into the sailor fauna.
There is also increasing evidence that accumulated minerals may leach out of the roots into the surrouooing
soil, wtlere the root systems of other plants may be able to utilise them. A second method of accumulation is
via mycorrhizal associations, wtlere phosphorus is made available to the plants via these symbiotic fungi.
Several N-fixers are excellent windbreak trees, ego Caragana arborescens (Siberian pea shrub), Elaeagnus
spp. and Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea buckthorn). Maritime exposure (salt spray) is tolerated by several
species as well.
Bee (honey) plants
A large number of legumes are excellent bee (honey) plants, from perennials like clovers and vetches to
trees like the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).
Soil improvement
Using N-fixing plants increases soil organic matter by up to 20%. Soil organic matter is the primary storage
medium for soil Nitrogen, and an increase in it improves soil tilth, mineral levels, water retention, soil porosity
and aeration, and soil structure. There is now evidence that N-fixing understorey plants can recycle greater
amounts of phosphorus in litter and thus influence phosphorus cycling on sites where this mineral is in
limited supply.
Another effect often found is the suppression of fungal diseases, notably with alders. The reasons are not
clear, but the alders may release substances from their roots which suppress these fungi, and the increased
flitrification of soils may encourage pests of the fungi.
Edible uses
Many of the legumes and actinorhizal plants, because they are pioneer plants, synthesise various toxins
which are held in the aerial parts of the plant to deter animals from brO'NSing on them. However, others are
nor poisonous and many have edible seeds and leaves, for example in the pea (Pisum) and bean
(Phaseolus) species, while others have edible fruits, for example seas buckthorn and Elaeagnus.
Artificial inoculation
When utilising non-native N-fixing species, there may be a possibility that compatible strains of N-fixing
bacteria are not present in the soil. If this is the case, then no N-fixing will take place. One option when
sowing or planting such species is to artifidally inoculate with compatible bacteria.
Some inoculants (ie Rhizobium or Frankia spp) are available as dry powders to mix with seeds and ensure
that nodulation takes place; these are most commonly used with agricultural crops like soya beans. Strains
which nodulate tree and shrub species are less easily obtained (not at all in Europe). Soil populations of
bacteria often interfere with attempts to introduce new strains by inoculation and it cannot be wholeheartedly
recommended. There is also a lack of evidence of persistence of introduced bacterial strains in the soil.
The richest and most infective source of an inoculum is from root nodule material itself. This can be freshly
collected from plant roots (eg. grown in pots or from established plants), from species likely to cross-infect
with the desired plant. When nodules are collected, they are washed, pulverised in a mortar and pestle, then
diluted and the mixed used "either to drench seed beds or to dip seedling roots into. Such solutions must be
used within a few hours and will not keep.
This method is now quite commonly used in forest nurseries to inoculate alders; although these readily form
nodules naturally, when they afe used in mine reclamation projects the Frankia bacteria are not usually
present in the mine spoil. Note that excess 'nitrogen supplied to young plants will inhibit nodulation. For
most species, a pH near neutral is optimum for nodulation to occur.
When handling bare-rooted plants, care should be taken (as usual) to keep the rools moist, as nodules can
become desiccated and die if the rools are 100 dry.
A further method, more useful when planting Irees and shrubs or where they are already planted, is to add a
few handfuls of soil to the planting hole or around the base; the soil is taken from beneath established trees
of a similar kind or from mixed forests.
Recommended Nitrogen fixing plants for shady locations
Most N-fixing plants are pioneer species which are quite sun-demanding; they are at home in
Ihe canopy of a forest but often disappear from the understorey when shaded. The most shade-
tolerant (some even tolerating deep shade) are listed below. Trees larger than the general
canopy can be coppiced at intervals to ensure that other trees are not shaded. Similarly, large
N-fixing shrubs in the understorey can be kept under control by trimming when they get too
large. Such trimmings etc should be left on the soil floor or chipped and used as a mulch if
possible to ensure return of nutrients. The following are recommended for use in the UK. And
Page 16
us. where they are known to nodulate successfully (ie form working symbioses) unless noted
The definitions used below for part and full shade are as follows (PAR = Photosynthetically
Active Radiation, which is the part of the spectrum plants utilise. An open location in full sun
equates to 100% PAR):
Part shade species receives 25-60% of full PAR (ie 2-6 hrs of exposure to sun per day in
Full shade species receives 5-25% of full PAR (ie 0-2 hrs of exposure to sun per day in
Please note that many more species tolerate light shade than listed below - ie 60-80% of full
PAR, or 6-8 hours of summer sun per day.
All of the species below tolerate part shade (some actually prefer part shade). Those that also
tolerate full shade are underlined; those species which are tender or marginal in Britain are in
italics. Species in bold are particularly recommended for use in Britain.
Large/medium trees
(coppiced in understorey)
Alnus cordata
Alnus glutinosa
Alnus hirsula
Alnus lanata
Alnus matsumurae
Alnus mayrii
Alnus rhombifolia
Alnus rubra
Alnus subcordata
Alnus cremastagoyne
Alnus firma
Alnus jorulfensis
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus nitida
Amphicaroaea bracteata
Amphicaroaea edgeworthii
Amphicaroaea pitcheri
Apios ameri cana
Apios fortunei
Apios price ana
Glycyrrhiza aspera
Glycyrrhiza echinata
Small treesll arge shrubs
(may be coppiced)
Alnus maritima
Alnus maximowiczii
Alnus oblongifotia
Alnus orientalis
Alnus rugosa
Alnus serrulata
Alnus sinuala
Alnus tenuifolia
Elaeagnus angustifolia
EJaeagnus x ebbingei
Elaeagnus pungens
Elaeagnus x reflexa
Elaeagnus umbellata
Myrica cerifera
Alnus fruticosa
Coriaria sinica
Elaeaqnus glabra
Myrica californica
Rubus el/ipticus
Medium & small shrubs
Alnus viridis
Comptonla peregrina
Elaeagnus commutata
Elaeagnus fragrans
Elaeagnus gonuanthes
Elaeagnus montana
Elaeagnus multiflora
Elaeagnus yoshinoi
Robinia neomexicana
Coriaria terminalis
Elaeaqnus formosana
Elaeaqnus macroDhvlfa
Elaeaqnus maritima
Elaeagnus oldhami;
Elaeagnus thunbergii
Perennials (cont) Annuals
Lathyrus atatus Lathyrus odoratus
Lathyrus davidii
Lathyrus latifol ius
Lathyrus [inifolius montanus
Lathyrus sylvestris
Lathyrus tuberosus
Lotus major
Trifolium repens
Page 17
Perennials Perennials (cont)
Glycyrrhiza glabra
Glycyrrhiza lepidota
Glycyrrhiza malensis
Glycyrrhiza uralensis
Gunnera magellanica
Vicia sylvatica
Gunnera perpensa
The Legumes
The Leguminosae is a huge plant family of worldwide distribution and YJith an estimated
species in about 750 genera. The vast majority are of tropical origin. The family has been divided
taxonomically into three clear distinct subfamilies:
Mimosoideae: Mostly trees, shrubs and Vv'OOdy vines, with a few perennials. MosUy tropical in
Caesalplnioideaea: Mostly trees and shrubs, rarely herbs. Mostly tropical in origin, many lacking
in nodulation so not fixing nitrogen.
Papilionoideae: Trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The majority of the temperate legumes
belong here. Numerous members are economically important as edible nutritious crops fO(
human and animal consumption; also for ground cover, green manures, erosion control, and
honey sources. As pioneer plants in arctic regions they fonn the hub of an efficient nitrogen
source for the entire ecosystem.
Over 3,000 legume species have been examined for evidence of nodulation. Of these, a total of 91% did
nodulate and fix nitrogen, most in the subgroups Mimosioideae and Papitionoideae. In general, all species
in a genus either do or do not nodulate (the main exception being Cassia ....mich is erratic). Nodulation is
least prevalent amoung the CaesaJpinioideaea. The genera ....mich do not appear to nodulate are
Caesalpina, Ceratonia, Cereis (most or all), Cladrastis, Gleditsia, Gymnocladus, Hoffmanseggia and Senna
The reasons ....my some legume species do not nodulate are varied, but the common causes are wiry, thick-
walled root hairs (....mich the rhizobium cannot penetrate), and the presence of anti-bacterial compounds
inside the root cens. There is some evidence that Gfeditsia can fix nitrogen without forming nodules via a
different method.
Rhizobium species and strains
Rhizobia, in a free-living state, are very common soil inhabitants which can fix small amounts of nitrogen on
their own, though tiny amounts compared with those fixed in symbiotic relationships. Nodulation, and thus
nitrogen fixation, can only take place if compatible rhizobium species are present in the soil.
Some species of legume will nodulate with many different strains, while others only with specifIC strains of
Rhizobium. Individual Rhizobium strains are usually cross-infective, ie they win usually nodulate some other
species other than the host to which they are normally associated.
Most rhizobia fall into one or more of the cross-inoculation groups (CRG) below. These are groups of plants,
known to fix nitrogen, within which the root nodule organisms are mutually interchangeable. If rhizobia exist
in the soil for any of the species within a group, then most of the species within the group will also fix nitrogen
when planted in that soil. The exception to this rute of thumb is the cowpea group. Here, rhizobia from
species in the group all nodulate the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), whereas reciprocal crosses are not always
Page 18
Within a CRG, there may be many different strains of the rhizobium species, which will vary in their
effectiveness in achievi ng N-fixation. Thus just because a legume nodulates successfully doesn't mean that
the amount of Nitrogen fixed is always the same or at an optimum level.
Therefore, just because a species is not native does not imply that it cannot fix nitrogen. If it is in a CRG
(apart from the cowpea group) which includes native species than it is likely to nodulate successfully. If not,
it may still nodulate - populations of most rhizobium strains exist in many places, notably because of the past
practice of using soil as ballast on shi ps, which was off-loaded in ports.
Cross inoculation groups
Tree and shrub genera which are nodulated are listed in bold.
Black locust
Crown vetch
Prairie clover
Soya bean
Legume genera nodulated
Medicago, Melilotus, Trigonella
Phaseolus, Psoralea
Caragana, Colutea, Trifolium
Acacia, Albizia, Amorpha, Amphicarpaea, Apios, Baptisia,
Canavalia, Caragana, Cassia, Chamaecytisus, Clitoria,
Colutea, Crotalaria, Cytisus, Desmodium, Genista (prob),
Indigofera, Lablab, Laburnum, Lespedeza, Platyloblum,
Psophocarpus, Psoralea, Psoralidium, Pueraria, Sophora,
Spartium, Tephrosia, Thermopsis, Ulex (?), Vigna
Coronilia, Onobrychis
R.lupini Caragana, Hosackia, Lotus, Lupinus, Ornithopus,
T etragonolobus
R.leguminosarum Colutea, Galega, Lathyrus, Lens, Pisum, Vicia
R.japonicum Caragana, Glycine
The followi ng table indicates, for each temperate leguminous genus, which rhizobium group(s) nodulate it,
and its status of nodulation in the U.K. and North America. General lack of knowledge about nodulation
status means that this cannot always be answered definitively.
Possible entries in the nodulation status columns are 'yes', 'no', '1' '" unknown, 'prob' = probably, 'some' =
some nodulate, others do not, 'inoc' = usually needs inoculation of compatible Rhizobium bacteria if the
species hasn't been grown before.
Rhizobium group
Nodulates in UK?Nodulates in N.America?
? yes

several inel Lupin
? yes
Do Not Nodulate
Clover/CowpealLupin/Soya yes
? some
Do not nodulate
Most do not nodulate
Do not nodulate
Crown vetch
Prairie clover
Cowpea (prob)
? no
Soya bean
Do not nodulate
Do not nodulate
? yes
? yes
Page 20
Genus Rhizobium group Nodulates in UK?Nodulates in N.America?
Maackia ? ?
Medicago Alfalfa yes yes
Melilotus Alfalfa yes yes
Onobrychis Crown vetch yes prob
Ononis several yes yes
Ornithopus Lupin yes prob
Oxylropis yes yes
Petleria yes
Phaseolus Bean yes yes
Piptanthus several yes yes
Pisum Pea yes yes
Platylobium Cowpea prob prob
Psophocarpus Cowpea+ prob prob
Psoralea Cowpea+others yes yes
Psoralidium Cowpea? prob
Psorolhamnus Cowpea? ? yes
Pueraria Cowpea prob prob
? ?
Retama Cowpea (prob) yes prob
Robinia Black locust yes yes
prob prob
Sesbania Sesbania ? yes
Sophora Cowpea prob yes
Spartium Cowpea
yes yes
Sphaerophysa ? ?
Strophostyles Mealybean ? yes
Tephrosia Cowpea prob yes
Tetragonolobus Lupin yes yes
Thermopsis Cowpea+others yes yes
Trifolium Clover yes yes
Trigonella Alfalfa yes yes
Ulex Cowpea? yes prob
Vicia Pea yes yes
Vigna Cowpea yes yes
Wisteria yes yes
Actinorhizal plants
These plants rival legumes in the amount of Nitrogen they fix on a global basis, but knowledge 01 their
characteristics and uses is mostly very recent. Root nodules on these plants involve symbioses with Frankia
species. Frankia can grow in soil independently of a host plant, but then fix only quite small amounts of
Nitrogen. When a symbiosis is formed, nitrogen fixation rates are comparable to those found in legumes.
ActinorhizaJ plants are found primarily in the temperate zone, on every continent except Antarctica. They are
especially important in high-latitude countries (eg. Britain, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand) where
conditions are not too favourable for legumes, but where actinorhizal plants are abundant and capable of
vigorous gro'Nth.
Root nodules on actinorhizal plants are perennial structures consisting of multiple nodule lobes, often 3-5
mm in diameter. They may be discrete (eg. in Ceanothus & Myrica) or densely packed (eg. in Alnus), and
usually comprise 1-10% of the total biomass of the host tree/shrub. They become dormant in the winter (ie
no Nitrogen is fixed in the winter). A single plant usually associates with several Frankia strains at the same
time - up to 20 strains is quite common.
Temperate actinorhizal plants
All species in the genera Alnus, Ceanothus, Coriaria, Elaeagnus, Hippophae, Myrica, Shepherdia
nodulate successfully and fix nitrogen. In addition, the following species are known to nodulate successfully:

Species known to nodulate
C.betuloides, C.ledifolius, C.montanus, C.paucidentatus.
D.cannabina, D.glomerata.
D.drummondii, D.integrifolia, D.octopetala.
P .glandulosa, P .tridentata.
R.ellipticus, R.ferdinandi-muelleri
Several of these actinorhizal species can tolerate more shade than most legumes, and in the wild sUlVive in
the understorey of open forests, ego Alnus and Shepherdia with spruce and aspen in Canada. Alnus,
Elaeagnus and Myrica in particular have great potential as green manure trees/shrubs in semi-shaded
areas. Because alders drop thei r leaves very late in the autumn, they can take advantage of prolonged
autumnal photosynthesis and their leaves fall with high levels of N (higher than most woody species).
Frankia species and strains
In general, actinorhizal plants are promiscuous in the species/strains of Frankia with which they will
associate, and suitable Frankia are present in adequate amounts in most ecosystems for natural nodulation
to occur. Species in the Elaeagnaceae (Elaeagnus, Hippophae and Shepherdia) are particularly
promiscuous and cross-infect readily. Other cross-infective groups include the Elaeagnaceae and Myrica;
and Alnus and Myrica.
The following table lists the nodulation status of actinorhizal plants in the U.K. and North America. 'prob' =:
probably does nodulate, '?' = unknown.
Nodulates in UK? ,
Nodulates in N.America?
? yes
Shepherdi a
Page 22
Key to hardy nitrogen-fixing species table
Ever: evergreen species, ~ = evergreen
Thorn: thorny or spiny species
Sucker: suckering species
Soil moisture:
Dry: species likes a well-drained soil, bordering on the dry
Moist: species likes a moist soil (this does not mean wet)
Wet: species likes or tolerates wet soils
Water: species is an aquatic plant
Soil pH:
V.ac : species tolerates very acid soil (ie pH under 5.5)
Acid: species tolerates acid soil (ie pH 5.5 to 6.5)
Neut : species tolerates neutral soil (ie. pH 6.5 to 7.0)
Ark: species tolerates alkaline soil (ie pH 7.0 to 8.0)
V.ark : species tolerates very alkaline soil (ie pH over 8.0)
Soil type:
Light: species tolerates light (sandy) soils
Med : species tolerates medium (loamy) soils
Heavy: species tolerates heavy soils
H.cly : species tolerates heavy clay soils
Light requirements:
Sun: species tolerates full sun
L.shd : species tolerates light shade (60-80% of full PAR, ie 6-10 hrs of exposure to sun per day
in summer)
P .shd : species tolerates part/semi-shade (25-60% of full PAR, ie 2-6 hrs of exposure to sun per
day in summer)
F.shd : species tolerates full/ deep shade (5-25% of full PAR, ie 0-2 hrs of exposure to sun per
day in summer)
Wind: Indicates if the species tolerates strong winds
Marit : indicates if the species tolerates maritime exposure
Poll : Indicates if the species tolerates atmospheric pollution
Large & medium trees (over 10m high)
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid AIk Light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
U Thorn U
U V.ac U NeuI U v.aII U
"'" U
H. U Lshd U F.shcl U Marit U
Alnus cordata

Alnus olutinosa

Alnus hirsuta

"t Alnus incana

Alnus japonica

Alnus lanata

Alnus malsumurae

Alnus mayrii

Alnus rhombifolia

Alnus rubra

Alnus subcordata

Cercis chinensis

Hippophae salicifolia

Maackia amurensis

Robinia x ambiQua

Robini a fertiUs

Robinia Ilava

Robinia pseudoacacia

Robinia viscosa

Sophora iaponica

Small trees & large shrubs (over 3 m high)
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid A/k Light Heavy Sun P.shd Wro Pol
U Thorn U
U V.ac U Neut U v.aD<. U Med U He! U l.shcl U F.shd U Marit U
Alnus maritima

Alnus maximowiczij

Alnus oblonQifolia

Alnus orientalis

Alnus ru osa

Alnus serrulata

Alnus sinuata

Alnus lenuifofia

Amo ha fruticosa

Caragana arborescens

Caragana decorticans

Ceanolhus inleQerrimus

Ceanolhus megacarp!-,s

Ceanolhus Ihyrsiflorus

Cercocarous ledifolius

Cercocarpus monl anus

Colutea arborescens

Elaeagnus angustifolia

Elaeagnus anQ. oriental is

Small trees & large shrubs (over 3 m high) cont
Eller Sucker Moist Water Acid ASk Ugh! Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
UThom U On U U 1I.at:. U Neut U v.aII. U Mod U H. U Lshd U F.shd U Marit U
Elaeaanus x ebbinaei

Elaeaanus un ens

El aeaanus x reflexa

Elaeaanus umbellata

Hioooohae rhamnoides

Laburnum aTDlnum

Laburnum anaovroides

Laburnum x watereri

Lesoedeza maximowicvii

MYrica cenfera

Robinia luxurians

SheDherdia arnentea

Medium & small shrubs (1 - 3 m high)
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid Alk Light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind PoH
U Thorn U On U U V.ac U Neut U v.aJk U Mad U H.eI U LsM U F.shd U Marit U
Alnus viridis

Alnus viridis crisoa

Amomha canescens

Cara ana brevisoina

Caraaana fruticosa


Cara ana erardiana

Caraaana 'ubata

Caraoana sinica

Ceanothu5 americanus

Ceanothus cuneatus

Ceanothus fendleri

Ceanothus sannuineus

Ceanothus velutinus

Colutea x media

Com tonia peree !ina

Comotonia oere. asolenifolia

Coronilla emerus

Cvtisus x oraecox

CVtisus scc;;:;;lrius

Desmodium caudatum

Desmodium dunn;i

Desmodium elee ans

Elaeaanus commutata


Elaea nus fra rans

Elaeaanus aonuanthes

Elaea nus montana

Elaeaanus multiflora

Medium & small shrubs (1 - 3 m high) cont
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid Ak light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
UThom U
U Wet U V.ac U NeuI U v.aII U Med U Hot U L.shd U F.shd U Mam U
Elaea nus yoshinoi


Halimodendron halodendron

Indigofera heterantha

Indigofera kirilowii

Lespedeza bicolor

Lespedeza cyrtobotrya

Lesoedeza floribunda

Lespedeza japonica

Lespedeza iuncea

Lespedeza thunbergii

Mvrica gale


Myrica hetero hylla

Myrica pensylvanica

Purshia tridentata

Robinia neomexicana

Shepherdia canadensis

Sophora davidii

Sophora flavescens

SOphora sub rostrala

urex europaeus

Ulex parviflorus

Dwarf & prostrat,e shrubs (under 1 m high)
Ever Sucker PY'oist Water Acid AIk Ught Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Poll
UThom U Il<v U Wet U V.ac U Neut U v.aJk U Mod U Hd U L.shd U F.shd U Marit U
Amorpha nana

Astragalus massiliensis

Ceanothus ovatus

Ceanothus prostratus


Cytisus x beanii

Cytisus decumbens

Cvtisus hirsutus

Cytisus x kewensis

Dryas inteorifolia

Dryas octo etala

Genista Qermanica

Genista hispanica

Genista lydia

Genista oilosa

Genista sa ittalis

Genista tinctoria

Genista villarsii

IndiQofera decora

Indi of era seudo-tinctoria

Dwarf & prostrate shrubs (under 1 m high) cant
Lespedeza buergeri
Lespedeza capitata
Lespedeza pilosa
Lespec!eza sericea
Ulex gaJlH
Ulex minor
Climbing shrubs
Wisteria floribunda
Wisteria x formosa
Wisteria frutescens
Wisteria sinensis
Wisteria venusta
Wisteria villosa
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid AIk Light Heavy SUIl P.shd Wind PoH
U Thorn II D U
U V.ac U Neul U v.elk U Med U H.d



Ever SUcker Moist Water Acid Alk
U U U U h ~ o DO
V . ~ U U No",

Light Heavy
v.alk U U

U l.shd U F.shd U Marit

Sun P.shd Wind
U U U Lshd F.shd

Perennials and climbing perennials
EVBf Sucker Moist Water Acid AJk Light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
UThorn U Dry U
W"' U
V.ac U NeuI U v.aD!. U Mad U H.d U Lshd U F.shd U Marit U
Amphicarpaea bracteata

Amohicaroaea edqeworthii

Amphicarpaea itcheri

Anthyllis vulneraria


A ios americana

Apios fortunei


A ios priceana


Astra alus aboriginorum

Astraaalus canadensis

Astra alus chinensis

Astraoatus complanatus

Astra alus crassicarpus

Astraoalus diphysus

Astra alus exsca us

Astra alus Olycyphyllos


Astra.9illUS henryi

Astra alus hoantchy

Astraaalus membranaceus

Astra alus mongho!icus

Astraoalus multiceps

Astra alus pamassi cylleneus

Aslraoalus pictus-filifolius

Perennials and climbing perennials cont
EVSf Sucker Moisl Water Acid A1k light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
U Thom U
U W ~ U V.ac U Neut U v.alk U .... U H.<t U l.shd U F .shd U Marit U
Astragalus reflexistipulus

Astragalus shinanensis

. Baotisia australis

t Sa !isia bracteala

Baptisia pendula

Baptisia tinctoria

Coronilla varia

Dalea candida

Dalea gattinQeri

Dalea urpurea

Desmanthus illinoensis

Oesmodium oldhami

Desmodium oxyphyllum

Desmodium styracifolium

Gale a officinalis

Glycyrrhiza aspera

Glycyrrhiza echinata

Glycyrrhiza labra

Glycyrrhiza lepidola

Glycyrrhiza malensis

Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Gunnera magellanica

Gunnera tinctoria

Hedysarum alpinum

Hedvsarum arcticum

Hedysarum boreale

Hedysarum boreale mackenzii

Hedysarum coronarium

Hedysarum hedvsaroides

Hedysarum occidentale

Hedysarum sachalinense

Hedysarum vicioides

lathyrus alatus

lathyrus davidii

lathyrus hirsutus

Lathyrus aponicus

lathyrus aoonicus maritimus

lathyrus latifolius

lathyrus linifolius monlanus

Lathyrus ochroleucas

Lathyrus ornalus

Lathyrus oalustris

Lathyrus polymorphus

Lathyrus oralensis

Lathyrus uinquenervius

Lathyrus sylvestris

Perennials and climbing perennials cont .
Ever Sucker Moist Waler Acid All<. light Heavy Sun P -She:! Wn::I Pol
UThom U U Wet U U l.shd U F.shd U Marit U
V.w:. U Neut U v.alk U Mad U H.d
Lathvrus tuberosus

Lesoedeza tomentosa

Lotus comiculatus

Lotus haloohilus



Lotus tenuis

Lotus uilmnosus


Luoinus littoral is

Luninus nootkatensis

Luoinus oerennis

Lupinus nilosus

Medica 0 falcata

Medicaao olatvcarna

Medicaao ruthenica

Medicaao sativa

Melilotus altissima

Onobrvchis vicifolia


Ononis renP.ns

Ononis 50inosa


PachvlThizus ahina

Pachvrrhizus tuberosus

Phaseolus coccineus

Phaseolus helvola

Psoohocarnus tetraaonolobus

Psoralea a ~ l a

Psoralea californica

Psoralea canescens

Psora lea castorea

Psora lea corvlifolia

Psora lea cusoidata

Psoralea esculenta

Psora lea hvooaaea

Psoralea lanceolata

PsoraJea macroslachVa

Psoralea meohilica

Psora lea ono"brVchis

Psoralea orbicularis

Psoralea nedunculala

Psoralea subacaulis

Psoralea tenuiflora

Pueraria lobata

Soohora sericea

Teohrosia vfrQiniana

Thennoosis lanceolala


Trifolium aloinum

Perennials and climbing perennials cont
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid AIk Light Heavy Sun P.shd WIOd Pol
OThom U
U V.ae U Neut U v.all U ..... U H.d U Lshd U F.shd U Marit U
Trifolium amabile

Trifolium ambiguum

T rifolium a r v ~ n s e

Trifolium fimbrialum

Trifolium fraQiferum

Trifolium hybridum


Trifolium lupinaster

Trifolium macrocephalum

Trifolium montanum

Trifolium ornithopodioides


. .
Trifolium pratense

Trifolium repens


Vicia americana

Vida amoena

Vida amurensis

Vicia cracca

Vida. gigantea

Vicia heptaju

Vicia hirticalvcina

Vicia "aponica

Vida monantha

Vicia nipponica

Vida pisiformis

Vicia pseudo-oro bus

Vicia sepium

Vida sylvatica

Vicia tenuifolia

Vicia tridentata

Vicia uni'u a

Vida venosa

Vicia villosa

Annuals & biennials
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid All. light Heavy Sun P.shd Wrd Pol
UThom U Dry U Wet
U V.ac U Neu! U v.all U Me<:! U H.d U L.shd U F .shd U Marit U
ASlraqalus boelicus

Astra alus hamosus

AstraQalus sinicus

Glycine max

Lathyrus aphaca

Lathvrus cicera

Lathyrus ochrus

Lathvrus odoratus

Lathyrus sativus

Annuals & biennials cont
Ever Sod<8f Moist Walef Acid AIk light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Pol
UThom U
U w. U V.ac U Neut U v.alk U Me(! U H.d U Lshd U F.shd U Marit U
Lens culinaris

Lesoedeza stlDulacea


Lesoedeza striata

Lotus edulis

Lotus hirsutus

Lotus tetranonolubus

Luoinus albus

Lunlnus anaustifolius

Lu rnus hirsutus

Luntnus luleus

inus mutabilis

LUDinus termis

Lu inus varius

Medicaao arabica

Medicaqo laciniata

Medicaao li ttoral is

Medicano iunulina

Medicaao orbicularis

Medicaao oolvmoroha

Medicaao scutella

Melilotus alba

Meljlotus eleqans

Melilotus indica

Melilotus officinalis


Melilotus suaveolens

Meljlotus wolniea


Omithoous com ressus

Ornithonus micranthus

OrnithoDUS oerousillus

OrnithODUS sativus

Phaseolus vUlOaris

Pisum sativum

Pisum sativum arvense

Scoroiurus muricatus

Scamiurus vermiculatus

Trifolium alexandrinum

Trifolium bifidum

Trifolium ciliatum

Trifolium cvathiferum

Trifolium dichotomum

Trifolium dubium

Trifolium fucatum

Trifolium fucatum lIirescens


Trifolium incarnatum

Trifolium microceohalum

Annuals & biennials cont
Trifolium obtusifolium
Trifolium pannonicum
Trifolium parviflorum
Trifolium reslIpinatum
Trifolium subterraneum
Trifolium tridentatum
Trifolium varieaatum
Trigonelia caerulea
T riqonella corniculata
T rigonelia foenum-graecum
TriQonelia suavissima
Vicia articulata
Vieia benghalensis
Vida ervilia
Vida faba eQuinalminor
Vida hirsuta
Vicia narbonensis
Vieia noeana
Vida annonica
Vicia saliva
Vieia tetras erma
Vigna unQuiculata & 55
Lobaria pulmonaria
Lobaria scrobiculata
PeltiQera aphthosa
Peltigera canina
Stereocaulon alpinum
Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid Alk Light Heavy Sun P.shd Wind Poll
Jj Thom U D D Wei U V.ac U Neut U v.a1k U



Ever Sucker Moist Water Acid A1k
U U U U U U Thom D
V.ac No", v.alk


U L.shd.u F.shd U Man!

Sun P.shd Wind
D D D L.shd F.shd Man!

Allen, 0 N & Allen E K: The Leguminosae, A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation.
Macmillan, 1981.
Crawford, M: Nitrogen-fixing Plants for Temperate Climates. A.R.T., 1998.
Gordon, JC & Wheeer, C T (Eds): Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Forest Ecosystems. Nijhoff, 1983.
Schwintzer, C R & ljepkema, J D (Eds):The Biology of Frankia and Actinorhizal Plants. Academic Press,
Birch wood, sap and bark uses
The birch genus (Betula) includes about 50 species of trees and shrubs. Although there is
variability between species, it is clear that all species, especially the trees, can be used
similarly in terms of sap products, bark products and wood products. In this arti cle particular
species are only referenced when a specific use is only known for that specie.
Birch trees are fast growing, often with peeling bark, and can reach a diameter at breast height
(DBH) of 20 em (the minimum required for tapping) in 20-30 years. They usually mature in 60-
70 years and rarely live more than 100 years.
Birches are shade intolerant, and in mature forests are usually restricted to opening and edges.
Birch bark is thin and flammable (due to the presence of oils), and trees are susceptible to fire.
Fire damaged trees often regenerate by developing new sprouts around the base of the original
Cultural/historical uses
To the Celts, birch trees signified a new awakening with the return of spring and fertility, whilst
in Norse mythology, the birch is dedicated to Thor, god of thunder.
In Britain a besom wedding was considered legal. A besom, or broom, made of birch twigs was
placed in the doorway of a house with the head of the broom on the door stone and the handle
resting on the doorpost. The man would jump over the broom into the house, followed by the
woman. By jumping they would be married. The marriage could be broken by jumping
backwards over the broom within the fi rst year.
On May 1$1 , May day or Beltane, fires were kindled with birch twigs. May day was a ferti li ty
festival for people, crops and animals. Fertility dances to ensure health and abundant crops
were performed around the ,maypole of birch, often a living tree. In parts of Britain, May day
trees were decorated and propped against stable doors to ward away evil spiri ts. On
midsummer's' eve birch boughs were hung over doors for good luck.
The use of birch for punitive purposes is another ancient practice.
Sap uses
Birch trees have been tapped since ancient times as a source of sweetness. Birch sap is less
sweet than maple sap and is produced about a month later.
Birch sap tonic
People throughout the world have long used birch sap, also known as ubirch juice

Birch sap is a traditional and refreshing spring tonic, and has been consumed for centuries in
the Nordic countries, central Europe, Canada, Japan and Korea. It is sold commercially in
some of these countries and its uses are varied. Birch sap has a hi nt of sweetness, sometimes
with a slight minty, wintergreen flavour. In some countries it is pasteurized, bottled and sold as
a health drink.
Finland is one of the largest
producers of birch sap, with some
97% of production exported to
Japan, Korea and Central Europe. It
is sold raw, not heaHreated, with no
additives or preservatives, in half
litre bottles. Unopened, it will stay
fresh for two and a half years. Once
'opened it will keep for 3-5 days in a
Although many believe that
consuming birch sap has health
benefits, these benefits are
anecdotal and have not been
confirmed by research. Birch sap is
believed to have positive effects on
the body, aiding in weight control ,
general wellbeing and digestion.
Considering that is contains sugars,
vitamin C and many minerals, some
health benefits would not be
Birch sap can also cause mild
allergic reactions (apparently most
common in people also allergic to
Birch sap wine, beer,
There is a long tradition, both on a
home scale and commercially (small
scale), of making birch sap wine.
Wine can be made from raw sap,
though the sugar content is fairly low
and producing a good wine without
using additional sugar is difficult.
Wine can also be made from
concentrated sap. It does not need
to be concentrated to the level of
birch syrup (see below) but coul d be
concentrated to 5% or 10% sugar
Sap flow physiology
Sap flow is the process of transporting (mainly)
water through a tree. Water is drawn up from the
soil through roots and transported through the stem
to the leaves. Once in the leaves, the water
evaporates into the atmosphere through the
stomata (transpiration).
Water can either be pushed up from the bottom by
osmotic pressure at the roots (normally only in
spring before leaf development) or is pulled up by
transpiration. During transpiration sap flow,
enzymatic changes occur in the sap that make il
unsuitable for human consumption. Therefore
tapping only takes place when the sap is flowing
because of root pressure.
Birch is tapped when the buds are beginning to
expand. The sap is primarity (over 99%) produced
from the flow in the sapwood xylem tissue (ie from
beneath the layers of outer and inner bark).
Sap flow in birches can slart at anytime, day or
night, when soil and wood average day-night
temperatures are above zero in spring. This differs
from maples, where sap flow is better in a freeze-
thaw cycle with a large temperature fluctuation.
The collection period is 3 to 5 weeks, with sap
starting to flow between mid March and mid April,
depending on location and weather conditions.
Trees at lower elevations or on slopes with a
southerl y aspect will usually begin the sap flow
Tapping continues until the sap become buddy, or
milky-white, as microorganisms begin reducing the
sugars. The sap may also have a fermented smell
or bitter taste due to yeasts in the sap. Buddy sap
is unacceptable to syrup production as it has poorer
taste and quality.
Birch beer is made from the sap of Betula lenta (cherry birch, sweet birch, black birch) in the
Eastern USA.
Birch vodka is made in Byelorussia using birch sap and high quality grain alcohol.
Page 34
Cosmetics etc
Numerous cosmetics contain or are based on birch sap in several parts of the world. These
include massage scrub lotions, facial creams, healing creams, after shave and hair conditioner.
Birch syrup
Birch syrup is more challenging to make than maple syrup, primarily because making maple
syrup entails concentrating the sap by a factor of 40, while birch syrup requires concentration
by a factor of 80 to 120. There is also less volume of sap flow than from maple trees.
Birch syrup colour ranges from amber to dark reddish-brown. The colour partially depends on
the time of harvest and exposure to heat during processing; lighter syrups are usually obtained
in the beginning of the season and are more subtle in flavour. Early season syrups are often
used on pancakes, waffles of crepes and are generally of higher value. Darker syrups are more
full-bodied with a stronger flavour. They are often used with both savoury and sweet foods.
The carbohydrates in birch sap are different from those in sugar maple sap. Carbohydrates in
sugar maple sap are primarily sucrose, whilst in birch sap fructose is the main sugar, though
there is a mix of others:
Type of carbohydrate I Approx % of total Concentration range Concentration
SUQar (orams I l i t r ~ 1 throuah season
Fructose 49 0.7 2.2 Increases
Glucose 33 0.8 2.3 Constant
Sucrose 18 0.0 - 0.9 Decreases
Galactose <1 0.01 - 0.02 Constant
(this is typical composition values for sap from the Yukon birch (Betula neoalaskana))
In terms of minerals, significant amounts of calcium , magnesium and potassium are present,
along with smaller quantities of zinc, magnesium, iron and sodium. Mineral contents increase
as the sap season progresses.
An understanding of how the carbohydrate content of birch sap varies through the sap flow is
critical when producing syrup because carbohydrates have different melting points. As birch
sap contains primarily glucose and fructose at the end of the season, both of which have lower
melting points than sucrose, this latter sap is much more susceptible to scorching than sap ftom
earlier in the season.
Sap yields are highly variable between individual trees and in different seasons. 25-80 litres of
sap per tree is common. Larger diameter trees and healthy trees have higher sap yields.
Begin tapping when enough sap is available to process quickly. Avoid prolonged sap
storage whi le waiting for sufficient volumes to accumulate. Sap may start flowing
sooner on the southern side of the tree, however the north side is a better position for
the spile and bucket as it is cooler and not so prone to bacterial or yeast
Select vigorous , healthy trees with a minimum dbh of 15-20 cm.
Install only one tap per tree.
The drill bit and spile (a spout) should be sterile before using on the tree. The spile
has three functions: to transfer sap from the tree to a collection container or into
tubing; to hold a collection container or connect to tubing; and to seal around the
tap hole. Spiles are available from maple equipment suppliers in North America.
The tree bark adjacent to the tap hole site should be cleaned.
The taphole depth should be 3 to 5 cm, angled upward at about tOo, at a convenient
height from the ground, and at least 5 - 10 cm to the side and 15 cm above or below
previous tap holes or wounds.
The drill bit should be an appropriate size for the spile, and be sharp; avoid oval holes
by maintaining a steady hand and drilling angle. American spiles are usually 7/ 16
5/ 16". Hand drills with auger bits are fine for small-scale operations.
If the wood in the hole appears dark or decayed, abandon the hole and plug it. Locate
a new taphole at least 5-10 cm from the abandoned hole.
Inspect the new hole - sap flow will probably begin immediately. Tapholes should be
free of wood shavings, dirt and bark fragments - clean with a squirt of water or clean
tool if necessary.
Due to the acidic nature of birch sap, plastic or stainless steel spiles are best.
Drive the spile gently into the tap hole (with
a mallet) deep enough for the spile to hold
securely (with a full sap bucket resting on it
if this is the system used).
Address any apparent infections around the
spile by washing with clean water and
replacing with a sterile spiJe.
Remove spiles gently at the end of the sap-
flow season. Wash tap holes and plug with
corks to reduce likelihood of infection. As
the tree heals, it will gradually force the plug
out of the tree - this takes a few years.
The same tree can be tapped for 4 or 5
years in succession, then, it should be
rested for 8-10 years
Insertion of spile into birch tree
Sap collection
Page 36
The traditional way of collecting the sap, still used by most small-scale operations
today, is to use a bucket or plastic bag. Larger scale operations use plastic tubing
leading downhill directly to the processing building (sugaring hut).
Use food-grade equipment for all items that come into contact with sap: spiles,
buckets, tubing, collection tanks, storage.
The Tap and pail system uses a bucket or bag suspended on the spile.
Ensure that buckets have lids to avoid contamination from rain, insects etc. Buckets
can hang on spiles or sit on the ground, either way with tubing directing the sap
through a suitable close-fitting hole in the side at the top of the bucket.
Collect sap daily, sometimes twice ' daily during high sap flow. Although sap flow
averages 4 litres/day, it can vary from zero to 20 litres/day.
Avoid collecting sap that is off-colour and has an odour.
Clean tubing etc. used to transfer sap daily. Also check spiles frequently in case they
come dislodged or loose for any reason.
Stop collection when the sap turns buddy.
Sap storage
Store sap in food grade containers that are easy to clean.
Process sap as soon as possible. While in the tree, sap is sterile, but it begins to
degrade as soon as it is exposed to microorganisms in the air.
Store sap at temperatures below SoC.
Store out of direct sunlight.
Filter all sap through course, medium and finally a 5 micron filter to remove suspended
Processing birch sap to syrup
The transformation of sap to syrup involves the concentration of soluble solids, primarily sugar,
through the removal of water. This is achieved through evaporation or by reverse osmosis.
It requires 80 to 120 litres of birch sap to produce one litre of birch syrup. With evapo'ration this
takes considerable time (and energy). With all the boiling, the fructose in the sap caramelizes
as it comes in contact with the hot bottoms of the evaporation pans. Some caramelisation is
necessary for flavour, but too much results in an undesirable taste. Caramelisation begins at
about 93C. The longer the sp is cooked once it attains a density of 5Brix. the darker the final
product will be.
For best results on a commercial scale, exposure to heat should be limited and the majority of
the water can be removed by low temperature vacuum evaporation (where sap boils at 40 to
50C) or by reverse osmosis.
Evaporation can be undertaken in any flat-bottomed pan on a woodstove or hotplate. Most
commercial syrup producers use purpose-built evaporators with a virtually continuous sap flow.
Reverse osmosis machines force the raw sap through membranes at high pressure to filter out
the suspended solids, mainly sugar, allowing the pure water to pass through and out of the
system. Sap can be rapidly reduced in this way resulting in a concentrate with 5% sugar
content. This concentrate is further processed by evaporation to produce the finished product.
Total energy use is in the order of a half compared with evaporation only, which compares
favourably with sugar produced from sugar beet:
Product Total energy required in
Birch syru via evaporation 16 MJ per litre
Birch syrup via reverse osmosis + evaporation -8 MJ per litre
Granulated suqar from suqar beet 11.7 MJ Der ka
Granulated su ar from sugar cane 5.1 MJ ef kg
A minimum sugar concentration of 60% is desirable, with 66% considered ideal. Most birch
syrup in North America is sold in 250 ml bollied for between $10 and $30 (Canadian dollars) -
ie 20 to 60 per litre.
Birch syrup food products
Birch syrup is used in many food products, mainly in North America. These include:
Birch syrup jelly
Birch caramel products
Birch lollipops
Birch topping (like a thick sauce) for toast, ice cream etc.
Birch sap ice cream is made commercially in Denmark
Birch syrup blends either with honey or maple syrup
Table syrup - syrup concentrated to around 40% sugar and then stabilised by adding
fructose to a 66% sugar concentration.
Birch orange mustard
Bark uses
Medicinal uses
Research into the medicinal effects of birch bark has been increasing over the last decade,
however uptake of results has been slow from pharmaceutical companies because birch bark
and betulin from it are natural and cannot be patented. Also, betulin is very hard to produce
synthetically because it contains about 1,000 compounds . Products with betulin as their base
are non-toxic.
Betulin can be converted to betulinic acid, which is more biologically active than betulin itself.
Betulinic acid exhibits anti-malarial , anti-inflammatory and anti-HIV activity in addition to having
potential as a cancer treatment. Research has shown than betulin and betulinic acid inhibit the
growth of melanoma cells and can provide therapeutic benefits to the skin. It has also been
shown to help wounds heal laster and to reduce inflammation.
Preliminary tests show that betulinic acid, made from betulinol from the bark 01 Betula
papyrifera, contains a compound that might help fight prostate cancer by discouraging prostate
cancer cells from dividing, and spur those cetls to die.
A factory in the USA started making bulk, processed birch bark pellets that laboratories can
reline into betulin, in April 2006. NaturNorth uses the bark from trees already cut down to make
It appeared betulin's lirst success would be a herpes vi rus medicine. Lab and animal research
showed betulin was incredibly effective at treating herpes. But because it wasn't synthetic,
pharmaceutical companies balked. So possibly the best medicine for herpes remains
unavailable a decade after it was discovered.
Russia has a long folk history of birch bark uses. Recent products available there include an
"antimycotic birch bark insole" for shoes, "health-improving" bed pillows of milled birch bark,
betulin for the food and pharmacological industries, and mosquito repellent made of birch bark
tar. Also in Russia, you can buy betulin-packed tablets as a defence against liver damage.
Alcoholics are encouraged to drop a couple of birch tablets before their vodka binges, with
betulin purportedly blocking the damage alcohol can cause. Birch World, a company in Russia,
markets several products derived from birch bark extract which it describes as having various
tonic and beneficial effects. Weleda in Europe. markets We/eda birch juice with similar claimed
Birch distillate helps in pest and weed control
MTT Agrifood Research Finland is studying the possibilities
of distillate made of birch in controlling agricultural weeds
and pests. Originally birch distillate (or birch tar oil) was a
by product in charcoal production. The first idea of using
the distillate in controlling pests, for example, was found in
national traditions. Farmers who have trouble with elks
have found it useful to moisten wood pellets with birch
distillate and hang them from the branches of trees.
However, it is not possible to claim in public that you can
control elks, moles or any other animals with birch
distillate, because its actual composition is not known.
The amount of birch distillate produced in connection with
charcoal production is not negligible. Processing 20 cubic
meters of birch gives one thousand lit res of distillate. It
does not contain polyaromatic hydrocarbons which cause
cancer or genetic changes. Tests show that birch distillate
has a wide scope of use. It destroys the weeds found with
carrot without any detriment to the carrot. It also repels
pests, such as molluscs, gastropods and snails.
One of the most harmful species introduced to Finland, the
snail Arianta arbustorum, cannot stand birch distillate. The
distillate doest not kill it , but it may retreat into its shell for
several months' time. According to researchers, a good
way to control snails is to build a low fence and treat it with
birch distillate. The same method could be used to control
another introduced land snail species, Arion Jusitanicus,
which is spreading very effectively all over Scandinavia.
One way of using the distillate is to mix it with rapeseed oil
in order to make it stick more effectively to plant leaves,
and to slow down the evaporation of the effective
substance. Mixed with petroleum jelly, the disti llate will
stand weather conditions much beUer. If this mixture is
used to paint snail fences, the snails will stay away the
whole summer.
There are almost no negative effects found in birch
distillate. Living organisms in the soi l are not harmed by it,
but instead, they may benefit in one way or another. The
chemical alternatives of birch distillate are much more
harmful to, for example, water insects and plants, as well
as for fishes. It is also harmless to humans.
However, there is one problem, though this might be called
a matter of taste - or smell or odour, depending on your
viewpoint. If you do not like the smell of tar, you will not
like the smell of birch distillate, either.
Other bark uses
In Russia there are commercial
floor and wall coverings made
of pressed milled birch bark.
Birch tar oil is distilled from the
bark, being a thick, brownish-black
liquid with a pungent, balsamic
odour and an astringent and
counterirritant action. It is very
similar in composition to
wintergreen oil. It is used in
unctions for eczema and other
skin ailments.
Birch tar oil can be used as a
dressing for leather, imparting
durability; 'Russia leather' has
been treated in this way. The oil
can also be used as a
preservative, especially for nets
and ropes, and it also acts as an
insect and gnat-repellent.
Birch bark, containing about 3% of
tannins, is used extensively for
tanning throughout northern
Europe & Asia where birch forests
are abundant.
Wood uses
Xylitol, also called 'wood
sugar' or 'birch sugar' is a
sugar substitute. It is a
naturally occurring sweetener
found in the fibres of many
forest and agricultural
materials including vegetables,
grain, straw, nutshells, corn
cobs and stalks, mushrooms,
and birch and beech trees.
Xylitol first derived from birch
trees in Finland in the 19
century and was popularised in
Europe as a safe sweetener for
diabetics. Today, the majority
of the world's xylitol is
~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ' produced in China using corn.
It is about as sweet
as sucrose but contains about 40% less calories. Many claims have been made that xylitol
reduces tooth decay, and sugar-free chewing gums made with xylitol have received official
endorsement from several national dental associations.
Birch is a versatile hardwood tree. The wood is used for veneer (IKEA uses hundreds of tons of
it), plywood, OSB (Oriented strand board) , pulp, tool handles, broom heads as well as furniture
making cabinets, hardwood furniture and ' rustic' furniture. The wood is also excellent firewood,
and is used for toy making, flooring, shipbuilding, utensils, wheels, boxes, \Woden shoes, charcoal, pipes,
i wooden nails, turnery, clothes pegs (a traditional wood for this) and fencing (if preserved). In the past it has
been used for bobbins, herring-barrel staves and gunpowder.
Silver birch wood is a uniform off while-pale pinky brown colour, and is straight and fine grained, lustrous,
dense (average density at 15% moisture is 670 kg/m
) , hard, quite strong and porous. There is no obvious
difference between the heartwood and softwood, and annual rings are only apparent as faint bands. It
works, glues and stains well. It is not resistant to decay, but takes preservatives well. It has high bending
and crushing strength and has good steam bending properties. Because it is liable to fungal attack, it must
be dried very rapidly.
Native North Americans traditionally use birch for making baskets, mats, canoes, spears and
bows, snowshoes and sleds.
The inner bark of many species has been eaten in times of famine; and in north America was a regular
dietary item of the native Indians. It is removed in the spring, ground up and used as flour to make a
Reishi , or the chaga mushroom, is the fruiting body of the sterile conk trunk rot of birch
(lnonotus ob/iquus), native from Eastern Europe through to Siberia, China and Japan, and
throughout these regions it has been long used medicinally, notably as a remedy for various
cancers and other ailments. Chaga tea is the traditional way to prepare the mushroom, which is
known as the ' mushroom of immortality' .
Dixon-Warren, H: The Birch Syrup production Manual. QDEDC, 2007.
Hannes Mantyranta: Birch distillate helps in controlling agricultural weeds and pests. foresUi,
10 January 2007
WebMD: Birch bark: Prostate cancer treatment? USA, 26 Jul y 2006
h tlp:/ Iwww.leaderevaporator.com/i ndex. p hp
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Agroforestry News
Shingles and shakes
Volume 16 Number 2
February 2008
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 16 Number 2 February 2008
2 News: Bamboo-based particleboard / Bamboo leaf
Extract / Bamboo plastic / Bamboo paper / Bamboo
bridge / Medicinal mushroom / Pine medici,nal uses /
Feverfew modern uses / Sea buckthorn in Canada /
Bamboo propagation / Tapping bigleaf maple / Codling
moth control/Goats in the forest
8 Wooden shingles and shakes for roofing
20 Book reviews: Ultimate Fruit & Nuts / Fruit and Nut
21 Sea Buckthorn - the new 'superfruit'
24 Attracting beneficial insects
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT. U.K. Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
Page 1
Bamboo chip-based particleboard developed
Pressed particleboard created from a blend of plastic chips and bamboo has been invented by
the Kagawa Prefecture Sangyo Gijutsu Industrial Technology Centre in Japan. Suitable for
application in construction, a particleboard that is made of 70% bamboo chip material according
to weigllt has the same strength attributes as typical wood-based products. The release date of
the product has stili not been announced and study is in progress to find out if the chips' size
and shape has any reaction on strength.
Source: Friday Offcuts, 21 /9/07, Malaysian Timber Industry Board.
Bamboo leaf extract reduces stop acrylamide formation?
Using an antioxidant-rich bamboo leaf extract could reduce the formation of acrylamide in
potato chips and French fries by about 75 per cent , according to a new study.
"This study could be regarded as a pioneer contribution on the reduction of acrylamide in
various foods by natural antioxidants," wrote lead author Yu Zhang in the Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry.
Acrylamide is a carcinogen that is created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, fried or
toasted. Since its Swedish discovery in 2002, a global effort has been underway to amass data
about this chemical. More than 200 research projects have been initiated around the world and
their findings co-ordinated by national governments, the EU and the United Nations.
The researchers , from Zhejiang University' s Department of Food Science and Nutrition, report
that by immersing the potato crisps and French fries in bamboo leaf extract so that the extract
penetrated into the potato matrix prior to the frying process, could reduce the formation of this
cancer-causing compound.
The extract, with the main components characterised as flavonoids, lactones and phenolic
acids, is listed as a food ingredient in China, and permitted as an additive in a range of food
products, including fish and meat products, edible oils, and puffed food.
Source: FoodProductionDaily-USA. 4 January 2007
For full story, see: http://www.foodproductiondaily-usa.com/news/ ng.asp?id 73069
Bamboo plastic
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. announced that it is has developed, with the Aichi Industrial Technology
Institute, a new material to be used in the interior of its future vehicles. The material, which
uses a plant-based resin and bamboo fibre, is called "Green Plastic". Because of these
components, the material produces less CO
emissions and "volatile organic compounds" or
Mitsubishi also points out that bamboo, which grows much faster than timber, will lessen
chances for depleting raw resources when mass-producing Green Plastic.
Source: Autoblog, 28 February 2006
For full story, please see: http://audio.autoblog.com/2006/ 02/28/mitsubishis-plastic-goes-greenl
Bamboo paper
A centuries-old tradition of making delicate rice paper for use in imperial courts is seeking state
support amid climbing costs and declining production. "Unless the situation is remedied, our
descendants will only be able to recall the past glory in museums," said Zhou Jiehua, head of
the Cultural Heritage Bureau in Jiajiang County, southwest China's Sichuan Province. The
"glory" he refers to is a 1 ODO-year-old tradition of making handmade paper native to his county.
Bamboo is used as the raw material to make fine grain paper that was once used during
imperial examinations and is now used by 60 percent of China's painters and calligraphers.
Zhou said that the traditional technique involves a 72-step process. "Only five of the 1 000
paper mills in the county are still strictly following these manual procedures - all the others
have simplified the production process to cut costs and time." Today, the industry employs
some 7 500 people in Jiajiang County, about 60 percent of the local population, but a sharp
decline compared with the 40 000 workers employed in the 1930s, said Zhou. The county has
applied to include the technology in China's first group of intangible cultural heritage.
Source: People' s Daily Online [China], 6 June 2007
China builds world's first bamboo road bridge
An eight-ton truck passed over a bamboo bridge in south China in December 2007, marking the
completion of the world's first bamboo road bridge, claimed the designers.
The bridge, 3.4 meters wide and nine meters long, looks like a concrete bridge from the top and
side, but its nine bamboo girders can be seen from beneath and it is covered by bamboo
boards. It allows a maximum load of 90 tons with a service life of 20 to 30 years.
Fibreglass-reinforced plastics were also used in construction to ensure safety, said Xiao Van,
dean of the college of civil engineering of Hunan University, where the bridge was designed.
Villagers in Daozi town, Leiyang city, Hunan Province, were amazed by the bamboo bridge that
workers took less than 10 days to assemble. Parts of the bridge were made in a workshop
before being transported to the town, said Dr. Shan Bo, a member of the design group.
Xiao Van said bamboo could cut the cost of footbridges in cities and bridges in the countryside
by half.
Source: China Daily, China, 13 December 2007
Wild mushroom can fight prostate cancer
Israeli scientists at the University of Haifa claim that a wild mushroom, used in traditional
Chinese medicine for a century, could treat prostate cancer,
Researchers at the university in northern Israel said they found molecules in the Ganoderma
lucidum mushroom, commonly known as the reishi, which help suppress some mechanisms
involved in the progression of prostate cancer.
"We already knew the mushroom could impede the development of cancer by affecting the
immune system. The in-vitro trials we have done show that it attacks the cancer cells directly,"
chief researcher Ben Zion Zaidman told AFP. "These results give rise to hope about developing
medication to treat prostate cancer," he said of research carried out to date only in Petri dishes.
The reishi is usually found only in remote, wild areas, preferri ng a habitat of rotting plum tree
trunks, sometimes oak trees, in heavily forested areas. The Chinese have tried to
grow reishi mushrooms for centuries, but it was only In the early 1970s that Japanese experts
managed to cultivate them.
Source: AFP, 15 December 2007
Pines: medicinal uses multiply
A scientist has backed a small Melbourne-based biotech company which has produced
a treatment for stomach ulcers using pine needles.
The scientist _ Professor Anatoly Zhebrun, who is director of the Pasteur Institute in S1
Petersburg _ recently supervised trials on the use of a product known as Conifer Green Needle
Complex. CGNC can be used in the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers caused by the
Helicobacter pylori bacterium.
CGNC is made by Solagran and is produced from the green needles of two conifer species,
Scotch pine and Norwegian spruce.
Two Australian scientists - Barry Marshall and Robin Warren - were awarded the Nobel Prize
for Science in 2005 after proving that stomach ulcers were caused by H. pylori, not stress. Dr
Marshall infected himself by swallowing H. pylori to make their point.
Professor Zhebrun, who is in Melbourne to discuss the trial results, said there was "no doubt
CGNC was an exciting product with great capability and a great future". The professor, a world
authority on infectious diseases and responsible for Russia's disease control regime, describes
the bacterium H. pylori as one of the most important infectious disease challenges confronting
health authorities. Professor Zhebrun said he believed CGNC could do what a combination of
synthetic antibiotics had failed to do - actively prevent H. pylori spreading.
CGNC has a relatively long history of therapeutic use in the former USSR, and more recently in
Russia and Latvia. It was developed in the late 1930s in Russia and used in World War II as a
treatment by soldiers for burns, wounds and frostbite. It was also used as an ingredient in
medicated tampons and cosmetics and products such as toothpastes, soaps and shaving
Solagran has also been granted Russian approval to register a version of CGNC for the
treatment for chronic liver disease. The stomach ulcer remedy is in the early stages of the
approval process.
Separate research has shown that extracts from French maritime pine bark may inhibit an
enzyme linked to glucose absorption 190 times more than a synthetic medication, offering
significant benefits for diabetics if the results can be translated from the lab to humans.
The results of the new study, published on-line in the Elsevier journal Diabetes Research anG
Clinical Practice, add to a growing body of research reporting anti-diabetic effects of the pine
bark extract, Pycnogenol.
"Diabetes mellitus type II is a serious disease with rising prevalence," said lead researcher Dr.
Petra Hogger. "This study is crucial for those suffering with the disease because it affirms that
Pycnogenol is more effective than prescription medication and supports the abundance of other
research done on Pycnogenol and diabetes."
A recent Italian-German study published in the July journal of Cfinical and Applied
ThrombosislHaemostasis shows that Pycnogenol also heals leg ulcers in patients who suffer
from diabetic leg ulcerations.
A study published in the June 2006 issue of Angiology shows that supplementation with
Pycnogenol improves blood flow to the muscles, which speeds recovery after physical exercise.
The study of 113 participants demonstrated that Pycnogenol significantly reduces muscular pain
and cramps in athletes and healthy normal individuals. Researchers at L'Aquila University in
Italy and at the University of WOrzburg in Germany studied the effects of Pycnogenol on venous
disorders and cramping in two separate studies.
The product is extracted from the bark of the Maritime pine that grows on the southern coast of
France, and is currently used in over 400 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health
Sources: Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 'Oligomeric procyanidins of French maritime
pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) effectively inhibit alpha-glucosidase". Authors: A. Schafer, P.
Sources: The Age, Australia, 26 August 2007.
For full story, see:
Ancient medicinal plant yields modern leukemia drug
A compound derived from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common medicinal plant that
has been used for centuries to reduce fever, will soon be tested on humans for its ability to
attack the roots of the blood cancer leukemia. Under development is dimethylamino-
parthenolide, DMAPT, which is derived from the daisy-like plant.
New research by University of Rochester investigators published in a recent issue of the journal
"Blood' shows that the water-soluble DMAPT selectively targets leukemia at the stem-cell level,
where the malignancy is born. Standard chemotherapy does not strike deep enough to kill
cancer at the roots , resulting in relapses.
Source: Environment News Service, 2 October 2007
Sea buckthorn in Saskatchewan Canada
Sea buckthorn bushes, which some Saskatchewan producers have been using as shelterbelt
plants for years, also yield bark, leaves and fruit that are packed full of things that are good for
us: omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 are found in the seeds, and the fruit is rich in vitamins A, C, E,
K, B1 , B2 and Niacinamide. Medicinally, it has uses as a soothing oil for cuts or burns, and it is
one of the fruits that has a perfect one-to-one ratio between omega-3 and omega-6. Of all the
fruits, it has the highest content of Vitamin E. It is very high in Vitamin C.
Betty Forbes, President and CEO of Northern Vigor Berries, grows and markets sea buckthorn
bushes and their products. Forbes' father and brother have a 15-acre sea buckthorn orchard,
which she estimates is probably the largest in Canada at present.
On top of the health benefits, sea buckthorn actually makes a pretty tasty pie, juice, or even a
liqueur. As far as markets go, Forbes says Canada is now in the process of learning where sea
buckthorn is needed, at home and around the world. Currently, foreign markets like Japan,
Russia and China are the strongest, but she believes interest is growing in Canada and the
United States.
According to Forbes, Saskatchewan has a distinct advantage when it comes to growing sea
buckthorn bushes. The plant is very winter- and drought-tolerant, and it grows well in high pH
soil. It even tolerates saline soil.
Source: Discover Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, 12 October 2007

New technology for mass multiplication of bamboo
The developed world is taking an increased interest in bamboo as new uses emerge. Bamboo
shows promise as a fuel: it produces an excellent charcoal that can be made in a greenhouse-
friendly way with controlled C0
emissions. Among other uses, charcoal and spent charcoal are
superb soil amendments. Mass propagation of bamboo has been difficult: seeds are often rare
and of low viability. A simple propagation technique developed in India can be easily followed
by farmers and growers
The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has come out with effective technology for rooting of
bamboo with a high success rate without the need for costly and advanced infrastructure like
mist chambers, making it the simplest technology available to multiply bamboo on a commercial
scale. The technique uses the entire culm without rooting hormone treatment and achieving 90
per cent rooting, it is claimed.
A one year old culm is removed from a matured mother culm at 5-10 years growth stage,
without damaging culm and mother culm. The removed culm should be de-limbed carefully by
leaving growing buds in the nodes.
The culm should then be placed horizontally in the raised nursery bed and covered with a loose
soil and sand mixture for half an inch thickness. Some shading may be required. Regular
watering is undertaken and sh'oot emergence is observed after one month from all buds in all
nodes of the entire culm. With continuous watering up to 3 months, root emergence could be
observed in 2-3 months.
After rooting, the rooted culm should be removed entirely from the soil without damage. Each
rooted node with shoots should be separated with a small hand saw and potted up.
Bamboos are versatile plants, which often flower only once in its life cycle (40-60 years) and the
death is popularly known as parthenogenesis. Hence seed availability is poor. At the same
time the seeds are not viable for long.
Source: The Hindu, 25/6/2007 (via Quandong, Vol 33 No 3).
Tapping bigleaf maple
Following the article on tapping birch in Agroforestry News, Vol 16 No 1, a Canadian
agroforestry extension note describes the tapping of bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyl/um) in
British Columbia. The conditions there are more akin to those found in western Europe and
bigleaf maple is happier in British conditions than sugar maple (Acer saccharum).
Sap flows in mild winter climates are not dependent on spring thaws, thus a much longer
tapping season is possible, with tapping beginning in January and continuing through to March.
Peak sugar content is generally early in the tapping season.
On average, a healthy big leaf maple tree will produce 60 litres of sap per season - open grown
trees, of diameter 3545 em, with vigorous growth produce the most sap.
Raw bigleaf maple sap contains 1.75 to 2% sugar, and it takes 50 to 60 litres of sap to make 1
litre of syrup at 66% sugar content. 8igleaf syrup has a rich taste and is demand on the west
coast of Canada, sell ing at 30 - 40 per litre. Maple wine and beer are also being produced
on a limited basis.
Source: Tapping 8igleaf Maple. 8C AIDI Extension Note 01 , 2007.
Codling moth control
As the UK climate warms up, better conditions are provided for the codling moth, with a greater
survival rate over winter. Mating disruption systems, based on codling moth pheromones, have
been used for a whi le and are parti ally effective, but finally organic approval of the virus against
codl ing moths, which other European growers have been using for years, has been given.
The codling moth granulovirus infects larvae of codling moth without harming beneficial insects.
The larvae die quickly, but the application of the virus (by spraying) must take place just before
the larvae hatch, usually in June in the UK. The application can take place in addition to using
a mating disruption system to reduce chances of resistance.
Source: Cercis Cropsafe News, Winter 2007.
Goats in the forest
Allen Edwards forest farms 520 acres in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains near
Colfax, California. He and his family have created what he calls a enterprise" in which
their goat silvopasture is a part.
In 1946 Allen's father purchased a 520-acre farm intending to manage it as a tree farm, and
growing trees for lumber is still a primary enterprise. In 2001 , a wildfire destroyed over 100
acres which was replanted with Ponderosa pine, but there was also vigorous regrowth of brush
and trees which proved good browse for sheep and goats. The goats produce additional
income and also reduce the risk of future fire; the annual goat browse also keeps the deer
range i n good condition.
In economic terms, sawlog production may net $150 per acre per year, while the stacked
enterprise approach may yield up to $500 per acre per year. The main components of the
enterprise include:
Overstory trees -long-term sawlogs.
Intermediate tree thinning - firewood, posts and poles.
Small trees - 'free range' Christmas trees, bundles of greenery from Douglas fir &
western cedar.
Understorey - Goat browsing. Eg. sweet birch has >20% protein resulting in goats
with a high grade meat with freshness and taste, which are sold to local restaurants
along with a variety of garden greens produced in fields near the house.
Source: Inside Agroforestry, Vol 16 Issue 3
Wooden shingles and shakes for roofing
Shingles or shakes?
Shingles are sawn from wood blocks ; they are tapered
and generally have a relatively smooth
split from wood blocks; are less uniform
in thickness than shingles, are sometimes grooved, and
frequently have little taper. Shakes may be split and then
sawn (from top-edge corner to opposite bottom-edge
corner) to provide taper as well as a relatively flat side,
which is turned away from the weather during installation.
Shakes have a rustic appearance. Shingles and shakes
can be used on side walls as well as roofs.
Shakes in America are made in 24-inch lengths - the most
common, 18-inch barn shake, or even 48-inch shakes,
which are typically used for siding. Likewise wooden
shingles are manufactured in differing lengths, 15-inch, 18-
inch - common, and 24" which are known as heavy.
Shake roof in Romania (Source: Wikepedia)
Shakes are a kind of shingle and in this article, the term shingles includes shingles and shakes.
Woods suitable for shingles
The most important wood property for shingles is durability, its resistance to decay (rot). Some
woods, such as western redcedar, have natural durability. The heartwood of old-growth
redcedar is rated as extremely durable because of its extractives. However, the generally small
amount of sapwood associated with this species is not durable.
There is general consensus that some second-growth timber, even from a decay-resistant
species, is not as durable as the old-growth timber. Nevertheless, the durability of any wood
decreases as rain or other sources of moisture leach extractives from the wood.
Today, in North America, the most commonly used wood for shingles is western red cedar.
Eastern White Pine and White Oak are also readily available. Preservative-treated southern
yellow pine taper-sawn shingles are also used. In Britain, cedar, oak and chestnut are mainly
used, though compared with North American they are still rare.
A list of all the woods which have been used for shingles in different parts of the world is below:
Castanea sativa - Sweet chestnut
Juniperus excelsa - Greek juniper
Juniperus foetidissima
Juniperus oxycedrus - Prickly juniper
Larix decidua - Larch
Picea abies - Norway spruce
Page 8
Quercus petraea - Sessile oak
Quercus robur - English oak
Quercus rosacea
N. America & Mexico
Calocedrus decurrens - incense cedar
Castanea dentata - American chestnut
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Lawson cypress
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis - Alaskan yellow cedar
Chamaecyparis thyoides - white cedar. southern white cedar
Gleditsia triacanthos - Honey locust
Juniperus deppeana - Alligator juniper
Juniperus monosperma - Cherrystone juniper
Juniperus occidentalis - Western juniper
Juniperus osteosperma - Utah juniper
Juniperus scopulorum - Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus virginiana - Pencil cedar
Liriodendron tulipifera - Tulip tree
Pinus lambertiana - Sugar pine
Pinus strobus - Eastern white pine, American yellow pine
Quercus alba - White oak
Quercus imbricaria - Shingle oak
Quercus palustris - pin oak
Quercus rubra - Red oak
Sequoia sempervirens - Coast redwood
Sequoiadendron giganteum - Giant sequoia
Taxodium ascendens - Pond cypress
Taxodium distichum - Swamp cypress
Thuja occidentalis - White cedar
Thuja plicata - Western red cedar
Asia minor
Juniperus drupacea - Syrian juniper
Picea orientalis - Caucasian spruce
Abies veitchii - Veitch' s silver fir
Abies veitchii var. Sikokiana
Juniperus rigida - Temple juniper
Picea jezoensis - Hono spruce
Pinus parviflora - Japanese white pine
China & Himalayas
Juniperus chinensis - Chinese juniper
Juniperus recurva - Drooping juniper
Liriodendron chinense - Chinese tulip tree
Metasequioa glyptostroboides - Dawn redwood
Tsuga chinensis - Chinese hemlock
Australia, Tasmania & New Zealand
Allocasuarina verticillata - Shingle oak
Athrotaxis cupressoides - Pencil pine
Athrotaxis laxifolia - Summit cedar
Athrotaxis selaginoides - King William pine
Eucalyptus amygdalina - Black peppermint
Eucalyptus delegatensis - Alpine ash
Eucalyptus macarthuri - Camden woolybutt
Eucalyptus obliqua - Stringy bark
Eucalyptus viminalis - Mann agum
Ubocedrus bidwillii - Pahautea
South America
Gevuina avellana - Chilean hazel
Manl;Jfacture of shakes and shingles
Shake blocks are split into 1 inch thick slats called blanks, using either a hydraulic press with a
blade attached, called a cuber, or split by hand using a froe and mallet. These blanks are
uniform in thickness throughout if split from the same edge without flipping the block.
Alternatively, the splitter may flip the block after a blank is taken off each edge, which results in
a tapered split from end to end, called tapers or hand-split. The blanks which are not tapered
require further processing before application to create this taper, and are run through a large
band saw, pushed by hand to cut them from corner to corner forming a tapered shake, sawn on
one face.
Shingles are cut from the blocks using a circular saw, typically 42-48" in diameter. The blocks
are clamped in a carriage which slides back and forth across the blade, tilting and moving the
block closer to the blade with each pass to automatically form a tapered cut of the correct
thickness. The edges of the shingle are then cut with another circular saw called a "t rim saw",
to remove irregular edges. The result is a tapered shingle sawn on all six sides. The thickness
of the butt, or thicker end of the tapered cut, is usually 3/8" thick, but is also commonly made to
be 5/8", and can be made to any custom specifications.
History of shingles in Europe
The is a long history of using shingles in Europe. They were used in ancient Rome, and all over
southern and central Europe, u.sually using chestnut.
In Britain, thatched roofs of straw, rushes and reed were the most popular before about 1200,
although some shingles were certainly used in Viking and Saxon times. In 1213, these
materials were forbidden in London due to fire risk, in favour of tiles and shingles.
There is along history of shingle covered spires on churches, probably dating from Viking times.
Many remain, usually using oak or chestnut shingles.
In Scandinavia wooden shingle roofs used to be the most common roofing material and in use
up to the 1950s in the countryside.
Photos overleaf:
Top left: Brookland Church Spire, Romney Marsh
Top right: South Nutf ield Church spire, repai rs 2006
Below: South Nutfield Church spire close up
History of shingles in America
Because trees were plentiful from the earliest settlement days, the use of wood for all aspects
of construction is not surprising. Wooden shingles were lightweight, made with simple tools,
and easily installed. Wooden shingle roofs were prevalent in the Colonies, while in Europe at
the same time, thatch, slate and We were the prevalent roofing materials.
Distinctive roofing patterns exist in various regions of the country that were settled by the
English, Dutch, Germans, and Scandinavians. These patterns and features include the size,
shape anp exposure length of shingles, special treatments such as swept valleys, combed
ridges , anct decorative butt end or long side-lapped bevelled hand splil shingles.
Shingle Fabrication. Historically wooden shingles were usually thin (3/8" to 314" ), relatively
narrow (3" to 8
) , of varying length (14" to 36") , and almost always smooth. The traditional
method for making wooden shingles in the 17th and 18th centuries was to hand split them from
log sections known as bolts. These bolts were quartered or split into wedges. A mallet and froe
(or axe) were used to split or rive out thin planks of wood along the grain. If a tapered shingle
was desired, the bolt was flipped after each successive strike with the froe and mallet.
The wood species varied according to available local woods, but only the heartwood, or inner
section, of the log was usually used. The softer sapwood generally was not used because it
deteriorated quickly. The most popular woods used were White oak, Cypress, Alaskan yellow
cedar, shingle oak, American chestnut , Eastern white pine, Redwood and Western red cedar.
Because hand split shingles were somewhat irregular along the split surface, it was necessary
to dress or plane the shingles on a shaving horse with a draw-knife or draw-shave to make them
fit evenly on the roof. This reworking was necessary to provide a tight-fitting roof over typically
open shingle lath or sheathing boards. Dressing, or smoothing of shingles, was almost
universal , no matter what wood was used or in what part of the country the building was
located, except in those cases where a temporary or very utilitarian roof was needed.
Shingle fabrication was revolutionized in the early 19th century by steam-powered saw mills.
Shingle mills made possible the production of uniform shingles in mass quantities. The sawn
shingle of uniform taper and smooth surface eliminated the need to hand dress. The supply of
wooden shingles was therefore no longer limited by local factors. These changes coincided
with (and in turn increased) the popularity of architectural styles such as Carpenter Gothic and
Queen Anne that used shingles to great effect.
Modern commercially available shakes are generally thicker than the historic hand split
counterpart and are usually left "undressed" with a rough, corrugated surface. The rough
surface shake, furthermore, is often promoted as suitable for historic preservation projects
because of its rustic appearance. It is an erroneous assumption that the more irregular the
shingle, the more authentic or "historic" it will appear.
Historic Detailing and Install ation Techniques. While the size, shape and finish of the
shingle determine the roof's texture and scale, the installation patterns and detai ls give the roof
its unique character. Many details reflect the craft practices of the builders and the architectural
style prevalent at the time of construction. Other details had specific purposes for reducing
moisture penetration to the structure. In addition to the most visible aspects of a shingle roof ,
the details at the rake boards, eaves, ridges, hips, dormers, cupolas, gables, and chimneys
were all important.
The way the shingles were laid was often based on functional and practical needs. Because a
roof is the most vulnerable element of a building, many of the roofing details that have become
distinctive features were first developed simply to keep water out. Roof combs on the windward
side of a roof protect the ridge line. Wedges, or cant strips, at dormer cheeks roll the water
away from the vertical wall. Swept valley's and fanned hips keep the grain of the wood in the
shingle parallel to the angle of the building joint to aid water runoff. The slight projection of the
shingles at the eaves directs the water runoff either into a gutter or off the roof away from the
exterior wall. These details varied from region to region and from style to style. They can be
duplicated even with the added protection of modern flashing.
In order to have a weather tight roof , it was important to have adequate coverage, proper
spacing of shingles, and straight grain shi ngles. Many roofs were laid on open shingle lath or
open sheathing boards. Roofers typically laid three layers of shingles with approximately 1/3 of
each shingle exposed to the weather. Spaces between shingles (1/8" to 1/2" depending on
wood type) allowed the shingles to expand when wet. It was important to stagger each
overlapping shingle by a minimum of 1 1/2" to avoid a direct path for moisture to penetrate a
joint. Doubling or tripling the starter course at the eave gave added protecti on to this exposed
In order for the roof to lay as flat as possible, the thickness, taper and surface of the shingles
was relatively uniform; any unevenness on hand split shingles had already been smoothed
away with a draw-knife. To keep shi ngles from curling or cupping, the shingle width was
generally limited to less than 10".
Not all shingles were laid in evenly spaced, overlapping, horizontal rows. In various regions of
the country, there were distinct installation patterns; for example, the biaxiall y-tapered long
shingles occasionall y found in areas settled by the Germans. These lot;lg shingles were
overlapped on the side as well as on top. This formed a ventilation channel under the shi ngles
that aided drying. Because ventilation of the
attention to these details.
Eighteenth-century coati ngs sometimes appl ied
included a pine pitch coating not unlike
turpentine, and boiled linseed oil or fish oil mixed
with oxides, red lead, brick dust , or other
minerals to produce colours such as yellow,
Venetian red, Spanish brown, and slate grey. In
the 19th century, in addition to the earlier
colours, shingles were stai ned or pai nted to
complement the bui lding colours: Indian red,
chocolate brown, or brown-green. During the
Greek Revival and later in the 20th cent ury with
other revival styles, green was also used.
biaxiaUy-tapered long shi ngles overl apped
on the side as well as on top
Page 13
The relevance of shingles and shakes today
Despite leday's advanced technology and building methods, using wood shingles and shakes
for roofing (or cladding) is increasing in popularity. A principle reason is that they are all
recyclable and alJ use renewable materials so their use helps designers achieve sustainable or
'green' architecture.
In addition, buildings constructed of wood benefit from
wood' s superior insulating properties. They are more
efficient h a n concrete or steel, which translates into long-
term energy savings and a reduced load on the
The texture and colour of the wood shingles and shakes
has the ability to create an individual building and enhance
unusual properties. They are also light in weight, have a
low rate of expansion and contraction, and have the added
benefit of being easy to install and maintain.
Wood shingles and shakes can have high natural
durability. Resistance to rot is one of the most important
properties to consider when using wood shingles and
shakes. However, erosion may occur due to weathering,
and therefore it is necessary to maintain them for
effectiveness and longevity. But using good quality wood
shingles and shakes, and installing them correctly, should
result in a roof covering that will last for 20-40 years.
Rounded butt-sawn shingles
Wood roofs are more flammable than composition roofs. Wood roofs may be unsuitable in arid
regions , in high density neighb9rhoods, or where appreciable amounts of flammable vegetation
grow close to the structure. Application of fire retardants may be required by local planning
Preservative treatment
In the past, shingles were always made from a durable timber that did not require any extra
treatment. More recently, however, a combination of using less durable woods, along with
applying building codes which do not recognise the particular conditions which shingle roofs
require, have led to some shingles and shakes being pressure-treated with a preservative to
provide improved durability. This negates many of the environmental benefits of using wood
How shingles are installed influences the moisture condition of the roof. With the inherent water
exposure of roofs, moisture buildup greatly affects service life.
Before and during the 19th century, wood shingles were commonly used for roofs. The shingles
were fastened to widely spaced nailing strips without the use of tarred or asphalted felts as a
secondary barrier. Thus wet shingles dried quickly because of air access underneath. It was
not uncommon for such roofs to last twice as long as shingle roofs laid straight on top of roofing
felt , which building regulations have demanded for some.
When asp halted felt is used as a secondary barrier over laths, with shingles st raight on top, the
shingles typically dry much less quickly. Providing an airspace between the shingles and the
felt vastly improves drying. The airspace can be created by using an extra layer of laths over
the felt. Alternatively, the use of modern breathable membranes will also aid shingle drying.
The roof pitch is an important part of the rain-proofing of a shingle roof. In warm areas will low
rainfall a pitch of 1 in 4 (22) is acceptable, whereas in a wet country like Britain a pitch of 1 in 2
(45) is advisable to shed water that much more quickly.
Avoid skimpy shingle coverage. It has become a common modern practice to lay impregnated
roofing felts under new wooden shingle roofs. The practice is especially prevalent in roofs that
do not achieve a full triple layering of shingles. Historically, approximately one third of each
single was exposed, thus making a three-ply or three-layered roof. This assured adequate
coverage. Due to the expense of wooden shingles today, some roofers expose more of the
shingle if the pitch of the roof allows, and compensate for less than three layers of shingles by
using building felts interwoven at the top of each row of shingles. This absorptive material can
hold moisture on the underside of the shingles and accelerate deterioration. If a shingle roof
has proper coverage and proper flashing, such felts are unnecessary as a general rule.
However, the selective use of such felts or other reinforcements at ridges, hips and valleys does
appear to be beneficial.
Beware of heavily insulated attic rafters. Historically, the longest lasting shingle roofs were
generally the ones with the best roof ventilation. Roofs with shingling set directly on solid
sheathing and where there is insulation packed tightly between the wooden rafters without
adequate ventilation run the risk of condensation-related moisture damage to wooden roofing
components. For that reason, it is best to provide ventilation channels between the rafters and
the roof decking, to avoid heavy felt building papers, to consider the use of v'apour barriers, and
perhaps to raise the shingles slightly by using ~ s l e e p e r s " over the roof deck.
Avoid staples and inferior flashing. The common practice of using pneumatic staple guns to
affix shingles can result in shooting staples through the shingles, in crushing the wood fibres, or
in cracking the shingle. Instead, corrosion resistant nails, generally with barked or deformed
shanks long enough to extend about 3/4" into the roof decking, should be used. If red cedar is
used, copper nails should not be specified because a chemical reaction between the wood and
the copper will reduce the life of the roof. Hot-dipped, zinc-coated, aluminium, or stainless steel
nails should be used. Copper flashing and gutters used with red cedar shingles may lead to as
staining occurring.
Weathering is erosion from sun, wind, debris, and precipitation. Even wood that does not decay
is still subject to weathering. The weathering process removes about 114 inch (6 mm) of
unprotected wood per century for softwoods (e.g., cedar) on vertical exposures, but more wood
is removed from roofs.
Shingles are often left to weather naturally and, depending on exposure and climatic conditions,
the wood will turn silver, dark gray, or dark brown. Proper selection of materials will appreciably
influence the service tife of wood shingles. For roofs, which have the most direct
and extreme exposure to rain and sunlight, use only the top grade of shingles manufactured
with edge-grained heartwood. A lower grade of shingles can be used on sidewalls or areas that
require an undercourse.
The following construction diagrams come from Tino Rawnsley's excellent online guide.
Walls & vertical surfaces
IJOPll(:lftJrAI. eOG-fC; W/ TIl IM
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Shingles rapidly absorb moisture because their lower edges are end grain, where wood is
similar to a bundle of straws. The swelling and shrinking of the wood results in cracks, which
can increase the entry of moisture. Decay when nondurable wood remains wet for
sufficiently long periods.
In warm, humid climates and on heavily shaded roofs, mildew, moss, algae, and lichens can
grow; because these organisms retain moisture, the wood will decay with time.
For increased longevity it is important to limit the amount of debris that falls on it. Organic
matter, such as moss and lichens that develop on the roof, will retain water and dust which will
promote fungi and eventually rot the shingles or shakes.
The best way to prevent the growth of moss and lichens is to use zinc, galvanized or copper
flashings at the top of the roof pitch. The normal corrosion from these metals provides some
control of moss, lichens, mold and mildew, for some 15 ft (5 m) or more down slope from the
metal. Additional strips may be necessary farther down the roof , such strips can be placed
under a course of singles with at least 1 inch (25 mm) exposed.
f?6E- ,,,,!)OUT t 1\.1
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1<; 40.1 To1liJ.
t:epelJt)IIJ6 o L.l
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"--. __ u fC1!' VAI..Lt-Y Ll IP
cu oi; CA. [J!ID4;
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Leaves and other debris that accumulate on roofs, particularly in the valleys and gutters, trap
moisture in shingles, increasing the likelihood of decay. Therefore, clean loose debris from
roofs and gutters routinely. Overhanging tree limbs and vines that provide excessive shade
keep the shingles wet for longer periods, encourage moss growth, and may encourage decay.
Periodically check the roof for moss or lichen growth. If necessary you can apply a solution of 1
quart (1 liter) household bleach, 1 ounce (30 g) detergent, and 3 quarts (3 liters) warm water to
clean the roof. Power washers are not recommended - while they may make the roof look
relatively new, they can put a lot of water under shingles, and the high pressure may crack or
otherwise damage them.
An occasional cracked or damaged shingle can be replaced on its own: the old shingle is
removed and a new shingle can be inserted and held in place with a thin metal tab, or "babbie"
hooked over the shingle beneath. This reduces disturbance to the sound shingles above.
Hips & valleys
lu .. r Wf1J
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Page 18
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Crawford, M: Timber Trees for Temperate Climates. A.R.T.,2000.
The finish line. Forest Products Laboratory, USDA. 1998.
Niemiec, 8.S. and T.D. Brown: Care and Maintenance of Wood Shingle and Shake Roofs.
State ,University Extension Service, September 1988. Publication #EC 1271.
Park, 8: The Repair and Replacement of Historic Shingle Roofs. US National Park Service
Preservation Brief 19.
Rawnsley Woodland Products http://www.comishwoodland.co.uklindex.htm
Book Reviews
Ultimate Fruit & Nuts
Susanna Lyle
Frances Lincoln, 2006; 480 pp; 40.00
ISBN 978-0-7112-2593-0
The first of two chunky, encyclopaedic books on fruit and nut plants reviewed here covers both
temperate and tropical species in an A to ,Z format. For each plant (or often group of plants
under a family name) there is a description and information about harvesting, yields, cultivation,
a cultivar list , related species of interest, and other uses. Photos accompany most of the
It is clear that this book is primarily an academic construct , rather than being written by
someone who knows and/or grows many of the crops described. For the uses section, the
author relies heavily on the Plants for a Future database. For most of the crops described there
are only a small number of cultivars described, despite there being plenty of information easily
accessible about many others. I suspect the author just didn't have the time to research into
each crop i n any detail but has simply reproduced the information from a handful of sources,
which leads to curious gaps. How did she decide to include just four cultivars of apricot when
there are hundreds worldwide and dozens of better known and more widely used than those?
Despite these faults, it is sti ll a useful book, especially if one needs to get a quick overview of a
new fruit or nut crop.
Fruit and Nut Production
Brenda Olcott-Reid & William Reid
Stipes Publishing, 2007; 597 pp; $56.80 (direct from Stipes)
ISBN 978-1-58874-575-0
Less of a coffee-table book, with no colour photos, this is a much more authoritative reference
book on growing temperate zone fruit and nut crops.
Rather than being an A-Z encyclopedia, this is more like an extended extension manual
produced by people who know what they are talking about.
The first 125 pages of the book cover all the basics of fruit and nut production - including site
selection and preparation, planting, training and pruning, ground covers and mulches, nutrition,
irrigation, pests and diseases, pollination, harvesting and marketing.
The remainder of the book is split into sections for small fruit , tree fruit, tree nut, and minor fruit
crops. Within these, individual fruit or nut species are explained thoroughly, right from
rootstocks through to pest and disease management. Black and white photos and drawings
illustrate the text. An extensive cultivar list is given for each crop but - and this is the only
drawback to European readers - it is a list aimed at American growers, and this does not
always coincide with the varieties available and grown this side of the Atlantic. However, that
niggle apart, this is a great book and a bargain at the price.
Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.)
the new 'superfruit'.
Paul Cawsey
In a recent article (FAO 2007) Sea buckthorn has been described as a ' super-fruit' due to its
superb nutritional properties. One of the most important natural resources of China and Russia
it is nati ve to Eurasia. There are thought to be 8 subspecies of Hippophae rhamnoides L but
current taxonomic debate suggests that some should be promoted to the rank of species (Small
et al. undated).
Hippophae rhamnoides is a medium sized thorny deciduous shrub, hardy to USDA zone 3. Its
silvery stems are capable of reaching 3 metres high and make thickets by suckering. The leaves
are narrow, untoothed and silvery when young. The undersides of the leaves are brown. The
flowers are tiny, green and without petals and produced between April and June prior to the
leaves developing. The orange berries produced by the female plants can persist through the
winter and have a fragrance akin to that of a pineapple. Predominantly found in coastal areas it
may be planted inland. In the UK there are worries about the invasiveness of this species and
its domination of sand dune communities, though this dominance may be linked to the reduction
in rabbit numbers through mixymatosis , as rabbits eat the young plants (Small et. at. undated).
Page 21
Virtually the whole plant may be used for consumption, topical applications and a host of other
(a) Food uses.
The pulp from the berries is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene,
flavaQoids, enzymes and palmitoleic acid. Though the berries may be too acidic to eat fresh
they csan be used to make juice, jellies, marmalade and various sauces and can even be frozen
I freeze dried. The leaves contain an average of 15% protein and may be used feed for
livestock and pets (Small et. al. undated). Current research is investigating its use as a
treatment for cancer (PFAF undated).
Constituents of Sea buckthorn fruit (per 100 grams fresh berries)
(Dharmananda undated)
Vitamin C 200 - 1,500 mg
Vitamen E up to 180 mg
Folic Acid up to 80 mcg
Carotenoids 30 -40 mg
Fatty Acids (Oils) 6 - 11%
Organic acids (except ascorbic) Juice has pH of 2.7 to 3.3
Flal.Onoids 100-1,000mg
(b) Medicinal uses.
Sea Buckthorn has been used in Chinese medicine for over 12 centuries (Small et. al. undated)
and oil made from the pulp and seeds is used clinically in China and Russia. Sea buckthorn oil
made from the berries is rich in fatty acids that are essential for skin maintenance and is widely
used in the west in skin care products. Oil from the leaves can be used in ointments for treating
a wide range of skin conditions such as e c ~ e m a , bed sores, radiation damage and burns. The
oil from the leaves is also used internally to treat stomach and intestine disorders. Russian
cosmonauts have used Sea buckt horn cream for protection against cosmic radiation (Todd
(c) Ecological uses.
Sea buckthorn is used widely in land reclamation projects due to its ability to stabilise soil, due
to its extensive root system and is also capable of fixing nitrogen in the soil. It is tolerant of
maritime conditions and may be used as a shelter hedge. Sea buckthorn can be used as a
pioneer species to help in the reestablishment of woodlands, but as it requires high levels of
light it will soon become shaded out by other species (PFAF undated).
(d) Other uses
A yellow dye may be obtained from the leaves, roots, fruits and stems and a blackish dye can
be obtained from young leaves and shoots (PFAF undated). The wood can be used as a source
of firewood as well as for carpentry and wood turning. In Nepal utilization of Sea buckthorn for
Page 22
fuel is helping to relieve the pressure on native woody plants that have been harvested
destructively for fuel.
Sea buckthorn tolerates a wide range of soil types including poor ones as long as they are not
to dry and this plant is ideal for maritime positions with sandy soils. It requires a sunny position
and mature plants are relatively drought resistant. This species has symbiotic relationships with
a number of soil bacteria which fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. Both male and female plants
need to be grown together to ensure that the berries are produced. Male plants produce conical
conspicuous buds in winter whereas the temale produces buds which are smaller and rounded
(PFAF undated). Commercial orchids typically use 1 male for every 7 females (Todd 2006)
Sea buckthorn can be propagated by seed which requires stratification for approximately 90
days at 3 to 5 degrees C. Fresh seed can be sown direct and covered with a thin layer of soil.
Germination can be within 3 to 10 days after stratification has broken dormancy (Todd 2006) .
Sea buckthorn can also be propagated by cuttings from half ripe wood in June and July -
though this can be difficult it is the most successful method of vegetative propagation. Cuttings
of mature wood may be taken in autumn but are difficult to root. These cuttings should be
stored in sand I peat until April and then rooted using bottom heat (PFAF undated). Suckers
may be divided in winter and directly planted out. '
Dharmananda S. (undated) Sea buckthorn. Institute for Traditional Medicine.
FAO (2007) Synergistic superfruit: Sea Buckthorn. Non-Wood News No. t 5 July 2007. FAO.
PFAF (undated) Hippophae rhamnoides L. Sea Buckthorn. Plants for a Future Database.
Accessed September 2007 on http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Hippophae+rhamnoides
Small E. , Catling P.M. , Li T.S.C. (undated) Blossoming treasures of biodiversity. 5: Sea
Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) - an ancient crop with modern virtues. Accessed
September 2007 on www.seabuckthorn.comlfiles/sample-buckthorn.pdf
Todd J. (2006) Introduction to Sea buckthorn. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Ontario, Canada.
Page 23
Attracting beneficial insects
A healthy population of beneficial insects is a vitally important part of any resilient a9ro
ecosystem. Beneficial insect predator and parasite numbers can be boosted by planting
species of plants attractive for part of their their feeding stages. Bees too, especially wild bees,
are extremely important for pollination and their numbers should also be encouraged, especially
as the. gregarious nature of hive bees makes the latter susceptible to disease and parasite
Beneficial insect predators
Important predators of fruit and hop insects, including aphids, mites and insect eggs. Feeding
is usually at night and during the day earwigs hide under loose bark, leaves etc.
Oamsel bugs
A group of agile and ferocious carnivores.
Anthocorid bugs
The adults and nyphs are general predators of small invertebrates including caterpillars, weevil
larvae and pupae, red spider mites and eggs. Adults hibernate overwinter and lay their eggs on
the fruit tree in spring.
Capsid or Mirid bugs
Most are important predators, with both adults and nymphs very active voracious carnivores.
Adults either hibernate over the winter and lay their eggs in the young wood in spring, or lay
eggs in summer-autumn which overwinter to hatch in spring.
Several species are important predators of fruit pests. There are three groups, green, brown
and powdery lacewings - all are useful. Some species overwinter as adults, others as
prepupae. The adults devour their prey, but feed mainly on nectar; the larvae are voracious
predators which suck the contents out of their prey, leaving a 'shell', Prey includes aphids red
spider mites, scale insects and small caterpillars.
Ground and rove beetles are generally dark, shiny black, living under stones and decaying
vegetation. They vary widely in size from 1.5 - 25 mm, and feed mainly at night. Prey includes
slugs, vine weevil , moth pupae and red spider mite,
Ground beetles
Many species of ground beetles are useful predators of soil pests, and also feed on the pupae
of winter moth and other pests which spend part of their life cycle in or on the ground. Adults
may climb plants in search of prey but few species of ground beetle occur regularly on trees or
shrubs, Prey includes slugs, vine weevil, moth pupae and red spider mite.
Rove beetles
These are a large group of active, often predatory beetles which are most abundant in moss
and decaying vegetation, Prey includes slugs, vine weevil, moth pupae and red spider mite,
Page 24
Larvae feed voraciously on aphids, spider mites, small caterpillars, scale insects etc; a single
larva can eat several hundred aphids during its development. Adults usually hibernate over the
winter in suitable locations, ego beneath loose bark.
Midges are common predators and their larvae are often present amongst aphid and mite
Hoverflies (syrphids)
Adults visit fruit blossom and many other flowers, especially Compositae, Rosaceae and
Umbelliferae, in large numbers, feeding on nectar and pollen. Larvae are predators of aphids
and other insects. One larva can eat up to 50 aphids a day (1000 in a lifetime).
Beneficial insect parasites
Parasitic flies (tachinids)
Larvae are internal parasites of other insects, particularly moth caterpillars.
Parasitic wasps
These tiny wasps generally lay their eggs in the eggs of bodies of other insects which then
become the food source for the developing wasp larvae. The adults are rarely noticed except
on a sunny day when they can be found feeding on umbelliferous flowers.
Ichneumon flies
Attack fruit pests, especially moth caterpillars.
Braconid wasps
Important enemies of moth caterpillars.
Chalcid wasps
Small or minute insects (most under 3 mm long), parasitise
many insect pests, particularly aphids, moth larvae and
scale insects.
Social wasps
Social wasps (eg. Vespula germanica & V.vulgaris) are of value as predators of harmful insects,
including aphids and caterpillars; this prey is fed to the wasp larvae which require a diet of
animal protein. Predatory activity is maintained through brood-rearing but then in late summer
and autumn the workers can be a nuisance.
Several mites are predators of other mites, aphids and small insects. Some overwinter on dead
leaves on the ground.
Many species are found on fruit trees and shrubs. Prey includes aphids, codling moth adults
and larvae etc.
Money spiders
These are very small (usually under 2.5 mm long) with shiny black abdomens; they are
abundant , partucularly in the autumn, on fruit crops as predators of spider mites, small aphids
and other small insects. Money spiders like shady, damp sites.
These look very similar to spiders, consiting of a small round body balanced on very long, thin,
delicate legs. They are common on fruit crops as predators of aphids, caterpillars and other
small insects .

Useful perennials for attracting beneficial insects
These include:
the Compositae (attracts hoverflies)
the Umbeliiferae (attracts hoverflies and parasitic wasps.)
Achillea spp (yarrow)
Aaastache SOD. (anise
Alcea rosea hollyhock)
Angelica spp.
Antennaria spp.
Anthemis tinctoria (colden mar uerite
Apios americana
Arctium spp. (burdock)
Artemesia spp.
Aster scc.
Astragalus SPl-. (milk vetch
Baptisia spp.
Bellis Derennis (daisy)
Bora 0 officinalis (bora.oe)
Brachy{,lottis spp.
Brassica spp.
Bunium bulbocastanum (cic nut
Centaurea . knapweed)
Chamaemelum nobile chamomile)
Cichorium intybus (chicory)
Conooodium maus (cia nut
Convolvulus spp.
Coreopsis spp.
Cryptotaenia japonica (mitsuba)
Cytisus SOD broom
Echinacea sp(:.
Eryngium spp.
EUDatorium SOD.
Ferula sp(:.
Foeniculum vulgaris fennel)
Fragaria vesca (wi ld strawberry)
Genista SOD.
Glycyrrhiza soo licorice
Hedysarum spp.
Helianthus spp. (sunflower)
Heracleum spp.
Indi otera soP.
Lathvrus 500. sweet peas
Levisticum officinale (lovage)
Ligus!icum spp.
Luoinus 500.
Malva moschata musk mallow
Medicao sativa (lucerne)
Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
Mentha SOD. (mints)
Monarda spp. bee balm
Myrrhis odorata (sweet cicily)
Olearia spp.
Oriaanum vulaare oreaano)
Osmorhiza spp.
Petasites spp. (butterbur)
Phaseo/us spp. (beans)
Pimoinella saxifraae burnet saxifrage)
Psoralea spp.
Pycnanthemum spp {mountain mint
Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
Salvia SOD. sace
San uisorba sP/J.
Satureja spp.
Scorzonera hisoanica
Silohium SOO.
Solidago spp (goldenrod)
Stachvs soo.
Stel/aria media chickweed
Symphytum spp. (comfrey)
Tanacetum spp. (feverfew, tansy)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion .
Thaspium spp.
Thermopsis spp.
ThLmus soo. thvme)
Trifolium spp. clover)
Urtica dioica (nettl e)
Vicia spp. (vetch)
Wild / bumble bee nectar & pollen plants
Aim to plant to cover the whole season, especiall y late winter/earl y spring.
nec indicates a particularly good nectar source for wild bees.
pol indicates a particularly good pollen source for wild bees.

1M.', I

.. "OO
mollis 1./

,mill ./
b. y, Nose-bleed
Aleea 'osea China 1./

I;;: A.' blanda
ve I
'Ou, A i

ISl1apd'ragon, Loose
spp. Europe 1./
burdock, Burdock,
I-\fllltHli:I maritima 1./
Thrift ,

I , Med 1./
IWinter- cress, Yellow
Rocket, Rocket
Page 28
nee pol Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Berberis vulgari s
./ ./
I .........
Common barberry,
Jaundice berry,
Pipperi dge bush
Ber beri s wilsoni ae
./ ./
Borago offi cinalis
./ ./
.. .. .. ..
C. Europe
Borage, Talewort, Cool
tankard, Tailwort
Brachyglottis greyi
New Zealand
Buddleja spp.
Calendula officinalls
./ ./
Marigold, Pot marigol d,
Call una vulgaris
./ ./
Li ng, Heather.
Caltha palustris
./ I-I"
.. .. .. ..
- 1-1
Marsh mari gol d.
American cowsl ip, King
cup, Meadow- bri ght ,
Campanula carpatica
./ ./
Tussock bellfl ower,
Carpathian harebell ,
Centaurea cyanus
./ ./
Cornfl ower, Bluebottl e,
Bachelor' s button
Centaurea spp.
./ ./
Centaurea montana
MIs Europe
Mountain cornfl ower,
Mountain bluet,
Perennial cornflower
Chaenomeles speclosa
./ ./
Chi na
Japanese quince,
Flowering quince,
Page 29
- -

IShasta daisy
. '0::: Wild succory,
0 Witloo!
Page 30

nee po I Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
./ ./
salicifolius 'gnom'
Cotoneaster simonsii
./ ./
Cucurbita spp.
./ ./
Figleaf gourd,
Chilacayote, Malabar
Cynara carduncuJus
Cardoon, Artichoke
./ ./
officinale Europe
Hound's tongue,
Chinese forget-rne-not ,
Cytisus scoparius
./ ./
Broom, Common broom,
Scotch broom
Dahlia pinnata Mexico
./ ./
Garden dahlia, Common
Di anthus barbatus
Sweet william
Digitalis purpurea
Dipsacus fullonum
S. Europe
- 1- 1
Fuller's teasel , Wild
teasel ,
./ ./
- 1-
plantaglneum Europe
Eccremocarpus seaber
1" 1--
Glory flower
Echlnops ritro
Small globe thistle
Echlum vulgare Europe
./ ./
Viper's bugloss,
Blueweed, Blue devil
Page 31

, ./
' ./

Great willow
, Rosebay willow
herb I
d.I ,
IErica carnea European
heath, Spring
i heather
: Eur.o.!'e
, ./
Sea holm,
Sea eryngo

I S,I U,S,
i poppy

Crown i i
[./ i
. '.u a.
1(, "',,. Konin;


ni. broom, Spanish
Species nec pol Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Genista lydia Balkans
IL-I I .........
Genista tinctoria

Dyer's greenweed,
Glechoma hederacea
./ ./
.. ..
Ground ivy, Aleroot
Hebe pinguifolia
.. ..
' pagei' New Zealand
Hedera helix Europe
./ ./
.. .. ...
English ivy, Ivy,
Helenium spp.
./ ./
Bitter sneezewort ,
Helianthemum ./
nummularium Europe
Rock rose, Common
rock rose,
Helianthus annuus S.
Sunflower, Common
sunflower, Prairie
sunflower, Mirasel
./ ./
1" 1-
sphondylium N.temp
Hogweed, Cow parsnip,
Hippophae rhamnoides
Sea buckthorn, Sea
berry, Sallow thorn
Hyacinthoides non-
./ ./
.. .. ..
scripta Europe
Bluebell, Wild hyacinth,
Hypericum spp.
Rose of Sharon, Aaron's
beard, Creeping St
John's wort, Goldflower
Impatiens noli-tangere
./ ./
Touch-me-not, Yellow
Page 33

I album Europe
I Dead nettle

bay' Bay laurel ,
" English
I sp".

egg plant,
,ri , Yellow
'ril" Wild I
' .N.
... a ...
'al I , Red
oh,;; Indian pink
LOlus '0; '
foot trefoil, Baby's
I I Bacon and
Ei., '0;'
'1- 1

Spiked I i
nee po t Jan Feb Mar
It!: a
Jut Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Mahonia aquifolium
./ ./
W.N.Ameri ca
Mountain grape, Oregon
grape, Holly mahonia,
Mahonia japonica
./ ./
Mahonia nervosa
./ ./
Oregon grape
Malus sylvestris var.
./ ./
domestica (hybrids)
Orchard apple, Apple,
Malva spp.
./ ./
- 1-
Musk mallow
Melilotus spp.
White sweet clover,
- 10 1
Hubam sweet clover,
Bokhara clover, White
melilot, Bukhara clover
Mespilus germanica
./ ./
S.E. Europe
Monarda dldyma
1-1- - I-
Sweet bergamot , Bee
balm, Oswego tea,
Oswego bee balm
Myosotis spp.
./ ./
Nicotiana tabacum
./ ./
Trap America
Common tobacco,
Olearia haastii New
./ ./
I- I-
Origanum vulgare
./ ./
1- 1-
Wild marjoram,
Marjoram, Pot marjoram,
Oregano, Organy
Papaver orientale
Oriental poppy
Page 35

, rho.".s Europe
' ./
'R;d-POIP,Y, Corn poppy,
,g, '0'0 poppy,
I ' poppy

: ",'

, ivy
I elatior Europe
I 1 I
Engl ish
,.viurn Europe
cerasifera !./
, Cherry plum :
dulcis W. Asia
Peach persica China
"""""g,,g sacch.r.t ./

I sage
Europe ./ 1./ i
I ".' European
Species nee pol Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Ribes sangulneum
./ ./
W.N.Ameri ca
Winter currant,
Flowering currant, Red
flowered currant
Ribes speciosum
./ ./
Robinia pseudoacacia
./ ./
E. & c. U.S.
Black locust , False
acacia, Locust , Robinia,
Golden oak
Rosa rugosa
N.Chi na,Japan,Korea
Ramanas rose, Rugosa
rose, Turkestan rose,
Japanese rose
Rosmarinus officinalis
Rubus deliclosus W.
./ ./
Boulder raspberry I
Rocky Mountain
flowering raspberry,
Rubus fruticosus
Blackberry, Bramble,
Salix aegyptiaca
./ ./
Armenia, lran
Musk wi ll ow
Salix alba Europe,Asia
; ./ ./
White willow
Salix alba var. caerulea ./
- IU
Cricket bat willow
Salix caprea Europe
./ ./
'- 1-
Goat willow, Sallow,
Pussy willow, Florist's
Salix fragalis Europe
./ ./
Crack wi llow, Brittle
Salix purpurea Europe
./ ./
Purple will ow, Purple
osier, Basket willow
Page 37
Species nee pol Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Dei INov Dec
Salix repens . ./ ./
Creeping willow
Salix smithiana
./ ./
Salvia horminum
- I-
Satureja spp.
Scrophularla aurlculata
./ ./
Water figwort, Water
Scrophularia nodosa
./ ./
Knotted figworl , Figwort ,
Rosenoble, Throatwort
Sedum pulchellum U.S.
./ ../
Sinapis arvenis Europe
Field Charlock,
Solidago spp.
./ ./
Sorbus aucuparia
./ ./
Rowan, Mountain ash,
Stachys annua Europe
' ./
Annual woundwort,
Annual yellow
Stachys germanica
Downy woundwort
Stachys recta Europe
Yellow woundwort
./ ./
caucasicum Caucasus
Prickly comfrey, Blue
./ ./
grandiflorum Europe
Dwarf comfrey
Species nee po I Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Symphytum officinale
./ ./
Common comfrey,
Knitbone, Boneset
Symphytum tuberosum
./ ./
Tuberous comf rey
uplandleum (hybrid)
I- I-

Quaker comfrey,
Russian comfrey
Tanacetum parthenium
./ ./
Feverfew, Feverfew
Tanacetum vulgare ./ ./
IWlI- I-
Tansy, Goldenbuttons
Taraxacum officinale ./ ./
Temp rgns
I .....
Thymus spp. ./
Headed savory,
Cone head thyme,
Persian hyssop
Tilia euehlora (hybrid)
./ ./
.. _ I_
Common lime,
Caucasian li me,
Crimean lime, Crimean
li nden
Trifolium pratense
./ ./
Red clover
Trifolium repens
./ ./
... -
White clover, Dutch
cl over, White Dutch
Tulipa kaufmanniana
Water lily tulip
Tussilago tarfara
./ ./
" I
Coltsfoot, Bacey plant ,
~ o o r mar:!:s baccy
Ulex europaeus Europe
./ ./
Gorse, Furze, Whin
Page 39
Vicia cracca N.temp 1.1
vetch, Tufted
Bird vetch, Cow
[vetCh: Canada pea
[Vicia laba Med 1.1
IBroad bean, Field bean,
bean, Fava
saUva Me<l. I.f
,vetches, Spring
Iv;t:h,' Winter tare, Lentil
[of (" ,rl,
sativa ssp. nigra !"
lei, ", vetch
Vicia villosa Med '
Hairy vetch, Winter
Large Russian
.. ". i
China.l 1.1

I S.E. . I"
0 needle, Needle
Classified advert
Wanted. 1-4 acres (aouthish facing) in Devon, to create forest garden. Please contact Nicky,
07986620088. nhackney@wildmail.com.
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other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
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and productive system.
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Agroforestry News
Ostrich fern
Volume 16 Number 3
May 2008
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 16 Number 3 May 2008
2 News
15 Stone pine for nut production
18 Walnut breeding in California
20 Almond: breeding for fruit quality
21 Hazelnut breeding in Oregon
23 Pest series: Deer and Rabbits
29 Ostrich fern: Matteuccia struthiopteris
33 A low cost nut sorting machine
36 Roots of fruit & nut trees
39 Book reviews: Perennial Vegetables / The
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Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
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Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
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Page 1
Anti-cancer drug to be produced from Greater Celandine
A Ukrainian scientist who invented a revolutionary cancer treatment medicine plans to
manufacture the drug in Dubai. Dr Wassil Nowicky - who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for
chemistry in 2005 - is setting up a factory to produce Ukrain, a plant-based
Currently the product is made in Austria through a licensing arrangement and it is approved in
23 countries including the UAE, where the new factory will produce it.
The raw material is from Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) , a medicinal plant that grows in
Southern and Western Europe. The plant will be grown commercially in Europe where it will be
processed, then shipped to Dubai to produce the drug.
The drug is used to treat a variety of forms of cancer. Dr Nowicky, who lives in Austria and is in
his eighties, said Ukrain selectively destroyed cancer ceils without damaging healt hy ones. It
has been recognised as the first and only drug to do this by the US National Cancer institute, an
internationally recognised research institute. It is free of side-effects such as hair loss or
extreme nausea, so no additional drugs are needed. The Pharmacological Institute of the
University of Vienna established that Ukrain is non-toxic.
The effectiveness of the drug has been proved in 56 universities and research institutes by 192
scientists from 21 countries. The results have been presented at more than 150 international
medical congresses and published in around 100 scientific articles.
Source: Emirates Business 24/7, United Arab Emirates, 6 February 2008
Burning wood: issues for the future
Many environmental groups are championing wood and biomass-burning as a sustainable
carbon-neutral source of energy - both for heating and electricity production - for the future.
However, there are several problems wit h' moving more towards a wood-burning economy which
are not really being addressed. These are:
1. Wood burning is not carbon neutral.
2. There are serious health implications from the smoke produced from wood burning,
even from 'clean' burners.
3. Basing home heating requirements on wood burning requires a large area of dedicated
woodland managed as a fuel wood.
In terms of carbon neutrality, the burning of wood often ignores the fossil fuel used in the
harvesting, preparation and transporting of wood.
The carbon dioxide released when burning wood (about 1900g CO
for each 1000g of wood
burnt) is balanced by the fact that this carbon was taken up by the tree from the air when it
grew. So this part of the emissions is carbon-neutral. However, many other chemicals are
produced when wood is burnt , including one of the most potent greenhouse gases, nitrogen
dioxide; although the amounts may be small (200 g of CO
equi valent per kg of wood burnt), the
gas is 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and lasts 120 years in
the atmosphere. Methane is also produced (70 9 of CO .. equivalent per kg of wood) - 21 times
more potent than C02. Carbon monoxide is also produced in large amounts which has an
Page 2
indirect positive effect on global warming. Recent research suggests that particulates too have
a positive effect many times greater than the combined gases although they are short lived.
Overall, although figures vary depending on a multitude of factors, there is no doubt that wood
burning is contributing to global warming.
The health implications of wood burning derive from the emissions which contain carbon
monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates, as well as other noxious gases. In a rural
situation, where the burning inside a building is clean and with a flue, the health effects will be
minimal. In a situation in a village, town of city it is not so: ambient levels can rise severely (for
example, in Christchurch, New Zealand, where wood burning is common, wintertime levels of
particulates can become very high, causing an estimated 100 deaths a year and an increase in
hospital admissions from respiritory complaints by 8%). An estimated 1.5 to 2 million people
die per year worldwide from indoor smoke, mostly produced from open and unflued fires in the
'developing' world. Smoke particles in the EU (from wood and fossil fuel burning) reduce
average life expectancy by 8.6 months.
As to the area of woodland required, this is a less contentious issue. It depends, of course, on
the type of building being heated - a newly built ultra efficient house will require much less than
an older house. And if heating and hot water are both being generated by wood burning this
will increase the requirement. A recent case study of a new build with heating and hot water
from wood burning estimates a requirement of 12 tonnes/year of dry Douglas fir, equivalent to
about 9 tonnes/year of a denser wood like ash. Forestry Commission figures estimate 8
tonnes/year of air dry wood to heat a three bed roomed house. A 10 year fuelwood coppice
rotation of mixed deciduous trees produces about 1 tonne/acre/year (or 2.3 topnes/ha/year), so
8 acres of coppice would be requires to produce 8 tonnes of wood per year. Even the fastest
growing trees - alder, willow, poplar, eucalyptus - would require 6 acres to produce 8 tonnes of
wood per year. For the 30 mi llion households in Britain this would require about 4 times the
total agricultural+forestry land area available! Nobody is suggesting the entire population of
Britain use wood fuel, however, it is clear that in an era when food will need to be grown more
intensively, more locally and more sustainably, there will only be enough land for a small
minority to use wood for fuel.
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/444255J446867/255244/substances/645/ ?
The quantification of the effects of air pollution on health in the United Kingdom: COMEAP,
Department of Health, UK, 1998
UK national emissions inventory www.naei.org.uk
Domestic Woodfuellnstallations - A Case Study. Scottish Woodfuel News No 3, Nov 2007.
Papers from the 10th North American Agroforestry
A number of interesting papers appear in the conference proceedings from this 2007
conference (Olivier, A. and S. Campeau, eds. 2007. When Trees and Crops Get Together.
Proceedings of the 10th North American Agroforestry Conference, Quebec City, Canada, June
10-13, 2007.) Summaries of some of the most interesting appear below.
Page 3
Soil structure fauna in tree-based cropping systems
(1) A neglected aspect of soil quality is the ' diversity and spatial heterogeneity of microbial
communities and their effects on the stability of microbial functions. Sampling of agroforestry
plots in Quebec and Ontario suggest that tree-based intercropping systems enhance soil
microbial diversity compared to conventional cropping systems.
Source: Lacombe, S et af: Tree-based intercropping systems increase spatial Heterogeneity of
soil microbial communities.
(2} The proportion of water-stable aggregates (WSA) in soil influences soil quality, crop growth,
nu'rient retention, water infiltration, and surface runoff. Roots, fungi , and bacteria as well as
numerous chemical substances secreted by these agents play important roles in soil aggregate
formation, persistence, and turnover.
The results of this American study show that establishment of buffers with trees and grass as
well as grass waterways increased WSA, soil carbon, soil nitrogen, microbial diversity, and
enzyme activity. It could be speculated that improved soil physical properties and increased
microbial diversity may help to reduce non point source pollution from row crop agriculture
watersheds thus improving environmental quality.
Source: Udawatta, R et al: Soil aggregate stability and enzyme activity In agroforestry and row-
crop systems
Alley cropping and insects
This American research involves examining the effects of alley cropping on insect biodiversity,
crop yields, and small farm economics. Scientists investigated arthropod dynamics in a black
walnut-alfalfa practice and a heartnut-canola-wheat practice compared to conventionally grown
Results found that alfalfa weevil mortality was significantly higher in alley cropped alfalfa
compared to alfalfa, and that arthropod diversity was greater in alley cropped
crops compared to conventionally grown crops. Alfalfa yield from wider alleyways was not
significantly different from monocropped alfalfa. Economic models indicated alfalfa in wider
alleyways would be a profitable option for walnut growers. Alley cropping winter crops such as
canola and wheat provide less competition with trees for water , nutrients and light while
providing many of the same benefits found in the alfalfa-walnut system.
Source: Terrel Stamps, W et al: The ecology and economics of insect pest management And
biodiversity in nut tree alley cropping systems in The Midwestern U.S.
Blueberries in the forest
A novel system of intercropping trees and
blueberries has been developed in Quebec,
Canada. SO-metre blueberry field strips alternate
with intensively managed 42-metre forest strips.
Intensive management of the forest strips
compensates for the lost timber production in the
blueberry strips, thereby ensuring that the
preViously-granted forestry rights are respected.
The foresUblueberry approach might offer a number
of environmental , social and economic advantages:
Page 4
It releases land suitable for blueberry production but currently under forest
management ;
Among other things, the forest strips protect the soil from wind erosion, shelter the
blueberry flowers and fruit from froSl , and foster pollination of the fl owers.
Source and photo: Berard, L: L'amemagement de bleuetieres en milieu fcrestier : Une approche
agroforestiere novatrice.
Agroforestry in Northern China
Agroforestry in the northern plains of China has witnessed tremendous expansion over the last
quarter of century. Shelterbelts, intercropped trees, small woodlots, and home gardens are
found everywhere. In particular, more and more trees are planted abound and inside of farm
fields in the forms of shelterbelts and intercropping. As a result, forest cover in the region has
increased from less than 5% in the late 70s to over 15% now.
liangshan, a rural county in southwest Shandong, has a high population density - from more
than 300 people per square kilometer by the end of 1970s to over 500 in the mid 1990s. Thus,
land has been very limited - for a rural labour force of 147,800 in 1978, the total farmland was
only 55,880 ha. And this limited resource further declined to 54,980 ha in 2001, while the
labour force swelled to 322,600. So farmland per rural worker was 0.38 ha in 1978, and it
reduced to 0.17 ha in 2001.
The scarcity of land has severely constrained the growth of the local economy, which remains
agriculture based. To increase yields, the limited land has been utilized more than once a year,
improved seeds have been widely adopted, and irrigation has remained widespread. Further,
fertilizer application has intensified from about 50 kg/ha to around 700 kg/ha. However, these
technologies have their limitations; farmland has been subject to acute problems such as the
decline of upper layers of groundwater, the decrease in soil organic content, crop susceptibility
to pests and diseases, and desiccating early summer hot winds.
Furthermore, the combination of high input costs and low grain prices meant that once people's
subsistence needs are met, heavy dependency on cropping is not conducive to income growth
and livelihood improvement. Local farmers have thus made aggressive efforts to diversify their
economy by expanding their production activities into animal husbandry, forestry, and other
enterprises. It is against this backdrop that agroforestry has been adopted as a major way of
adapting to the fundamental constraints of regional biophysical , socioeconomic, and
demographical conditions. The ratio of farmland put under the protection of tree shelterbelts
has gone up from less than 30% in 1978 to more than 90%, and forest cover, over three
quarters of which is made up of intercropped trees, rose from 6.4% in 1978 to 15.3% in 2001.
The production of annual crops was the dominant means of livelihood in 1978, accounting for
83% of their total agricultural production value; in 2001 , it declined to 54%.
Situated in southwest Shandong, Heze is a municipality of twelve rural counties. There,
shelterbelts are established in blocks of 13-30 ha to create a network of trees that reduces the
impacts of wind. These grid-like barriers are normally planted 2-4 rows deep
In intercropping, two year-old tree seedlings are planted in farmland, with a spacing of either 3m
x 6m or 3m x 8m. Sometimes, two rows of trees are planted side by side at a spc"'ir'lQ of 3m x
x3m followed by a 10 metre gap for growing annual crops. Poplar has become the .... qlar
species of choice. Poplar seedlings come from genetically improved clonal variet;
Annual crops are planted in-between the rows of trees. Winter wheat is the fi
during the first a few years of the trees' growth. Corn, cotton, and peanuts are
Page 7
second crops. After 3-4 years of intercropping, the shading effect of tree crowns inhibits the
growth of annual these crops. They are then replaced by more shade-tolerant crops like alfalfa,
which has the added benefits of fixing nitrogen in the soil and providing food for livestock.
Farmers then continue to manage the standing poplar trees, including fertilizer application,
pruning, and tilling. After 5-8 years the poplar trees are harvested and logs are transported to
nearby processing centres in villages.
Local governments provide farmers interested in planting trees with seedlings free-ot-charge.
FiQancial support is also offered to people entering wood products processing in the forms of
lowered electricity costs and low interest loans.
In addition, the success of agroforestry can be attributed to technical assistance by local
governments. A technical extension service has been created for farmers , whose agents hold
demonstrations that are geared toward proper planting techniques and intermediate treatments
such as application of fertil izer. The governments have also emphasized the role of research
and development of the agroforestry systems and the individual trees that are used in these
systems, with a focus on the silvicultural characteristics and biological performance of the fast
growing and hardy hybrid poplars.
Farmers' income obtained from their land has increased by 30-70% as a result of interplanting
hybrid popl ar into their fields
The expansion of agroforestry systems has also led to the development of small-scale wood
products mills making wood panels, fibreboard, veneers, and plywood. Currently 28,000 mills
have been established within Heze, with a total employment of 500,000 villagers . The total
wood utilization amounts to approximately six million cubic metres per year, with an annual
processing value of $ 850 million. The economic success of agroforestry is also helped by
national timber shortages and thus very high timber prices.
Source: Yin, A & Sun, 0: Agroforestry boom in the northern plains of china: Drivers and impacts
Growing and marketing forest botanicals
Many of the plants used in the natural products industry are collected from wild populations
from forests. As the demand for herbal products rises, the potential for damaging wi ld
populations by over harvesting increases. The industry also has concerns over raw ingredient
quality, consistency of supply, and species identification of wild harvested materials. The result
is a rising demand for cultivated forest botanicals. This presents a new income opportunity for
farmers and forest landowners, but entering the market can be challenging, and reliable and
practical cultivation information is difficult to find and often not appropriate for a wide range of
situations and locations.
The author of this paper has spent many years studying the production and marketing of a large
number of North American forest botanicals and has devised a step-by-step recommended
approach for new producers:
Step 1: Learn about the medicinal herb industry
Spend time reading about the industry, attending conferences and trade shows, and visiting
growers and buyers. You can't be a successful in this market if you don't take the time to learn
about it.
Step 2: Evaluate your resources and personal attributes
Take a serious, objective look at what resources you have already. For example, how much
land do you have and what is it like? Do you have woods or open fields? Is the soil healthy
"d well drained or rocky and thin? What have you successfully produced on your land or what
Page 4
grows there naturally? Can you protect your crops from theft? What kind of equipment do you
Also consider personal attributes, such as how much time, energy, and money do you have to
put into this endeavor? And now is the time to start thinking about how you want to market your
crop. Producing for the wholesale market versus producing for a direct market require very
different approaches, personal strengths and personality, time, and volumes of product.
Step 3: Create a business plan
This is the least popular step in the process, but it is probably the most important. This is
where you put it all down on paper and make sure that that your idea makes sense! This is also
the time to make the decision about whether you want to sell wholesale, retail , or make a value
added product.
Step 4: Decide If you are going to produce organically or not
Before you even disturb the soil or plant a seed, you should decide if you are going to produce
a certified organic crop or not. Certified organic herbs often command premium prices, but
demand for volume is much less. Certified organic production requires extensive
recordkeeping, annual inspections, and a higher level of management than a conventional
production system does.
Step 5: Learn how to grow and market your herbs
Learn everything you can about how to grow and market native botanicals by reading books and
websites, attending conferences, visiting growers and buyers, and c0'l1municating with
agricultural specialists. I recommend that potential growers spend six months to a year on this
step. During this time you will finalize what you are going to grow and how you intend to sell it.
Most people think only about selling their herbs wholesale to a ~ b i g buyerft . This may be
appropriate for you, especially if you plan to grow large acreages of herbs. But you should also
consider ~ a d d i n g value
to your herbs. This can be as Simple as offering a variety of package
sizes to your customers or you might want to go so far as to create your own tinctures, body
care products, or tea blends. Whatever you choose to do, focus on producing a quality product.
Step 6: Grow your success
A major key to success is staying on top of the industry. Do this by continually networking with
others, subscribing to major industry publications, and attending at least one annual trades how.
Making your product stand out and getting it in front of buyers should be of utmost importance.
Consider working with other growers to increase your market presence and ability to meet
Growing forest botanicals
Site selection
Proper site selection is critical for successful cultivation of forest botanicals. All of the plants
mentioned in this article grow well under 75% to 80% shade provided by a deciduous forest , or
mixed deciduous and pine forest. Most of these herbs require a moist , well-drained soil.
Many woodland botanicals will tolerate a variet y of soil types, although in general , heavy clays
and very sandy soils should be avoided. An ideal soil is usually a silty loam with high organic
matter. Most of these plants prefer a sl ightl y acid soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0.
The most economical way to provide shade is to use the natural forest canopy. Deeply rooted
deciduous trees such as walnut, oak, poplar, and lime are good. Soli d stands of conifers or
other shallow rooted trees compete too much for water and nutrients. Remove undergrowth,
which will also compete with the herbs and reduce air circulation.
Different production systems
Decide what intensity of cultivation you want to use, wild-simulated or woods cultivated.
In a wild simulated production system, your goal is to mimic what happens naturally as much as
possible. This is a low-input system that produces plants that are very similar to wild harvested
plants. A wild simulated system usually produces the lowest yields, but in the case of ginseng,
prottuces plants of the highest value. For wild-simulated production, rake the leaf litter and top
layer of soil aside, scatter the seed or plant the rootstock, and redistribute the soil and leaves
over the planted area. Ginseng growers will often sprinkle a little gypsum on the soil , too.
Expect a fairly large percentage of seed to be lost to rodents, disease, and desiccation. To
make management easier, plant in defined areas so you aren't always walking through your
planted areas.
A woods cultivated system requires more inputs than a wild simulated system, but as a result,
usually produces higher yields. In the case of ginseng, however, the roots will be worth less on
a weight basis. For woods cultivation remove all obstructions such as stumps, rocks, and big
roots. Till the soil , incorporate soi l amendments, and if possible, build raised beds. Sow seed
or plant rootstock, and cover with a good layer of mulch. Regular fertilizer and pest control
programs are usually implemented in woods cultivated and artificial shade systems.
Seed and rootstock
Obtain the highest quality seed or planting stock that you can find. Learn about the
stratification requirements for seeds and chilling requirements for roots for each kind of plant
you want to produce.
Diseases and pests
Many of these botanicals are rarely bothered by disease when grown in a garden setting. As
plant populations and infensity of production increase, disease pressure often rises, too.
Ginseng, however, tends to get all kinds of diseases whenever more than just a few plants are
cultivated together. With the exception of ginseng, there is little information on diseases,
disease control , or products to apply to prevent or control disease. Prevention is usually the
best method: select a site with good air and soil drainage; establish small plantings in several
locations and avoid overcrowding of plants. Insects are rarely a problem, but rodents, deer, etc
might also enjoy your botanicals and fencing and other deterrents might be required to prevent
damage. Traps, baits, and cats are frequently used to keep down populations of rates, mice,
and voles.
Seed collection
All of the forest botanicals must grow for several years before they reach harvestable size.
During these growing years, seeds can often be collected and sown in another area or sold.
Many of these seeds have exacting germination requirements and may require a stratification
Harvest and post-harvest handling
When it is time to harvest , carefully dig the roots to minimize root injury. Spades or forks can
be used for small plantings and large tractor mounted diggers, similar to potato diggers, can be
used for large plantings. Roots must be carefully washed and dried and properly packaged and
Consider having your herbs tested for bioactive constituents, heavy metals, pesticides, and
microbial contaminants. For some buyers, this will add value to your product.
Page 8
Some North American forest botanicals that can be culti vated
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is the most well -known and valuable of all the 'native forest
botanicals. It is an herbaceous perennial with a fleshy root that sets a cluster of large red
berries in late summer. Ginseng is indigenous to the forests of much of eastern Canada and
the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States and was once prevalent i n some areas. The
market demand is primari ly for the dried root, although there is a small market for the fresh root
and an even smaller market for the dried leaves. The active chemical constituents in ginseng
are the ginsenosides, the amount and type of which varies between species of ginseng and
depending on where and how the plants are grown. Ginseng is unusual because price is
determined by how it is grown. High yields of ginseng root can be produced in three to four
years under artificial shade, but the price per pound wi ll be low. Gi nseng grown in the woods,
either in beds or in a wild simulated system, will be more valuable, but it will take seven years
or more to mature and the yields wi ll be less. Ginseng is not an easy crop to grow. It is
vul nerable to a number of diseases, wildli fe, and poaching.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) is also now is great demand. It is an herbaceous perennial
which grows i n ri ch woods in the eastern United States and Canada. Goldenseal has an
underground rhizome covered with fibrous roots, by which it readi ly spreads and is easil y
propagated. Both rhizome and roots have bright yellow interiors. The medicinal propert ies of
goldenseal are attri buted to alkaloids found throughout the plant, the major ones being
hydrasti ne and berberi ne. The market is most ly for t he rh izome and roots although there is a
small market for leaves. Goldenseal has tradi tionall y been used as a mouth and
eye wash and is well known for its antiseptic properties.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is one of the first plants to emerge in the spring and has a
thick underground rhizome with bright red sap. The rhizome has traditionally been used as a
dye, to treat skin lesions, and to prevent tooth decay. The demand for bloodroot was low but
steady for decades, and as a result, it has been almost excl usively wil d harvested. Demand for
bloodroot spiked suddenly in 2000 when a German company began using it as an appetite
stimulant in cattle feed. Bloodroot is also being studied for the treatment of cancer. This
demand resulted i n some commercial cul tivation, although it is sti ll quite limited. The major
alkaloid believed to be responsible for bloodroot's medicinal and anti-microbial properties is
sanquinarine. Bloodroot is commonty propagated by rhizome cuttings and seed.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is an attractive plant with feathery foliage, tall spikes of white
flowers , and a thick, knotty rhizome. The rhizome is commonly used as an alternative to
hormone replacement therapy to treat unpleasant menopausal symptoms. It is in high demand,
which is putting pressure on wide populations. There is some cultivation underway, particularly
in Canada and Germany, but prices remain too low to interest many growers in North America.
Black cohosh is most commonly propagated by rhizome cuttings, but may also be propagated
by seed.
There are a large number of other woodland botanicals that are currently collected from the wild
that can be cultivated. Examples incl ude blue cohosh (Cau!ophyllum thalictroides), false
unicorn (Chamaelirium !uleum), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), and wild ginger (Asarum
canadense). There is very limited information available on cultivation of these other botanicals.
Source: Davis, N: Growi ng and marketing native forest botanicals
Pecan-garlic agroforestry
The owners of 8ellbowra organic pecan orchard in New South Wales, Australia, are
successfully intercropping their establishing pecan orchard with a high-value garlic crop.
400 pecan trees were planted in 2003 and another 200 in 2007, with more to follow in the
future. Trees were planted in rows 12 or 14 m apart, with trees at 6 or 7 m apart respectively in
the row. With the wide spacing between pecan rows there is a lot of 'unproductive' space whilst
the trees are young. An intercrop of Russian garlic was chosen for several reasons including
relatively low start-up costs, ease of growing organically and a good projected financial return.
Russian garlic has been grown for 5 years now. Each pecan interrow is ripped and rotary hoed
in late summer to kill weeds and create raised beds. The garlic is planted in autumn (between
Feb and April there) and is irrigated by ' T-Tape' which is connected to the pecan irrigation
system ( a gravity fed system using header tanks fi ll ed from a bore). Once planted, the garlic is
covered in mulch hay which is cut and baled on the property.
Harvesting commences in summer (November), the crop is died, packed and sent to markets.
All the garlic 'waste' (tops and roots) are returned to the pecan interrow to minimise nutrient
Garlic must be grown on a long rotation, so each year a new area of the pecan orchard is used.
With production in 2007 of 3.5 lonnes of organically certified premium quality Russian garlic, the
interrow crop makes a very substantial contribution to the farm orchard.
Substantial quantities of mulch are placed over the entire pecan interrow which has had a
measurable effect on the soil. Organic matter and carbon levels in the soil are greater where
garlic has been grown. Foliage analysis also indicates greater nitrogen in leaves of pecan trees
in these areas compared with non-mulched trees. US research has shown the benefit of
organic mulches for pecan tree growth, with taller trees and larger crowns in mulched versus
unmulched trees, with leaf mineral nutrition also much improved.
Source: Thornton, 0 & Bates, T: Inter-row cropping in an organic pecan orchard. Australian
Nutgrower, March 2008.
Hazelnuts - conventional vs organic orchards
A two year study in Italy compared conventional and organic hazelnut production, examining
yields and nut quality. The researchers found that conventional orchards outperformed organic
orchards in most measured outcomes:
Yields: organic yields were 20-60% those of conventional.
The lower productivity of the organic orchard is more striking in the 'off' year of
Average nut weight and kernel weight was higher in the conventional orchard.
Kernel percentage was also higher in conventional orchard.
Rates of mouldy, rancid and shrivelled kernels was higher in the organic orchard.
Rates of insect damage to nuts is higher in the organic orchard.
There were no significant differences between the two systems in the number of Curculio
(weevil) holes, or in the rate of empty nuts.
The authors conclude that organic management of hazel orchards is a problem rather than an
opportunity for Italian growers.
Source: Roversi, A & Castellino, L: Further investigations on hazelnut yielding in conventional
and organic management. NUCIS-Newsletter, 14.
Grape hyacinth as a vegetable
Many folk will know of grape hyacinth (Muscari comosum or Leopoldia comosa) as a spring
flowering bulb common in gardens, but fewer know that this is a traditional vegetable still widely
used in Sicily.
The plant , a member of the lily family, is found on sandy soils from the plains to the mountains
in Sicily. The bulbs are characterised by bitterness, which is removed partially by boiling. The
bulbs are then preserved in olive oil and/or vinegar and used as a starter or as a condiment.
Bulbs are rarely cultivated there, but are harvested from the wild.
Source: Branca, F & La Malfa, G: Traditional Vegetables of Sicily. Chronica Horticulturae, Vol
48 No 1.
Chestnut drinks: beer and coffee
Lee and Lynda Williams of Trails End Chestnuts, Washington, USA, have found a way to use
chestnuts not high enough quality for fresh sales, dried whole chestnut products or their fine-
grade flour - by grinding them into material for chestnut beer. The dark colored, slightly sweet
beer is gaining popularity among the gluten-free category of beers, and chestnut beers from
producers like the Williams are available from a growing handful of microbreweries across the
Situated in the desert region of Washington state on sandy loam soil on the "basic or neutral
side" says Williams, people told them chestnuts wouldn't grow there. "We do i! anyway," says
Lee. Lee and Lynda have five acres of chestnuts with approximately 500 trees; the oldest tree
in their orchard is 13 years old. Lee started all their chestnuts from seed, using
Japanese/ European crosses. There is no shortage of sunshine, but irrigation is required for
production. In 2007, they harvested around 5,000 pounds of chestnuts, but a heat wave in June
of 2006 -followed by a rare hail storm with high winds -brought their 2006 crop to 1400
pounds of fresh market quality chestnuts (which the Williams sold out) .
The Williams also became inspired from a trip to New Zealand last year for a chestnut council
meeting, where they observed a fresh peeler (not allowed out of New Zealand!) , after which Lee
chose to create his own equipment. He applies his mechanical know-how to improving upon his
processing and shelling equipment. Whole, dried chestnuts are a good seller for the Williams,
especially to Oriental markets in the USA. The Williams bulk process up to 1 gallons at a time
of whole, dried chestnuts, packaging and labeling as Trails End Chestnuts. They drop ship for
a large discount food business in New Hampshire, using the buyer' s label. Wholesale grocers
and loyal customers are another business outlet , and the Williams have shipped from Florida to
Seattle, and from Los Angeles to Maine. Their fresh chestnuts have been shipped as far as
Alaska and Hawaii.
~ W e call our dried chestnuts 'gourmet ,' because they're very good quality, pellicle free and
reconstitute nicely," says Lee. YThe chestnuts the pellicle adheres to are used for the beer,
because the pellicle gives the dried nuts a tangy taste. But this tanginess is great for beer and
it adds to the dark colour also. "
"The market for coeliacs (gluten intolerant) is bigger than you might think, " says Lee,
mentioning a government statistic that one out of every 133 persons in the U.S. is gluten
intolerant. Chestnut beer made in Corsica and France, such as Pietra brand, are made with 15
to 20 percent chestnuts. Lee explains that barley, which is typically used for beer production,
has the same nutritional content as chestnuts - though the chemistry of chestnuts is a little
different than barley.
To make chestnut chips of cracked barley size for microbrew production, Lee and Lynda start
with cleaned, shelled and dried chestnuts, which are "rock hard. " They go into a pre-cracker
and then a stone flour mill produces a "cracked-corn" product. The spacing of the stones in this
type of flour mill determine the coarseness and size of the flour, so the Williams space the
stones farther to produce the consistency needed for beer. Some of the chips are roasted on a
large electric range with a circulation fan Lee made from a convection oven, to impart a richer,
bolder flavor. Approximately 7 pounds of chestnut chips are needed to produce 5 gallons of the
Williams ~ D a r k Chestnut Brew. "
"Wet keep working on the beer and improving the recipe we offer to people for chestnut beer,
though we don't produce chestnut beer to sell ourselves. My goal is to provide the chestnut
chips for home brewers," says Lee. Home brewers and microbreweries find Trails End
Chestnuts through news articles or from their web site. Web sites featuring gluten-free beers
and Google articles also help achieve business. The gluten-free beer market is really starting
to click, and gaining momentum now," says Lee. "There are ten or 15 types of grains out there
suitable for gluten-free beers, but the chestnuts give it a unique, delicious flavor."
"If I could get all chestnut growers to understand that there's a market for dried nuts, and for
chestnut chips, then the general public might also become more aware of these products. There
are growers out there with hundreds of pounds of nut chips, or nuts with pellicles adhered,
wondering what to do with them," says Lee. "Chestnut growers have to create their own
markets, but the gluten-free market is big and getting bigger. "
Lee's newest chestnut-related product for this "retired" farmer is chestnut coffee.
Williams' coffee, which he has named Castagno Cafe, is made from roasting left-over chestnut
meal in the oven. He does big batches of it - about 8 Ibs. at a time. "When it comes out it
looks just like fine-ground coffee," he said. "I took some of this roasted chestnut stuff and used
it in a pot of coffee." After a bit of trial-and-error, Williams determined the best way to make the
drink is to use four level tablespoons in 12 cups of water. Williams' chestnut coffee can be
made in a regular drip coffee maker. "It's very good iced too," he said.
Williams, of Trails End Chestnuts, Moses Lake, Wash. , compares it with other coffee substitutes
made with roasted grains. It 's great for people who prefer not to drink so much caffeine or who
have a gluten allergy. Williams sells the ,Castagno Cafe through a natural foods company in
New Hampshire. (httc:llwww.simply-natural.biz/chestnut-coffee.php)
Williams said although the chestnut coffee substitute is tasty, the demand for his new hot
beverage hasn't been high yet - but that's okay with him. He said all of his unique chestnut
products are just really a way for him to keep busy experimenting while retired. "I was looking
for something to do, " he said. "It started out as a hobby 16 years ago - now it's turning into
some work. "
The editor of the Chestnut Grower commented: "I prepared a pot of Castagno Cafe for some
friends and relatives and the response was pretty positive. The smell of the roasted chestnuts
was different from coffee, but just as fragrant - sweet and nutty, almost chocolaty. The coffee
drinkers of the bunch thought it was very smooth with no aftertaste, slightly sweet - they didn't
add milk or cream. The tea drinkers enjoyed it with a little cream since they felt it was a little
strong alone. All agreed it was a good coffee alternative. "
Sources: The Chestnut Grower, Vol 9 No 3 (Summer 2007) and Vol 9 No 1 (Winter 2007);
www.chestnuttrai ls.com
Page 12
Non-brewing uses of hops
Hops are an essential beer ingredient because they contain two types of bittering acids: alpha
and beta. Bitter alpha acids complement beer's malty sweetness to give the beverage its
distinct flavour . They also promote the yeastbrewing process and hinder bacterial growth.
Beta acids, which have a greater effect on inhibiting microbial growth, also influence bitterness
but to a much lesser extent than alpha acids.
ARS scientists in ths USA are working with brewers and growers to breed new varieties of hops
to improve their current uses and expand into new markets. Over the past few decades, they
have developed and released several hop cultivars with traits like disease resistance, climate
tolerance, and aesthetic appeal. They've also bred them for high concentrations of alpha and
beta acids.
Different alpha-to-beta ratios affect the physical characteristics of hops and their uses. While
alpha acids are essential for brewing, their acrid flavor limits their use in other products. Low-
alpha cultivars have many of the same beneficial qualities, but more diverse uses, such as in
herbal teas or as nutritious feed supplements.
Hops have been used in folk remedies for everything from coughs to cancer. So what kind of
hops would work best in an herbal tea? The answer is Teamaker, a variety released in 2006 by
the ARS Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit (FSCRU) at Corvallis, Oregon. Teamaker has
the lowest alpha acid content (0.6 to 1.8 percent) of any commercially available hop variety.
And its beta acid levels (5.4 to 13.2 percent) are significantly higher than those found in most
This extremely high beta-to-alpha ratio gives Teamaker all the health benefits of traditional hops
cultivars but not their characteristic bitterness. This creates opportunities for nontraditional
uses besides tea. One such use is in sugar processing, where beta acids from hops can
substitute for an antibacterial called "formalin. "
Another potential use is in livestock production, where the animals can benefit from the
antimicrobial properties of hops. Since low-alpha varieties are more palatable, they could be
mixed into animal feed to reduce microbial and fungal illnesses. In fact , researchers elsewhere
have found positive effects of using hops in poultry feed as an alternative to antibiotics.
Source: Agricultural Research Magazine, January 2008.
Tree heartwood extracts halt Sudden Oak Death
In the mid-1990s, a new plant disease surfaced on the West Coast of America and quickly
spread through several counties in California and Oregon. Sudden oak death (SOD) is, as the
name implies, a rapidly spreading disease that can kill or injure several oak species and more
than 100 other plant species.
Scientists from the ARS, USDA Forest Service, and Oregon State University have found that
extracts from tree heartwood can limit the growth and sporulation of the agent that causes SOD.
The extracts can't cure infected trees, but they could be used to halt the disease' s spread.
The source of SOD is a funguslike microorganism, Phytophthora ramorum. Unknown before the
1990s, P. ramorum has since been discovered in several European countries including the UK.
Though it has cropped up in nurseries in more than 20 U.S. states, in the wild it has not been
observed outside of California and one county in Oregon.
P. ramorum causes the typical SOD symptoms in more than 30 plant species, including
rhododendron, maple, honeysuckle, and California bay laurel. P. ramorum can also infect more
than 100 other plant species, giving rise to a milder foliar disease called ~ r a m o r u m blight. "
P. ramorum is related to other Phytophthora species that seriously affect other trees, like ink
disease of sweet chestnut. To date, there is no known cure for SOD, so management strategies
focus on preventing it from moving to new hosts. Scientists tested the effectiveness of
heartwood from a variety of trees in destroying fungal spores-the main means of dispersal for
P. ramorum .

For years, scientists have known that tree heartwood-the older, nonliving wood-contains
protective antimicrobial compounds. The compounds found in the heartwood of Alaska yellow
cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), for example, are known to prevent decay for up to a
century after the tree has died. Compounds from the heartwood of several other conifer
species are known to have similar antimicrobial properties.
The scientists exposed P. ramorum spores to various compounds, wood chips, and essential
oils extracted from heartwood. They found that extracts from incense cedar (Cafocedrus
decurrens) , western red cedar (Thuja pficata) , Alaska yellow cedar (Chamaecyparis
nootkatensis), western juniper (Juniperus occidentafis), and Port Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis
lawsoniana) exhibited antimicrobial activity against P. ramorum--destroying the spores and
inhibiting the growth of fungal cells.
Extracts from western red cedar and incense cedar damaged twice as many spores as those
taken from Alaska yellow cedar, western juniper, and Port Orford cedar. Douglas fir and
redwood extracts, which were also examined in the study, showed little to no antimicrobial
activity against the pathogen.
The potential application of these heartwood compounds is not limited to P. ramorum. Similar
levels of activity have been observed in trials using P. sojae and P. erythroseptica, two
Phytophthora species that c1ttack agricultural crops.
The chemical composition of heartwood varies among individual trees, and further studies are
needed to confirm which compounds offer the best protection against SOD. Individual
heartwood compounds might be develope,d i nto environmentally friendly fungicides that could
protect plants against P. ramorum infection.
Using tree heartwood extracts has the potential to be an easy-to-implement, environmentally
friendly, and effective method of SOD control. Western red cedar is considrered the best
candidate, because it is extremely effective and the trees grow naturally in the continental
United States (and also in western Britain) . Yellow cedar, though somewhat less effective, is
abundant in Alaska and can also be processed into shavings, sawdust, or wood chips.
Lightweight and easily transportable, these antimicrobial materials could be distributed without
further processing in areas with high human activities-such as footpaths and and bike paths-
to reduce spore movement and prevent spread of the disease.
Source: Agricultural Research Magazine, April 2008.
Summer tree forage
Scientists in the USA have been researching alternative livestock feeds
when herbaceous forages become limiting in summer. Species examined were black locust
(Robinia pseudoacacia) and mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), respectively, pollarded at 50 em, in
Arkansas, USA.
Black locust exceeded mimosa in total leaf mass per tree, shoots per tree, shoot mass per tree,
stem basal area, and biomass per tree. Projected yields were 1,900 kg/ ha for black locust and
1,600 kg leaves/ ha for mimosa, respectively, assuming a population of 12,300 trees/ ha.
Mimosa leaves had greater in vitro dry matter digestibility, total nonstructural carbohydrate, and
nitrogen digestibility than black locust. Mimosa leaves exceeded the nutritional N requirements
of growing cattle and goats, but protein supplementation would be needed for growing goats
grazing black locust leaves. Tissue concentrations of secondary metabolites robinin and
mimosine were below detectable limits in black locust and mimosa, respectively. The
conclusion was that either black locust or mimosa could provide moderate quantities of high
quality, rotationally grazed forage during summer months when herbaceous forage may in short
Source: Burner, D et al: Yield components and nutritive value of Robinia pseudoacacia and
Albizia julibrissin in Arkansas, USA. Agroforestry Systems, Vol 72 No 1 (2007).
Hedgerow intercropping in China
Hedgerow intercropping systems were introduced in China in early 1990s. A review of the
achievements in during the past 15 years shows that hedgerow intercropping contributes to soil
and water conservation, soil fertility amelioration, land productivity improvement, bio-terrace
formation, and gives more options for income generation based on local resources in mountain
To date, hedgerow intercropping has been demonstrated and applied practically on sloping land
in more than six provinces of China, particularly Sichuan, Guizhou, Shanxi , Shaanxi , as well as
in the Three Gorges region of Chongqing and Hubei Province. The intercropping system has
also been used for conserving farming on sloping lands, improving cash income, and reducing
agricultural risks in depressed mountainous regions in southwest and northern China over
recent years.
Source: Sun H et al: Contour hedgerow intercropping in the mountains of China: a review.
Agroforestry Systems, Vol 73 No 1 (2008).
Stone pine for nut production
The Mediterranean stone pine, Pinus pinea, produces the well known pine nuts traditi onally
used in Mediterranean and Arabic cuisine. Due to their high quality, they achieve higher prices
than alternatives such as the Chinese Pinus koraiensis. In Spain and Portugal , the main nut-
producing countries, a total of over 550,000 ha of stone pine exists, yet hardly any effort has
been made for its domestication as a nut crop - there are no defined cultivars, but nearly the
Page 15
whole current production is still harvested from forest stands where no cultivation techniques
are applied except seeding or planting of new stands, thinnings for stand density regulation, and
some pruning in the lower or inner crown to ease manual harvesting or (historically) for fuel
In recent years, though, the crisis of traditional rain-fed crops in the Mediterranean has
focussed interest in stone pine as an alternative woody crop on farmland. Since 1992, much
afforestation has used stone pine with the expectation of future cone crops, and cone gathering
has started to be machine harvested in a few places, overcoming the shortage of skilled labour
for the dangerous job of pine climbing for cone picking.
Stone pine improvement
In Italy, Portugal and Spain, research on grafting techniques and improved selections has been
undertaken, aiming for the improvement of pine nut production in plantations or specific
agroforestry systems. In Spain, several grafted clonal trials
has been established and arte being evaluated. Whilst most
genuine stone pine forests grow mainly on sandy or rocky
soils without much agronomic value (which is the reason
these woodlands have not been ploughed up since the
Middle Ages) , grafted plantations on farmland are expected
to produce higher yields.
Cones on stone pine are produced on the vigorous upright
growing shoots at the top of the crown. Growing stone pine
in a dense stand, with trees too close together , leads to
conical shaped canopies (much like other pines when grown
densely) with few vertical shoots apart from the leader, and
thus few cones. Only vigorously growing, widely spaced
stone pine trees with the characteristic umbrella-shaped
canopy will render high yieJds. In Spain, with tree spacings
of at least 6 m x 6 m (278 trees/hal, the best/most vigorous
trees have reached mean annual cone yields of 4-6 kg and
maximum yields of 12-15 kg (2-2.5 kg pine nuts) in less than
10 years from grafting.
Propagation and rootstocks
Female P.pinea flower
The most used propagation technique is tip grafting in spring, substituting the terminal bud of
the stock's leading shoot by a bud of the selected clone, using container-raised rootstocks in a
Because in stone pine woody grating is not feasible, scions are obtained from long shoot
terminal buds (still green soft tissue), ideally at the moment the spring flush is starting. For fast
callusing and a quick sap supply between tissues, the stock should be slight ly more advanced-
after bud burst though before complete shoot elongation.. Timing can vary depending on the
locality and season, but in Spain it is between March (southern Andalusia) and May (inner
The grafting point is tied up with Parafilm tape and protected for several weeks from water and
drying out by a transparent perforated plastiC bag. At grafting, stock branches are partially cut
back to avoid competition with the scion; the are cut off completely in the autumn.
For rootstocks, any good seedling of stone pine or Aleppo pine (the latter for calcareous soils)
are used. There is no prospect of dwarf rootstocks because of the importance of crown
diameter and growth for cone production.
Orchard establishment and management
Tree spacing should be wide enough to avoid lateral shading and to encourage large crown
development; also, in the Mediterranean, to avoid too much competition for water. Spacing of
at least 6 m is advisable.
Stone pine prefers loose sandy soi ls, though it produces well on stony sites or gravels.
Compact layers of clay or silt will
restrict roots and crown development.
Flowering is late, normally avoiding
frost damage. Annual rainfall of over
600 mm is best , if well grown cones
(250-350 9 each) are wanted.
No pruning is required in the upper
crown, where female flowering mainly
occurs. Pruning lower in the tree does
not greatly influence the upper shoots
in widely spaced trees, so although
weak or lower branches may be
removed for access etc. , it does not
make sense to prune more than this.
Although chemical fertilisers have
increased crop yields, in the
Mediterranean nutrient uptake
depends mainly on water availability
and irrigation is not really
economically viable for stone pines,
thus fertilisers have little value.
Animal manures must be used
carefully as they can easily burn the
sensitive conifer roots or mycorrhiza.
An improved Pinus pinea selection in Spain
In the future, cones might be gathered in commercial grafted plantations by harvesting
machines (special vibrating jaws coupled on the jib of a farm tractor). In this case, the lower
tiers of tree branches should be pruned during the first years after grafting, to form a robust ,
straight cylindrical stem of at least 2 m beneath the crown base to allow the shaking of the
crown. Currently, strips with a few spaced lines of trees like this, with bare soil maintained
beneath, are being successfully tried as fire defence areas along roads or forest tracks. Stone
pines pruned thus will survive fires that are a recurrent element in Mediterranean forests and
Mutke, S et al: Stone pine orchards for nut production: which, where, how? NUCIS-Newsletter
14 (2007).
Walnut breeding in California
California is one of the world's largest walnut producers, with Chandler the main variety used.
Ongoing research at the University of California is aiming to breed new varieties and also to
develop reliable walnut rootstocks.
The ideal walnut variety for California would

be at least moderately resistant to pests and diseases
be relat ively late leafing to escape frosts and the rains that spread walnut blight
be precocious (yielding over 500 kg/ ha in the fourth year)
be vigorous with bearing on both terminal and lateral shoots
have a low incidence fl ower drop
would not be alternate bearing
have high production capacity (over 6 tonnes/ ha at maturity) with low chemical input
finish harvest in early October in California
have nut shells which are fairly smooth, well sealed and no more than 50% of the nut
have large nuts
have plump, light coloured kernels weighing 7-8 g which come out easil y in halves
The probability of breeding the ideal walnut is good because most of the traits above have high
heritabilities. and there are already varieties with most (but not all ) of the traits present.
The breeding program in California includes germplasm collection and evaluation, controlled
crossing and half-sib mati l]9, progeny evaluation, field trials and release.
Controlled populations
In contrOlled populations, both the male and female parent are selected. Pollen from the male
parent is collected from the catkins and dried. Female flowers are bagged prior to receptivity
and when the flowers are recept ive, pollen from the selected parent is injected into the bag,
which is left in place until floweri ng as over and the small nutlets are visible. At harvest time the
nuts are collected, dried and planted in a greenhouse or nursery row, prior to transplanting into
a 'seedling block'.
these controlled populations are very labour intensive and produce only about 30-50
seedlings per 100 bags, supplemental pollination is often also used in isolated orchards. Here,
from selected male parents is mixed and blown into a young isolated orchard (with no
?atkrns) of the. selected female variety. Alternatively, open pollinated seed is collected from an
Isolated block which includes a mi xture of the parents whi ch are wanted. These latter
methods result In thousands of seedli ngs.
Seedlings from the pollinations are planted in a seedling block for evaluation. These seedlings
ar.e grown cl ose together and training is aimed at having the nuts within reach. Beginning in the
thrrd to fourth year from seed, extensive data is collected:
Page 18
Field traits
Leafing date
Female bloom
Male bloom
% overlap: male & female
Catkin abundance
Female flower abundance
% fruitful laterals
Walnut blight incidence
Codling moth incidence
Harvest date
Nut traits
Shell texture
Shell colour
Shell seal
Shell strength
Shell integrity
Shell thickness
Packing tissue thickness
Nut weight
Kernel weight
% kernel
Ease of kernel removal
Kernel colour
Each year researchers, farm advisers, growers and nurserymen review the evaluations and
make selections. Priorities vary: participants from the north most want low blight scores, while
those from the south want early harvest dates. Since this translates into late leafing for the
north and early leafing for the south, this means that varieties are likely to be released for
specific areas.
Selections are made on at least two years complete data. Seedlings that are selected are
repropagated into three 'Selection blocks' and evaluations continue. At any time, growers may
establish grower trials under test agreement. These trials range from one or two trees of a few
selections to acres of highly promising selections planted in randomised complete block designs
for effective evaluation of traits especially yield. Grower trials are essential for evaluating field
performance under standard cultural practices.
Superior selections are patented and released. They are available to Californian growers only
for the first 5 years, after which they are available internationally. Tulare, a very high yielding
variety with satisfactory quality kernels, was released 11 years ago, 27 years from seed. New
releases which are just beginning the 5 year restricted sales period are Li vermore (red seed
coat for niche markets), Sexton, Gillet and Forde (these latter 3 are high yielding, precocious,
with excellent quality large nuts and a harvest date prior to Chandler),
Rootstock research is developing slowly, partly because they are difficult to study (being mostly
underground), and because clonal propagation (tissue culture) has only just become
commercialised. The Californian approach is aimed at developing a rootstock combing
tolerance to blackline disease (which causes a delayed graft failure after some years) with
vigour and disease resistance. Hybrids of many species are being screened including many
Paradox (a J.hindsii x J.regia cross) seedlings.
McGranaham, G: California walnut production and genetic improvement of walnut varieties and
rootstocks. NUCIS-Newsleller 14 (2007).
Almond: breeding for fruit quality
In almond, the physical traits of the shell and kernel have a special i nportance in the almond
industry because of the different steps usually involved in almond processing. Until recentl y the
qualiti es of the almond shell in particular were not really considered - but the shell plays an
important role in the harvesting and industrial processes.
Shell traits
Shell hardness is inversely related to shelling percentage and does not in itself have an
influence of the kernel quality. However, soft shelled cultivars (eg the main Californian cultivar ,
Nonpareil) possess such a soft shell that sometimes it is not sealed along the suture line,
leaving an entry point for dust, insects and fungi. The proiblem worsens when nuts are
harvested from the ground and can be easily contaminated. Soft shelled almonds are more
susceptible top i nsect damage, because larvae are able to get through a soft shell but not a
hard shel l. Soft shell ed almonds are also more susceptible to bird damage beore harvest.
Hard shelled cultivars are better at maintaining kernel quality, because the nuts store well in-
shell without going rancid. Most Mediterranean cultivars have hard shells, and generally use
different shelling equipment than the soft shelled types grown in California, Australia, Chi le and
South Africa.
Shell hardness is controll ed by one or two genes, the heritabil ity of the trait appears to be about
0.56 (ie 56% of offspring inherit the trait).
Another shell aspect not often considered is its structure. The shell is not completely solid, but
has holes and empty spaces inside (typically like the nut below on the right). The shells of
some cultivars appear like two concentric layers united by very fragile internal connections -
characterised in the French variety Ferragnes (as in the nut on the left below) . It is considered
a negative trait because it ' causes problems with commercial nut cracking. The heritability of
this trait is low - 0.37 - so it is easily selected out during breeding trials.
Kernel traits
Kernel size is imprtnat, since large sizes are especially valued. Of course, it varies from year to
year, but in almond the variation is less than in most other fruit species'. Heritability is
estimated at 0.64.
The linear dimensions of the kernel - length, weight and thickness are also important traits.
Their heritabi lities are estimated at 0.77, 0.62 and 0.71 respectively - ie quite high. Largeness
is not always what is wanted - for some specific uses, such as sugar-coated almonds, a small
and specifically sized kernel is preferred.
Kernel shape is maintained as a cultivar trait, and is mainly determined by the length to width
ratio (LlW) but also by length/thickness (LIT) and width/thickness (W/T) ratios. LfW and LIT
show higher heritabiltiy than WIT. Kernel shape, as well as size, is related to the easiness of
The pellicle (seed coat) is preferred to be light coloured ans smooth, but especially thin, so that
weight losses at blanching are minimised. Sometimes, though, a thick pellicle is preferred
because of the ease of peeli ng after roasting. Seed coat colour shows a medium heritability
(0.42) but is highly inconsistent, showing strong environmental effects.
Other traits include the presence of double kernels (not clear how much this is under genetic
control), and a smooth kernel surface (preferred as it makes blanching easier).
Anson, J et al: Physical aspects of almond fruit quality. NUGIS-newsleUer, 14 (2007).
Hazelnut breeding in Oregon
The world's largest hazelnut breeding program begin in 1969 at Oregon State University, and
continues to be supported by state and government funding, as well as Oregon's hazelnut
Ii growers. Recent releases include Lewis, Clark, Sacajawea and Santiam and the pollinisers
Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta. More than 80 advanced selections are currently in yield trials,
and several new cultivar releases are anticipated in the next few years.
Ten cult ivars form the bulk of the breeding population, from Spain (Barcelona, Negret , Casina) ,
England (Daviana) , Italy (Gentile delle Langhe, Tonda Romana, Tonda di Giffoni, Montebello)
and Turkey (Extra Ghiaghli, Tombul Ghiaghli). Another 40 cultivars have been used as parents
to a lesser extent. Most crosses are now between numbered selections rather then between
cultivars, and an 8 year cycle (seed to seed) allows for continuing improvement.
The two main objectives of the breeding program are
(1) Suitability for the blanched kernel market, reflecting a growing demand. Suitability
includes resistance to bud mite, round nut shape, high kernel percentage, precocity,
high yield, easy pellicle removal (blanching), few defects, early nut maturity, and free-
falling nuts. Good progress has been made on most of these.
(2) Resistance to eastern filbert blight (EFB), caused by the fungus Anisogramma
anomala, which is firmly established in the main growing area in Oregon, the
Willamette Valley. Several sources of resistance have been identified and used in
breeding. The cultivar Santiam and many advanced selections carry complete
resistance obtained from the cultivar Gasaway. Several other sources of complete
resistance have been identified from Spain and the Republic of Georgia. Resistance
from Russian and Serbian cultivars is being investigated. Quantification of EFB
susceptibility has allowed ranking of cultivars and the identification of moderate
resistance. Moderately high levels of resistance have been identified in cultivars from
Italy (Tonda di Giffoni, Mortella, Camponica), Spain (Segorbe, Closca Malia) and
It has been a challenge to combine excellent blanching with EFB resistance, as Gasaway (the
first cultivar used to breed in resistance) has kernels which do not blanch and pellicle removal
ratings of seedlings tend to be worse than the average of their parents.
OSU releases Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea have moderate EFB resistance, which is adequate
for continued nut production in the presence of EFB if combined with pruning and fungicide
applications. Oregon growers, though, are eager for the release of cultivars with complete
New cultivars
Lewis - released in 1997 and has been widely planted. It is precocious, productive and an
easy to grow vigorous tree. ,Kernel cracks out at 47%, with good blanching. Drawbacks are the
extended harvesting period, and an apparent susceptibility to kernel mold.
Clark - released in 1999. Trees are precocious,
productive, low in vigour. Kernels crack out at 51 %
with very good blanching and kernel quality:
Sacajawea - released in 2006. Trees are
moderately vigorous and productive but less
precocious than Lewis or Clark. Kernels crack out
at 52%, excellent blanching and quality. High
resistance to EFB.
Santiam - released in 2005. The first cultivar that
carries the Gasaway gene for complete resistance
to EFB. Kernels crack out at 51%, but kernel mold
susceptibility can reduce the quality. Santiam is
viewed as a transition cultivar, as advanced
selections now in trials have higher kernel quality.
Ongoing trials
Hazel ' Lewis'
More than 80 selections are in replicated yield trials, with grower interest focussed on two
selections than combine complete EFB resistance with large nuts suitable to the in-shell market.
Page 22
Micropropagation is now routinely used to propagate new cultivar and advanced selections.
Demand for the new releases has been high.
The European hazelnut is a tremendously diverse species, and traditional breeding methods
can meet all of the current objectives. Most important traits are highly heritable, so the
progress made with each generation of selection is dramatic.
Azerenko, A et al: Hazelnut culUvar 'Lewis' . OSU extension service note EM 8640, 2002.
Mehlenbacher, A: Hazelnut breeding, an update from Oregon. NUC1S-Newsletter, 14 (20D7).
Deer and Rabbits
As spring unfolds, this is the time when damage from the two most common browsing pests,
deer and rabbits, starts to be noticed, especially when fences are getting old and gappy or
when protection of winter plantings has not been 100%.
Six species of deer live wild in the UK now, with numbers and ranges increasing along with
damage to trees and other plants.
Red deer are one of the largest , standing over 1.2 m at the shoulder. They have a reddish-
brown coat and are native to the UK.
Fallow deer were introduced into the UK by the Normans. These traditional park deer are
smaller than red deer, at 1 m. They usually have a bright chestnut coat with white spots in the
summer, but it can also be creamy white or black.
Sika deer were introduced from Japan in the 1860's. Up to 85 cm high, they have bright brown
coats. They are currently proliferating in Scotland.
Roe deer, also native, are around 75 cm high, with a foxy-red summer coat , large ears and a
thick neck.
Muntjac deer, introduced from China in the early 1900's, are bright brown and up to 50 cm high
with short , incurved antlers. They are found mainly in the south of England.
Chinese water deer, also introduced, are about 60 cm high with a brown coat and no antlers.
Only found in small pockets so far, but is spreading in eastern England.
Damage caused
Rabbits can cause a lot of damage, killing trees and shrubs by gnawing at the bark and
browsing on germinating seeds and newly planted perennials. The are a big problem both in
rural areas and in the outskirts of towns. Rabbits are formidable breeders, and females can
give birth at 4-6 months of age and may have up to five litters per year, each of four or more
young. Breeding takes place from January to August.
Deer live mainly in woodland, where they naturally feed on fOliage and shoots of shrubs and
trees. Planted woodland trees are immediately at risk. Increasingly deer are venturing into
gardens where they may damage vegetables, soft fruit and other plants. Late winter to spring is
the peak period for deer browsing damage, when food in woodlands is scarce. Damage to a
tree or shrub is typified by a ragged end to a shoot 90-180 cm high (depending on the deer

Red, sika and fallow deer also peel and eat bark, favouring (among trees) Norway spruce,
lodgepole pine, larch, ash, willow and beech. Muntjac damage coppice shoots by nipping
through the stem about a metre from the ground.
Deer also rub their antlers against woody stems - typically 1 to 3 cm in diameter - to remove
the velvet from newly grown antlers and to mark out their territory. This is known as fraying. It
may continue until late summer and causes strips of bark to peel off and side shoots to break
off. When deer strip bark, because they have no upper incisor teeth, they leave broad teeth
marks running up the peeled stem, with torn or broken bark hanging at the top.
The rabbit population goes up and down according to the season, weather and disease, with
numbers peaking after the breeding season ion late summer. Rabbits don't like wet and cold as
they originate from Spain and North Africa (they were introduced to Britain about 800 years
ago), and in winter their numbers can fall dramatically.
Myxamatosis wiped out 99% of rabbits when it was first introduced about 50 years ago in
Britain, but now the most deadly strains are extinct. They have been followed by lesser strains
that spare about 30% of rabbits. Also, rabbits seem to have become more resistant.
Myxamatosis is spread by -rabbit fleas and with warmer temperatures caused by greenhouse
gases, rabbits are spending more time above ground, so there are fewer opportunities for fleas
to spread in underground burrows. Another disease, rabbit calcivirus, is said to be present in
Britain but its effect on the wild population is unclear as yet.
Deer populations of all species are increasing, as are their ranges. In the absence of natural
controls, the obvious answer to unsustainable numbers is controlled culling.
Feeding traits
Rabbits prefer to feed at night , though in summer they can often be seen at dusk and dawn.
Favourite spots include the fringes of natural cover - a hedge or shrubbery. Deer (and hares)
nibble and gnaw higher up the plant than rabbits do. When rabbits are about , there will be little
scuffle marks in the soil and piles of round, pea-sized droppings.
Whilst deer are thought of as shy animals, they are becoming bolder and browse in daylight
hours quite happily. Deer are unpredictable and opportunistic feeders. They can feed on a
wide vari ety of plants, including thorny ones, and are especially fond of runner beans, beetroot ,
Ceanothus, Geraniums, grape hyacinth, ivy, hybrid roses, Sedum, strawberries, Viburnum tinus
and yew.
Deer droppings are short , cylindri cal to spherical and often have a small point at one end. They
have a smooth surface compared with rabbit droppings and are black when fresh.
Deterrents against rabbits do not seem very effective. Protecting plants w i t ~ prickly twigs and
leaves has some effect.
Deer repellents both commercially available and homespun (eg. human hair) do have some
effectiveness, but this is greatly reduced by rain, so must be applied around or on plants often.
Trapping & shooting
Rabbits inside a fenced area can be trapped fairly easily. Use a live capture trap - baits to try
include fresh leaf vegetables (but they wilt so need replacing often) or sliced carrots - organic
ones seem more effective than non-organic. Site traps in hedges or under shrubs where
damage has been observed. Check traps at least once a day. If a rabbit is caught , you should
not release it on someone else's land. The easiest method of dispatch is by air rifle. If you are
a meat eater you can then skin and butcher the animal. Rabbit skins are quite easily tanned
using alum.
Ferrets can also be used to get rid of many rabbits.
Deer can be controlled by shooting but you' ll need a high velocity rifle and a licence.
Individual trees and shrubs can easily be protected from rabbits by usin,9 60 cm tree guards,
either spiral guards, net guards or tubes. Fencing trees from deer requires 1.2 to 1.5 m high
guards, either net guards or tubes.
The ideal way to keep rabbits out of a garden or field is by fencing. Use 25 or 31 mm mesh
netting, ideally use a roll 1.2 m wide. Fencing stakes should be about 3 m apart. Fold the
lower 20-25 cm outwards and weigh down with stones or peg down with wooden pegs or metal
staples; grass etc will soon grow over this horizontal piece and make it invisible. A single
strand of fencing wire above the top of the fence can be used to keep the netting taut, as
inevitably it starts to sag in time. Rabbits which encounter a fence usually try and dig under it
right next to it , in which case they will soon hit wire and give up.
Electric netting can be used to keep out rabbits but entails quite a lot of maintenance. The
lowest electrified strand is usually 10 cm from the ground and it only needs a weed to grow this
high and touch the netting to short it out.
Traditional permanent deer fencing is an expensive option: the fence needs to be at least 2 m
high (2.4 m for red deer). As reported in Agroforestry News, Vol 15 No 1, a cheaper option is to
use a metre high netting and then make an ad hoc top section of fence using twiggy sticks and
highly visible line zig zagging ebtween. Electric fencing is another option. Either way, regular
inspections are needed in case deer have broken through. Digging a ditch on the far side of the
fence will help to deter them.
Resistant plants
No plants are 100% resistant to a high population density of rabbits or deer. However, at
' normal' densities, many plants are more or less untouched. These include most strongly
aromatic herbs, and most prickly or spiny plants, for example. The following list (compiled from
several sources) details plants which are usually left unbrowsed:
Species Deer resistant Rabbit resistant
./ ./
Achillea ./

./ ./
Alchemi ll a ./ ./
Allium ./ ./
Anemone ./
Angelica ./ ./
Apium ./
AQuileaia ./
Artemesia ./
Asclepias ./ ./
Aucuba japonica ./
Bamboos ./ ./
Begonia ./
Berberi s ./ ./
Buddle'a ./
Bunias oriental is
./ ./
./ il tall
./ ./
Cephalotaxus ./ ./
Chenopodium ./ ./
Choisya ternata ./ ./
Clavtonia sibirica
./ ./
Clemati s
Colchi cum
Convall aria
./ ./
./ ./
Cryptomeria japonica
./ ./
Daphne ./ ./
Del hinium ./
Deutzia ./
./ ./
Duchesnea ./ ./
Echinacea ./
./ ./
Page 26
Species Deer resistant Rabbit resistant
,f ,f
Fra aria
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
./ not H.ni er
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
lI ex
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
,f ,f
Philadel hus
,f ,f
Species Deer resistant Rabbit resistant
./ ./
./ ./
./ ./
./ ./
./ ./
Rubus roundcover
./ ./
Rubus fruti cosus
./ ./
Rubus idaeus
./ ./
./ ./
Santolina ./
Smyrnium ./ ./
./ ./
./ ./
Tanacetum partheniuml
./ ./
Vicia taba
./ ./
./ ./
Ostrich fern: Matteuccia struthiopteris
Of the few fern species that are edible, the fiddlehead of the ostrich fern is one of the most
widely consumed, particularly in North America and Japan. The curled fiddlehead fronds that
emerge in April and May in many areas are the first fresh spring vegetable. The annual
commercial harvest is essentially still a cottage industry, and labour intensive.
Fiddleheads emerging (from Dragland & Odland)
Page 29
Matteuccia struthiopteris is found worldwide as native or naturalised flora throughout the north
temperate sub-boreal zone of the northern hemisphere is particular - including North America,
northern and central Europe, Russia, China and Japan. Though not considered native to
Britain, it grows well here too.
The fern produces larger, sterile fronds in the early season, with smaller, fertile fronds
appeating later on ~ h i c h will produce spores. The curled fiddleheads begin to swell in late April
in Eastern Canada, and harvest commences soon after. By mid June, the sterile frond is fully
grown, and fertile fronds appear from late June until the autumn. Fronds are killed by the first
fronts and become brown but do readily fall off and stay attached to the crown all winter.
Distribution of Matteuccia struthiopteris (from Odland)
Historical use
In North America, many eastern native peoples have historically consumed the ostrich fern.
The Malecite Indians of the St John valley used fiddle head greens as a spring tonic, while the
Abenaki of New England roasted the entire crown over a bed of hot stones, covering it with
branches; The Passamoquoddy and Penoboscot Indians of Maine also harvested, consumed
and sold ostrich fern greens.
Although the ostrich fern is native to Europe and Asia, the first records of Europeans consuming
fiddle heads was in the 1780's following emigration to North America. Coloni sts in Eastern
Canada were unprepared for winter conditions and relished fiddle heads as a spring green.
Nowadays, fiddle heads greens are consumed as a spri ng vegetable especially in eastern
Canada and New England.
Growth and cultivation
Matteuccia naturally thrives on alluvial floodplains, where recedir
river waters deposit nutrient-rich sediments each spring. In t h e ~
regions, with high water tables and high moisture availability, tt
ostrich fern flourishes, and plants are usually found close to It
water's edge near rivers and streams. These areas also tend
moderate extremes of air movement , temperature, wind ar
Ostrich fern can tolerate full sun, as long as soil moisture
abundant; but it is more often found in shade and tolerates qui
deep shade. Soil pH is not a limiting factor. Plants can spread t
rhizomes, and propagation is usually by division or by spa
propagation; plant at 60- t 20 em (2-4 tt) apart
Although the harvest season is short, for the rest of the year t ~
ostrich fern is a magnificent ornamental plant, which is usually 71
150 em 2 - 5 tt) tall but can reach 1.8 m (6 ft) high where it
happy. For moist shady places they are a very good candidate f'
edible landscaping.
There have been a few attempts to establish the ostrich fern as
horticultural crop, however these have not been pursued,
since access to wild populations at no costs to the harvesters remains more economical than
incurring the expense of establishing new plantations and waiting 4-5 years for the first harvest.
However, one company in Ontario has recently established a levee-type flood system for
cultivating ostrich fern and has planted 160,000 fern
crowns in 2006-7. They have propagated ostrich ferns
by tissue culture techniques - the small plants
resulting need 4-5 years of growth before they can
sustain annual harvests.
The total crop annual crop in North America is in the
order of 1000 tonnes of fiddleheads, most of which are
sold fresh through grocery stores. A smaller quantity is
canned and frozen.
In Japan, the fiddleheads are known as komogi, and
are a popular wild harvest crop.
Pick fiddleheads when they are still tightly curled in the
crown of the fern, and up to about 5-6 cm (2.5 inches)
tall - nigger than this and they rapidly become tough
and unpalatable.
Culinary use
The popularity of the fiddlehead lies with its delicate
unique taste, which has been likened to the quality of
asparagus and artichoke, with some of broccoli's brute
strength. It does not have the asparagus tendency
towards a mushy texture after cooking. Rub off any dry
brown coat that some fiddleheads have, rinse and then
cook. The basic rule-at-thumb in preparation is
Page 31
to ensure the greens are boiled or steamed for the correct length of time until tender with a fork
- about 15 minutes.
Many recipes abound, but many enthusiasts would agree that the best way to enjoy the
fiddleheads is to slather boiled fiddlehead greens in butter (or equivalent) with trout or salmon.
In general, fiddle heads can be used in recipes as one would use asparagus or broccoli.
The published data on nutritional composition of fiddleheads indicates that the greens are
nutritious, being particularly good sources of vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, minerals and
fibre. They are comparable to spinach and other vegetables. Content per 1 DOg portion is:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
2175-2709 mg
19.0-32.7 mg
4.07-5.57 mg
0.15 - 0.24 mg
361 mg
105 mg
34 mg
33 mg
Recent data has shown that the curled fronds are comparable to blueberries in phenolic
compounds and contain good levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although some ferns can be toxic (ego bracken fronds) , ostrich fern is regarded as safe. They
have long been eaten raw and cooked. Occasional gastrointestinal illness has been reported
following short lengths of cooking - though to be due to a heat-sensitive toxin not inactivated.
To be sure of safety, boil the fiddleheads for 10-15 minutes.
Other uses
In Norway, fiddleheads were used for making beer, while in Russia it was used as a tonic for
intestinal worms.
Ostrich fern is thought to be a silicon accumulator (rather like horsetail , Equisetum).
The A.R.T. should have ostrich fern plants available in autumn 2008. Many plant nurseries
which sell ornamental ferns will also have ostrich fern.
Delong, J & Prange, P: Fiddlehead Fronds: Nutrient Rich Delicacy. Chronica Horticulturae, Vol
48 No 1 (2008).
Odland, A: Sregnen strutseving, en lite nyttet grennsak i Norge. Naturen nr. 6:330-338. 1999.
Dragland, S & Odland, A (Bioforsk): Strutseving (Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Tod.). Tema, Vol
2 No 3 (2007).
Toensmeier, E: Perennial Vegetables. Chelsea Green, 2007.
A low cost nut sorting machine
A few years ago, Martin Crawford of the ART worked with a small engineering company in
Totnes to produce a low cost, power driven nut cracking machine, described previously in
Agroforestry News, Vol 13 No 3. This has been working well since, but the next obvious stage
of small scale nut processing equipment was a sorter which can sort the shells from the kernels.
The same engineering company helped build a nut sorting machine in 2007which this article
An air blown sorter is the type most often used commercially and looked fairly simple to build.
Although there were a few designs of nut sorters in the public domain, none really give vital
information in terms of what air flow is necessary to be able to blow shells away but not kernels.
So there was quite a lot of experimenting in terms of chamber dimensions, both cross sectional
area (which determines the air velocity) and height.
The design
The basic design is quite
simple. A fan blows air
through a chamber of
specific dimensions. The fan
must be centrifugal, not axial
- ie it does not have a
propeller, but instead has
straight blades that throw air
away from the blade tips.
This type of fan produces an
even airflow across the
whole width of the fan outlet ,
whereas an axial fan does
not and would lead to
problems of vortices etc. in
the separating chamber.
Our centrifugal fan is in fact
sold as a carpet drier and
can be found quite easily for
sale under that description.
It has three speed settings
and requires between 680
and 900 watts of power to
A mesh near the bottom of
the chamber is used to stop
nut parts falling into the fan.
The chamber itself has a
width of 240 mm and depth
of 125 mm. It has a curved
1l\ .... ""H> FIJIf' .r
1-1 ttl!
-:v FI.ll P
f"\ ... )C"
I...R-Oe-Q IN k6(L(:
Page 33
The nut sorter in action. Note large piece of
walnut shell just ejected. The lower flap is
visible as is the adjustable vent.
top part to eject shells. The distance from
mesh to the lowest part of the exit mouth is
880 mm. It is all made out of steel.
Cracked nuts - kernels and shell parts - are
loaded into the sorter through a hinged flap
midway up the back of the machine. These
immediately fall down onto the mesh to
await sorting. If too much material is loaded
then air will not flow past it properly and lift
it - the limit is about a kilo of material at a
The machine is switched on and if
necessary set to the correct speed. Shells
are steadily ejected from the top - our
machine is usually placed in a shed
doorway to eject straight outside. Sorting is
completed in about 20 seconds.
The machine is switched off and clear
kernels are then removed via the lower
hinged flap which is level with the mesh
inside the separating chamber.
An adjustable vent was added on the front
of the machine in case of nuts being sorted
which needed a lower chamber height , but
in fact this seems superfluous and has not
been used.
Efficiency of sorting is about 90-95%, ie 5-
10% of kernel parts are likely to be ejected
from a mixture. Hazelnuts, which tend to
crack more uniformly, are at the higher end
of the scale. Walnuts sort best if they are
double cracked - once on a normal cracking
setting for walnuts, then a second time on a
hazelnut setting. This second cracking is to
crack half walnut shells into smaller pieces
- it doesn't really break the kernels any out
smaller - because half shells do not separate
Hazelnuts get well sorted at the medium and high settings on our machine (fan air delivery of
130 m
/min and 150 m
/min respectively.) Walnuts only sort well on the higher setting. A fan
with higher air delivery will require a smaller cross sectional area of separation chamber and
vice versa.
Estimated total cost for a new built machine is about 1000. The fan it self is around 200 of
this. Costs of metal and labour account for the rest. Ours cost somewhat more because of all
the experimenting! Too much for a grower of one or two trees, but it could be well worth it for a
small commercial nut grower processing their own nuts
View into the lower part of the
separation chamber, through the
opened lower flap. The mesh is clearly
visible. The dimensions inside are 125
x 240 mm.
The centrifugal fan which powers the machine
Page 35
Roots of fruit & nut trees
Of the four major parts of a fruit tree - leaves, branches, fruit and roots - roots are the least
understood, mainly because they are difficult to study. Although we can't see them, roots
regulate growth and performance of fruit trees.
Rootsi af fruit and nut trees have five important functions:
(a) Uptake of water and nutrients from the soil
Roots take up water and nutrients from the soil in two main ways: (a) transpiration and (b)
pressure in the root due to osmosis.
The path that water and nutrients make from the soil to leaves and fruit starts in the roots with a
process called osmosis. The concentration of nutrients in the soil solution is higher than that in
the root cells. The high concentrated solution dilutes the cell 's low concentrated solution. Cell
membranes are selective in their permeability and let water with nutrients in, but not out ,
making osmosis work for the tree.
Soon after dawn each day, the stomata (tiny pores on the underside of green leaves) open, and
the leaves start to lose water to the atmosphere - transpiration. Transpiration gradually
increases during the day, reaches a peak in mid-afternoon, and then gradually decreases, then
stops at dusk when the stomata are fully closed. During transpiration, the leaves lose water
faster than the roots can take up water, so the water in the plant is under tension. This causes
water to move from the soi l, to the root, and up the tree in a continuous column. In a tree that is
rapidly transpiring, nutrients are taken up into the roots and up the tree by mass flow.
Root pressure
When soluble nutrients (salts or solutes) accumulate in roots , a positive pressure develops in
the roots , which then take up water by osmosis. However, root pressure disappears during the
day, as the water taken up by transpiration dilutes the soluble nutrients in the roots. So trees
take up more of their water by transpiration than by osmosis.
Every day in the growing season, most of the water taken up by roots is lost from green leaves
to the atmosphere by transpiration. This not only helps to cool the leaves, but also sets up a
potential gradient between soil and atmosphere. This potential gradient causes the water to be
sucked up from the soil and to move through the tree to the leaves. Most nutrients move
passively from the soil to the leaves in the transpiration stream, but some nutrients are actively
taken up by the roots.
An adequate source of nutrients in the soil is not enough to ensure that the tree has enough
nutrients for growth - the nutrients have to be available and to be taken up by the roots, ie they
need to be soluble and near to the roots. While there may be many nutrients in the soil , the
tree actually takes up little. Many of the pool of nutrients in the soil are not immediately
accessible to the tree because they are not in a readily available form.
Nutrients are found at three sources within the soil:
1 Cation exchange sites - that quantity of cations (eg. potassium, calcium, magnesium,
hydrogen) which can be held by the soil against leaching with water but which are still
2. In the soil organic matter - most not immediately available, but released over a long
3. In the soil solution - the most readily available nutrients. This is why a moist soil in
summer is important in the role of tree nutrition.
All tree roots form symbiotic relationships with certain fungi, called mycrorrhizal fungi. The
fungus grows with the fine tree roots - usually surrounding each fine root hair, sometimes even
entering into it , and extending away into the soil space with fungal strands called hyphae.
These hyphae are about one tenth the diameter of the smallest tree roots, hence they can
exploit the soil space much more effectively for nutrients. Nutrients are passed to the tree roots
and in return the tree furnishes the fungus with sugars. Mycorrhizae can extend much further
from a tree than the tree roots and thus make the effective area for tree nutrition much wider.
b) Roots store carbohydrates and nutrients for spring growth
During the growing season, fruit trees need carbohydrates for energy and to make new laves,
shoots and roots. Mature trees also need to make a lot of carbohydrates for fruit to grow. Even
a dormant tree needs carbohydrates to keep alive and to prepare for the next growing season.
Before bud burst , there are no green leaves to produce new carbohydrates, and the roots are
not taking up nutrients or water. So during dormancy, the tree must rely on carbohydrates and
nutrients that were produced or taken up during the previous growing season and stored mainly
in the roots , but also in the trunk and shoots.
In autumn, when the fruit has been harvested and the shoots have stopped growing (but the
leaves are still green), the tree prepares itself for the winter rest by first pumping up its roots
with a new lot of carbohydrates and nutrients. The tree needs sufficient of these to last through
to spring.
During budburst, the stored carbohydrates are changed from starch to soluble sugars and move
mainly to the part of the tree that is growing rapidl y. Even when the young leaves are producing
some carbohydrates from photosynthesis, the leaves continue to rely on some stored
carbohydrates. Leaves need to reach about 1/3 of their final size before they start to export
carbohydrates to other parts of the tree, but continue to import stored carbohydrates until the
leaves are bout V2 their fi nal size.
So about 80% of new growth in spring is due to stored carbohydrates and nutrients. For about
8 weeks after bud burst , the tree relies on these stores. After this, the tree starts to use
carbohydrates produced by the new fully grown leaves. As the soil temperature increases, the
roots become active and start to take up water with nutrients and so the cycle starts again.
During the growing season, if the leaves were damaged in any way (frost , wind, water stress,
heat stress, pests, diseases etc. ), again the tree would have to rely on stored carbohydrates for
continued growth.
In autumn, about 60% of the nitrogen in the leaves moves back into the roots, trunk and shoots.
The dropped leaves release the other 40% into the soil , where the nitrogen is mineralised and
becomes available to the tree (or other plants) in later years.
The role of roots as a nutrient store means that maintaining leaves i n a healthy green condition
in late autumn, for as long as possible, will maximise carbohydrates stored and thus also
maximi se tree resilience during the winter and the following year.
c) Roots can alter growth and cropping habits
In the wild, fruit trees grow from seed, but seedlings are never true to type - ie they are never
an exact copy of the tree the seed came from. The only way to keep a variety true to type is to
propagate in vegetatively , ie by cuttings, or more commonly, by grafting. So most fruit trees
consist of two parts: the scion grafted onto the rootstock.
The scion is most of the tree you see above ground and is the variety of fruit , ego Bramley' s
Seedli.ng apple or Victoria plum ..

Most of the rootstock is below ground with a small part above ground, so it provides all the roots
and a short part of the trunk below the graft. Some rootstocks modify the scion, ego by
decreasing the vigour (size) and increase precocity and yield efficiency - these are called
dwarfing or semi-drawing rootstocks. Others do not reduce vigour and are used to keep the
variety true to type, and perhaps to tolerate unfavourable soil conditions.
Through t heir effect on shoot growth and canopy density, rootstocks can also change the light
distribution within the canopy of trees, and so change the development of skin colour and sugar
content of the fruit. Rootstocks can also affect the requirements of the tree for winter chill. This
may be because the rootstock changes the time of bud break and flowering, which in turn affect
the size and ripening of fruit at harvest.
d) Roots produce plant hormones to regulate growth
Roots produce plant hormones and move them around the tree. Plant hormones are chemical
messengers that regulate growth of roots, shoots, fruit and leaves.
In spring, new root tips produce cytokini ns, which move upwards from the root tips through the
xylem to the tips of shoots and so break dormancy. When dormancy is broken and trees start to
grow, The new shoots and young leaves produce other plant hormones called auxins and
gibberell ins that cause cells !o enlarge and new cell s to grow.
Auxins move downwards by gravity from the shoot tips and young leaves through the phloem to
the roots and stimulate root growth. The tree conti nues top produce these three types of plant
hormones (cytokinins, auxins, gibberellins) and to move them around the plant when the roots,
shoots and leaves are active.
When the roots are under physical, heat or water stress, the mature leaves produce abscisic
acid. This plant hormone not only slows down or stops the production of cytokinins in the roots,
and auxins and gibberellins, but also controls the opening and closing of stomata in the leaves,
which in turn controls photosynthesis and production of carbohydrates. Altogether, abscisic
acid slows down or stops growth of roots and shoots, and triggers leaves to drop off in autumn,
and buds to go dormant over winter .
e) Roots provide anchorage
Feeder roots are weak structures with little or no capaci ty for helping anchorage. If these
feeding roots are to function efficiently, they must be allowed to develop undisturbed in the soi l.
TO enable this, larger roots with more strength are developed, whose main function are to
anchor the tree. They may also playa small part in the uptake of water and nutrients.
When allowed to sway or rock in the wind, a tree grows a thick trunk at the base to strengthen
itself, at the expense of extension growth. The movement and vibrati on caused by wind create
minute stress or damage to cells walls and trunk I shank tissue. Thi s triggers the wound and
healing process in the tree by producing ethylene. Cell wall s in the trunk are strengthened and
additional cell s develop, which result s in a thicker trunk at the base.
The formation of a large root system must come before cropping, because the tree must
eventually carry crops unsupported. Free standing trees are thus often grown on semi-vigorous
or vigorous rootstocks and do not reach full cropping until they are 7-12 years old.
Recent research has shown that the major users of carbohydrates are structural wood, large
roots and fruit. In dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, the need for structural wood has been minimised
so that more carbohydrates can be used for fruit growth - this is usually achieved by supporting
trees with stakes.
Supported trees grow with thinner trunks, and yield more than free-standing trees, hence the
present day popularity of commercial dwarf fruit tree orchards.
Ende, B: Why you should know more about the roots of your deciduous nut trees. Australian
Nutgrower, Vol 22 No 1 (March 2008. )
Book reviews
Perennial Vegetables
Eric Toensmeier
Chelsea Green, 2007; 24 t pp; 22.50.
ISBN 978-t -93t 498-40-1
Available from the A.R.T. for 27.00 including P & P.
Most gardeners or growers who are thinking about more
sustainable ways of growing crops think at some point "yes,
perennial vegetables are good idea, but what can I actually
grow?" Well , this book will give at least some of the answers.
Ranging from the usual suspects (asparagus, rhubarb and
artichoke) to lesser known plants such as ground cherry, air
potatoes, the fragrant spring tree, and wolfberry (goji berry),
Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest and cook with
perennial plants to their best effect.
PERE:-.ir--.:I.\L \ EGL IAULES
The first part of the book deals with design ideas, selecting species and techniques, notably
mulching and deali ng with pests. The main part of the book consists of species profiles for the
100 or so plants described; each is given a page or more and includes climate, preferences for
soil , pest disease and weed problems, propagation and planting, harvest , storage and uses.
Perennial vegetables includes dozens of colour photos and illustrations. Many of the
illustrations are distribution maps of where the plants can be grown in North America, and for
European gardeners this is an indication that the book is very much aimed at the North
Ameri can gardener. Perhaps half of the plants described are subtropical or tropical and could
not be grown outside in most of Britain. Nevertheless, this is a useful addition to the bookshelf
of all forest gardeners, edible landscapers and growers wishing to know more about growing
more sustainable perennial crops.
Th,e Encyclopedia of Fruit & Nuts
Jutes Janick & Robert Paull (Eds)
CABI Publishing, 2008; 900 pp; 195.00.
ISBN 978-0-85199-638-7.
This encyclopedia is an authoritative compendium of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fruit
and nut science, combining the knowledge of over 100 international experts, providing an
excellent resource on fruit and nuts. Incorporating both botanical and horticultural expertise, it
includes palms, cacti and vegetable fruit.
For each species details are given on history and origins, botany, breeding and genetics,
cultivars, ecology, distribution, nutritional and compositional information, and uses. Entries are
grouped alphabetically by genus, then by species. 83 Colour plates illustrate a selection of
species, and good quality drawings many of the others.
Some of the entries for the lesser known species are not as complete as they could be - for
example under Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive) it is stated that there are 2 cultivars
whereas even in 2003 (when much of the book was compiled) there were several more in the
USA. It appears that the authors have consulted scientific papers but have often missed
horticultural references with respect to minor crops.
This is a major reference work of great use to those engaged in botany, horticulture and plant
ecology - I shall certainly Keep it handy on my bookshelf.
2008 Summer & autumn courses with Martin Crawford of the ART
Forest Gardening, August 16_17th. Learn how to design, implement and maintain your own
forest garden. Includes lots of time in the ART forest garden.
Forest Gardening, September 6-7.
Crops for Climate Change, 27-28 September. Find out how tree and shrub crops in particular
are already responding to climate change and how they will change over the next few decades.
Vital information if you are planning or planting tree crops!
Growing Nut Crops, 11-12 October. Covers all aspects of growing and processing both
common nuts - chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts - and many uncommon nuts too, including
almonds, heartnuts, oaks with edible nuts and pine nuts. Nuts of many different varieties will be
available to taste.
For more details of any of these please check our website, www.aqroforestry.co. uk, or
write/phone for more details.
A.R.T. , 46 Hun1ers Moon, Darling1on, To1nes, Devon, T09 6JT, UK. Tel: 01803 840776.
, '0
'- . tFfJl -0: ' trk' integl ation ot trees i:l i'l(J agfl( .. rlorti -,tI: tl ll"e tv .;:.
'11/.': ;;--', J,-,rr .. ,d>lctive and resilient system for pfcduGing fo(}rJ , (j r,-.ller ,.r.l
t,ihGi 1)(odlJds It can t811ge from planting tree5 in pastures
r:; mp.rgenGY forage. to forest garde;1 sy'Stems incorpOf zlling layer'3 ;",
::.:nti smull trues. shru:,s and ground :ayers in 3
;jod pr0(jqcti'.. .. e sYstem.
"'g",forestry News is puolished by the Agrofofestry Research Trllst four times a
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Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk. Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk.
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Agroforestry News
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- ' Global

Climate change and
Volume 16 Number 4
August 2008
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 16 Number 4 August 2008
2 News: Bamboo Bridge / MRSA and honey / Malaria
and Artemisia
3 Climate change: agricultural dimensions
6 Likely climate changes in Britain
11 Plant and soil responses to climate change
17 Climate impacts on pests
18 Climate impacts on diseases
19 Farming methods and gas emissions
22 Suggested responses to climate change
35 Irrigation methods
39 Book reviews: Hedgerow Medicine / Natural
Beekeeping / Agroforesterie
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes. Devon. Tag 6JT. U.K. Fax & telephone: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.oo.uk Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
Bamboo bridge spans the River Tyne
The Tyne has another bridge, this time made out of bamboo. The 100m span structure
has been built by Australian firm Bambuca to mark the beginning of the Summer Tyne festival.
It is supported on 25m towers and was being hand built by riggers who manually pieced the
structure together using 20 lennes of bamboo.
Engineering consultant Faber Maunsell used 3D analytical software to develop the design and
ensure that it is compliant with UK standards. John Longthorne, director at Faber Maunsell,
said: River Tyne is famous for its bridges, each a feat of engineering in its own right.
Bambuca's bamboo bridge carries on that tradition, being the first suspension bridge across the
lower reaches of the Tyne and an interesting counterpoint to the parabolic arches of the
adjacent Millennium and Tyne bridges."
When the bridge is dismantled the bamboo will be reused.
Source: Building.co.uk, UK, 16 July 2008
www.building.co. uk/story.asp?sectioncode=284&storycode=3118413&c=0
Honey: Battling MRSA with Manuka Honey
With predictions of MRSA killing more people in the future than AIDS, medical professionals
turn to the use of an old remedy: honey.
MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) is an antibiotic-resistant bacterium that
causes life-threatening infections. A MRSA, infection can become fatal if entered into the
bloodstream which is why it is imperative to treat this condition immediately. MRSA treatment
doesn't have to be as difficult as some people think. Even though antibiotics have become
ineffective in treating these types of Staph infections, a particular type of honey, known as
Manuka Honey is extremely effective.
MRSA Staph infections can be healed efficiently and quickly with the use of bio-active Manuka
honey-based dressings. Studies have shown that the MRSA superbug cannot develop a
resistance to this honey because Manuka Honey has an osmotic effect that draws moisture out
of the bacterial cells, making it impossible for the MRSA bacteria to survive.
Manuka honey-based MRSA treatments are becoming available to hospitals and individuals
worldwide as word of its effectiveness becomes mainstreamed. With reports of Manuka Honey
acting as a natural cure for MRSA, antibiotics will most definitely be used less, especially since
MRSA drugs usually prove to be useless. To date, there have been no reports of any bacteria
being able to develop a resistance to Manuka Honey which is bringing new hope in the area of
infection control.
Source: PR-Inside.com (Pressemitteilung). Austria, 30 June 2008
http://www. pr-inside.com/battling-lhe-mrsa-superbug-with-manuka-r67S788.htm
Page 2
Medicinal plants: Scientists in malaria battle
Scientists at the University of York are working to make vital malaria drugs cheaper and more
accessible to patients in developing countries by improving yields of one of the world' s most
important medicinal plants, the aromatic herb Artemisia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends artemisinin combination therapies
(ACTS) as the most effective malaria treatment. However, artemisinin is extracted from the
aromatic herb Artemisia and the plant only produces tiny amounts, making ACTs too expensive
for many in need.
The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York is using the latest molecular
and genetic technologies to fast-track the plant breeding of Artemisia and increase yields.
Professor Dianna Bowles, one of the project leaders, said: "Our aim is to rapidly develop high-
yielding, non-GM varieties of Artemisia that will help reduce costs and secure supplies of this
anti-malarial medicine.
Source: York Press, UK. 1 July 2008
www.thepress.co.uk/newsf3187631.Scientists in malaria battlel
Climate change: agricultural dimensions
The main greenhouse gases caused by humans are:
Carbon dioxide (CO,,) - from the burning of fossil fuels etc. 100 yr lifetime in atmosphere.
Nitrous oxide - from wood burning, ammonia based fertilisers, industry, motor transport. 300
times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO
. 120 year lifetime in atmosphere.
Methane - from agriculture, natural gas pipe leaks, landfill sites, coal mining. 21 times more
powerful greenhouse gas than CO
. 12 yr lifetime in atmosphere.
CFC's - production now mainly phased out due to hole in ozone layer, but long lived in
Agriculture worldwide is directly responsible for about 13% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The sources of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture divide almost evenly into three:
1. Rice cultivation causes methane release in anaerobic conditions when fields are flooded (as
wil l traditional cranberry and basket willow flood-cultivation methods) About a third of the
world's population depend on rice as a staple crop. Changing this will be very difficult.
A full listing of references for these climate change articles will appear next issue
o.t ....... toU'.n I lord ... c,,"_
Sources of emission by type. Source: Dow & Dowding (2006)
2. Chemical fertilisers are responsible for a substantial release of nitrogen dioxide; organic
manures also contribute to a smaller degree. Organic farms usually have a lower carbon
footprint in total but lower yields may mean there is sometimes little difference in greenhouse
gas emissions per ton of crop.
3. Ruminant digestion causes large amounts of methane to be ' burped' (7 kg per year by a
sheep, 70 kg a year by a cow).
There are enormous numbers of ruminant s worldwide - around 1.4 billion cattle, the total body
mass of which exceeds that of the human race. The carbon dioxide from respiration is roughly
balanced out by the accumulation of carbon in the animal body (until it is eaten etc.) The real
problem is methane.
The methane 'burbed' during ruminant digestion in cattle (70 kgfyear per animal) is equivalent
to 1.5 tonnes CO
- a similar amount to driving a car 4000 miles.
Agricultural sources of greenhouse gases
Although technical 'fixes' are being mooted to
reduce the methane production from
ruminants, the reductions would most likely
be 10-20%.
Ruminants are not bad per 58, it is just that
the planet cannot cope with the sheer
numbers. They have to be accounted for at
some level, whether it be farm, region or
country. On a farm scale in the UK, to
carbon-neutral ise the emisisons from cattie,
about :x of an acre of actively growing
woodland would be needed per animal.
Interestingly. mowing by machine once a
month produces 10-20% of the greenhouse
gas emissions of using ruminants to graze the
same area. Of course, there is no yield when
mowing as opposed to grazing; and mowing
uses oil-based fuels; nevertheless from a
greenhouse gas emissions perspective,
mowing is less polluting.
Ruminant emissions vs mowing
1 acre requires approx. 3.75 litres diesel per
mowing, emitting 10 kg CO, (2.68 kg/litre)
ego 8 mowings in a year - 80 kg CO
Plus 10 kg per mowing contribution from CO
emitted during production of mower (assumes
350 kg total emissions = 50% that of an
average car, and a 5 year life)
Gives a total emissions per mowing of 90 kg
1 acre requires around 3 sheep or 0.5 cows to
graze down.
3 sheep - emit equivalent of 450 kg CO
0.5 cows - emit equivalent of 750 kg C0
Page 37
Likely climate changes in Britain
There is an overload of informati on in the media about what might happen to the climate in the
future, with lots of conflicting information. Ultimately. all this achieves is confusion and inaction.
Part of the problem is that the climate scenarios produced by bodies such as the IPee are
based on various different scenarios of economic growth, energy use etc. Much more useful , I
think, is a climate change scenario of what is most likel y to happen, and that is what is
produced below.
In the UK we have already experienced significant temperature warming over the last 50 years.
The following map shows how mean temperatures have increased from 1961 to 2006. It shows
most of England has increases of around 1.5C, with Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland a
little less.
1961 to 2006
change (deg C)
D 0.4-0.6
0.6 -1 .0
_ 1.0-1.4
_ 1.8-2.1
Met Office. Taken
from: UKCIP08: The
climate of the UK and
1.5 recent trends. With
1.4 permission.
L-__ ________________ ~ = = = - __
Page 66
The temperature increases in Britain are well above average global rises because of our proximity to the
pole (they are even higher in Scandinavia, for example).
1C or 2C may sound a small amount - I'm sure thi s is one reason many people pay scant attention to
warnings about global yo'arming - but it equates to a southwards shift of 100-250 km. The climate of
southern England now is that of mid west France 40 years ago.
Li kely temperature changes to 2050
Below is an optimistic scenario of how temperatures will change up to 2050. It assumes that
there will not be global emissions reductions until after 2020, but there are serious reductions
thereafter; the 30-40 years delay (lag) of greenhouse gas ri ses unt il observed warming means
that little slowing of temperature rise will be noticeable until after 2050.
A doubting of the CO
-equivalent concentrati on from pre-industrial is expected around 2050 or
just after, wi th CO
-equivalent levels of 560 ppm.


-UK (SE)

1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050
Sources: IPCC (2007). UKCIP (2008). Hadley Centre
NB temperature ri se is measured as compared with pre-industrial
Temperature rises are greater the nearer to the pol es, hence the expected UK rise is greater
than the global average.
These graphs rise more steeply than recent UKCIP and IPec scenarios , as these scenarios do
not take account of feedbacks from the carbon cycle and atmospheri c chemistry (which will be
used in the IPCC 2012 report but are not completed yet). These add approaching 1 C of
warming by 2050 in addition to the older models.
This climate scenario would equate to climate shifts which are approximately equivalent to the
following geographic shift of the UK by 2050:
Approximate current climate shift in 2050
As can be seen, by 2050 the cl imate of southern England will be similar that that of
southwestern France; mid UK to mid west France, northern England to Northwestern France;
and Scotland to the southern half of England and Wales. '
The UK climate is currently shifting southwards by 68 km per year (the higher in the south of
England) - equivalent to a shift in altitude upwards of about 10-14 metres per year.
July 2006 was the hottest on record in the UK (the hottest for over 300 years) . In fact , average
UK temperatures were about 3C warmer than on average - very similar to the average
expected by 2050. A hot summer then would be 3C warmer still!
Other likely climate changes in the UK
Overall little change in annual totals.
Drier in summer (30% less in southeast). wetter in winter.
More intense rain events and flooding.
Diurnal effects
Nights will warm more then days in winter.
Days will warm more than nights in summer.
Relative humidity
Decreases throughout the year, more in summer than winter.
Cloud cover
Decreases significantly in summer (thus solar radiation increases).
Slight increase in winter.
Overall little change in average wind speeds.
Stronger winds in southern and central Britain in winter.
More severe storms & extreme events.
Soil moisture
Soi l moisture levels are related to rainfall , temperatures, evaporation , wind s p ~ e d s and solar
All areas show a decrease in summer and autumn. up to 30-40% decrease in southeast
Winter soi l moisture levels likely to be similar to present (higher winter rainfall offset by higher
temperatures and evaporation etc.)
Sea levels
Continue to rise, by 20-60 cm by 2050.
Coastal flood risk increases significantly.
The gulf stream
Consensus is that this is unlikely to fail this century.
Some weakening expected - included in climate models.
By the time that failure is likel y, global warming will outweigh a drop in NW Europe

Thermal growing season length
Extends by 50-80 days by 2050.
The thermal growing season is the period of time each year during which plants can grow. The I
length of the thermal growing season is defined as the longest period within a year that satisfies T
the two requirements of: I
- beginning at the start of a period when dally-average temperature is greater than 5.5
C for five I
consecutive days, and
- ending on the day prior to the first subsequent period when daily-average temperature is less
than 5.S
C for five consecutive days.
The thermal definition of growing season length does not consider the impact of other climatic
variables (e.g. wind, precipitation, day length).
Global dimming & brightening
Solar radiation at ground level decreased in many world regions from 1950-1990 due to
pollution (total decrease about 4%).
Since 1990 this has reversed in most regions.
At Rothampstead in the UK there has been a slow rise in solar radiation since 1960:
'- .....
, , ,
.......... N ..... V

, , , ,
fb"v fb" fb'b !?I" !?Ib<
"ClS "ClS "ClS "OJ "OJ "OJ "OJ "OJ ,,0.; ,,0.; "ClS "ClS "ClS
Total solar radiation (J/cm
) measured at Rothampstead, Herts, UK

Risks and thresholds
As temperatures increase rapidly, links in ecosystems start to break. Plants, animals etc all
respond at different rates to the warming.
KDecoupJing- occurs when, for example, an expected vital food source is unavailable at the
critical time. These problems will gradually increase and are expected to become severe as
warming passes 2e (2015 to 2030 in UK).
As global temperature rise passes 2e (around 2040) there is an increasing but unknown risk of
sudden sharp increases in climate change as climate feedback mechanisms kick in.
At a global rise of 2.6 - 2.7 DC the Greenland ice sheet is committed to irreversible melting,
causing 6-7 m sea level rise over many centuries.
At a global rise of 3C the Amazon forests may die.
Positive feedbacks from these and other changes in the regulation system of the earth will
increase rates of change.
Peak oi l (the peaking of 011 production worldwide) will not necessarily have much effect on
greenhouse gas emissions as there are huge coal and coal tar deposits; if the price is right
(which it currently is), it is economic to make these into liquid fuels.
Plant and soil responses to climate
The fundamental process driving plant growth is photosynthesis, where the green tissues of
plants, mostly leaves, combine carbon dioxide from air & water from soil taken up by roots to
produce carbohydrates (sugars, starch, cell ulose), the basic buil ding materials of plants. The
process can be summarised as:
6 CO
+ 6 H
0 +energy from sunlight -Jo C
(glucose) + 6 O
Plants then combine the products of photosynthesis with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium etc
taken up from the soil in solution, to make proteins & other complex materials.
Plant growth is mainly controlled by:
Ught levels
Availability of carbon dioxide
Availability of water
Avai lability of nutrients in soil
Plant responses to increased carbon dioxide
If other factors (especially water availability) remain favourable, then increased CO
leads to
greater rates of photosynthesis and faster growth.
Initially plants can grow up to 40-50% faster, however, benefits at these rates are short term. "' I
Plants soon become acclimated, leading to accumulation of carbohydrates in leaves, resulting
in reduced photosynthetic rates. For woody plants and perennials, a 10-20% increase in the
long ter{" is more realistic.
Plant types which respond most include legumes and potentially naturally fast-growing
Flowering and fruiting is likely to be hastened, and fruit yields are likely to increase.
Increased CO
leads to less stomata open and thus less (and more efficient) water use
by the plant.
There is also a positive interaction between increased CO
and increased temperature
on plant growth.
However, benefits of increased CO
may largely be offset by dry/drought conditions
expected in UK summers.
Plant responses to increased temperature
Every plant species has its own characteristic response to temperature.
Above about SoC growth increases exponentially towards an optimum which varies widely from
plant to plant (usually reflecting the natural climate where it evolved).
Higher summer temperatures up to this optimum will favour plant growth if other factors are not
For the UK up to 2050, for most cultivated plants the optimum will not be surpassed.
Developmental rates (eg. the development of flowers, or from an active to dormant state)
increase fairly linearly with temperatures above a base level (about 5C for many species) .
The linear increase reaches an optimum at 20-25C, above which there is a linear decrease.
For perennial plants, onset of growth is usually advanced and cessation usually delayed.
Plant phenology
In the UK, tree flowering times have changed as a result of a PC rise by varying amounts:
Days advanced
Bird cherry Prunus adus 9.1
Almond (Prunus dulcis) 8.9
Lilac (Syringa vulaaris) 8.8
Hawthorn (Crataequs monoqyna 8.6
Laburnum (Lanagyroides) 7.9
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastaneum) 7.7

Davs advanced
Elder (Sambucus nigra) 6.5
Redcurrant (Ribes rubrum) 4.9
Horse chestnut Jeafinq Aesculus hiDlJocastaneum) 4.9
Hazel (Cory/us avellana) 4.1
The thermal growing season has al ready lengthened by about 20 days over the past 40 years.
It i s likely to continue increasi ng by 10-18 days per decade (higher in the southeast. lower in the
Most perennials (including trees) in the UK have annual growth CYCle,s wi th three phases:
1. A rest period: active growth has ceased, the plant appears inacti ve but in fact there is
high internal activity, with the plant producing flower and leaf initials in readiness for
rapid spring growth.
2. A period of quiescence: the plant now waits until temperatures are warm enough to
start acti ve growth.
3. An active growth period, eventually halted by a combination of shortening day lengths,
l ower light levels and cooler temperatures in autumn.
The rest and quiescent periods constitute the dormant period.
A peri od of low temperatures (most effective at OSOC) is required during the dormant
period before a plant can resume normal active growth. Chilling also reduces the response time
for bud burst in spring when temperatures warm.
If chilling is inadequate, the development andlor expansion of leaf and flower buds (and thus
fruiting) may be impaired.
Chilling requirements are usuall y measured as an accumulation of temperature below a
threshold (usually 7.2C) in "chilling Temperatures over 1SoC during this period can
negati vely affect the cumulative total of chi ll ing hours.
The number of chilling hours requi red varies widely between species and also between
Lowest chill req Highest chill req
Almond 50 100
Apple 800 1750
Apricot 300 1D00
BlackberrY., 350 600
Blackcurrant 1200 2500
Blueberry (hi hbush) 800 1250
Blueberry (southern) 200 400
Cherry (sour) 600 1500
Cherry (sweet
500 1450
Chestnut 300 100
Citrus 0 0
Fig 50 500
Hazelnut 850 1700
Gooseberry 800
Page 13
- Crop Lowest chill req chill reo
I __________________ __________ ___________
r-Kiwi fruit 600 c-
)Ii ve
Pear IAsian1
300 500
20( 700
10( 1800

600 1500
The number of chilling hours in the UK has already reduced by 10-20% (250-500 hours) since
Chilling hours are reducing as the climate warms up by about:
15 hours/year (150 hours/decade) in the south
11 hours/year (110 hours/decade) in the midlands
10 hours/year (100 hours/decade) in Scotland
So by 2050 the likely reduction of chilling hours (from 2007 levels) is 400-650 hours in total.
Already in mild winters there are signs of problems, eg in 2006/ 7:
Location Av chilling 1996-<006 Chilling 2006/7
St Mawgan, Cornwall 933 hrs 411 hrs
Greenwich 1065 hrs 500 hrs
Eastbourne 1143hrs 452 hrs
Oxford 1534 hrs 1149 hrs
Armagh 1623 hrs 1479 hrs
Cambridge 1637 hrs 812 hrs
Paisley 1716 hrs 881 hrs
Sheffield 1863 hrs 1374 hrs
Durham 2003 hrs 1669 hrs
Newton Rigg, Cumbria 2123hrs 1115 hrs
Braemar 2743 hrs 1018hrs
Winter of 2006/7, the warmest for many years, is likely to be near average by 2050.
Tree phenological responses to warming temperatures will very much depend on their chilling
requirement , eg:
Beech (Fagus sylvatica) has a large chilling requirement, and will accumulate less chilling (and
so less of a reduction in the response time for bud burst in spring) thus will leaf out even later.
Page 14
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) has a smaller chilling requirement, which will easily be met
during winter in future decades, hence it will leaf out earlier.
Fruit & nut tree species I cuJtivars with unmet chilling requirements are likely to become less
productive, ego already commercial blackcurrant growers are experiencing poor crops after mild
winters, caused by abnormal flower development.
CuJlivars selected I bred in parts of the UK over the past centuries tend to have chill
requirements near to the maximum chill available (to avoid early growthlflowering and
subsequent frost damage). (And similarly for other regions)
Likely chilling in 2050 is:
350-800 hours in southern England
900-1500 hours in mid England I Wales
1500-1800 hours in northern England
1800-2300 hours in Scotland
So in southern England, mid England and Wales especially, and warmer microclimates, we will
need to gradually switch to cultivars needing less chi lling. usually from a more southerly region
(notably western 'France) for many species , including: Apple. Blackcurrant , Blueberry, Cherry
(sweet and sour), Hazelnut , Gooseberry, Grape, Peach, Pear, Plum, Raspberry, Redcurrant,
Even so, some fruit crops, such as blackcurrants, in the south of the country may become
unviable, certainly on a commercial scale.
Frost susceptibility
There has been a steady decline in the number of damaging spring frosts over the last 30 years
in all parts of the UK. This decline is expected to continue.
Earlier leafing I flowering of plants should not lead to any increase in spring frost damage, and
a probable decease.
Clearer skies in autumn and delayed dormancy may lead to increased autumn frost damage in
some species.
It is likely to be the extreme climate conditions, rather than rising averages, that have the
biggest impacts on cultivated plants, ego drought conditions. temperatures in the 40Cs.
hurricane winds etc.
Day length issues
Day lengths will of course not change in the future.
In many annuals and herbaceous perennial plants, the onset of flowering is triggered by a
change in day length:
Some plants do not flower until the day length is shorter than a certain period, usually 12 hours
(short day plants). ego strawberry.
Others flower only when the day length exceeds a certain limit, usually 12 hours (l ong day
plants) - ego spinach. beetroot. radish.
Many vegetables are day neutral plants, with flowering not affected by day length, ego tomatoes.
Flowering in trees is not controlled by day length.
Some trees cease shoot growth (and bud set) when exposed to under 8 hours of daylight , which
can limit the north-south movement of species if they have not had enough summer heat by
Effec'ts of climate change on soils
Increasing soil temperatures will increase the rate of biological activity, leading to increased
breakdown of soil organic matter (humus) and loss of soil carbon, also increased release of
nitrogen for plant growth.
Soi l moisture content wi ll reduce significantly in summer, slowing the above processes
There is greater potential for nitrogen leaching losses from soils in autumn as growth slows.
Loss of organic matter results in loss of soil structure - more susceptible to wind and water
erosion, more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Soil carbon content in England and Wales fell by 14% between 1978 & 2003 across all types of
land use.
The increased rate of humus oxidation and nitrogen availability can only continue if they are
replaced by natural or cultivation processes.
Ught , freely drained soils will become increasingly difficult to manage due to organic matter
Soils under arable agriculture contain only 15-20% of the humus levels of soils under grass or
Action to safeguard soils
Maintain or improve soil organic matter content
Mulch with organic matter
Add I incorporate organic material
Maintain plant cover over soil in all seasons
Retain fallen leaf litter
On slopes consider contour planting, mounding, mole ploughing
Tree-based systems are more resilient and stable
Climate change impacts on water
Soils will become increasingly drier in summer and autumn, and irrigation will often become
necessary, especially in the southern half of the country. Young trees are especially vulnerable
- in 2006, many young trees died in the drought in the south east of the UK.
Mains water is likely to be unavailable in drought periods. Plan to store your own irrigation
water if possible, utilising winter rainfall to refill. Plan efficient irrigation methods.
Page 16
More intense rainfall will lead to higher rates of flash floods etc. Plan carefully near streams and
Fire hazards, especially in coniferous woodlands & windbreaks, will increase sharply.
Climate impacts on pests
Insects can respond to cl imate change more rapidly than plants.
Climate zones are moving north by about 70 km per decade (or upwards by 70-100 m per
Plant ranges are moving north by 6 km per decade (or upwards by 6 m per decade) with big
Insect ranges are moving north by 15-70 km per decade (large variation) and insect pests from
mainland Europe are moving north into Britain.
Bird ranges are moving north by 10 km per decade (with large variations.)
In a similar way, insect life cycles are beginning earlier in the season, with birds hatching only
slightly earlier.
This of timings between pests and predators will become an serious
problem both in ' natural ' ecosystems and in cultivated agro-ecosystems.
Eg. If the normal food source for a predator (be it a bird, ladybird, etc) is not present because it
hatched earlier and has already become a moth, for example, then the predator may find other
food, or experience a population crash. The knock-on effects of either could be serious.
We are heading for the situation where insects which have not been pests before could
suddenly and unpredictably become pests because of a predator population crash.
Other insect problems which will intensify are:
Some glasshouse pests, ego red spider mite, will become a serious problem outside (although
the biological controls used will also be used outside)
Pests which produce many generations in a season, ego aphids, spider mites, thrips, wi ll
become a bigger problem due to warmer winters (allowing adults to overwinter and advance the
appearance of adults by a month by 2030) and warmer growing seasons (allowing shorter
intervals between generations - a single extra generation increases the population by 10 to 14-
fol d)
Aphids in particular carry virus diseases and an increase in virus infections is expected
Increased sap cell concentration due to l ower soil moisture will aid sucking insects and mites
Pests controlled by winter col d may suddenl y flouri sh
Leaf eating pests may be slightly disadvantaged by the lower protein content of plants growing
in higher concentrations of CO

Mountain pine beetle
Example of an insect controlled by winter cold. In British Columbia in Canada, average winter
temperatures have increased by 2.5C. The mountain pine beetle, previously naturally
controlled by long cold winter spells, has become a serious problem in just 10-15 years due to
warming, and has killed 21 million acres (33,000 sq miles or about two thirds of England's area)
of lodgepole pine forest: damage continues at about 3000 sq miles per year (slightly more than
area of nevon).
Siberian moth
Siberia has experienced a 2e rise in the last 30 years. Two consecutive dry hot summers
trigger large outbreaks of tree-defoliating Siberian moths, and these are occurring more and
more frequently. They eat the needles of entire forest regions in one summer, killing the trees ,
which then succumb to forest fires.
Oak processionary moth
This moth of central and southern Europe defoliates oak trees (and other spp), sometimes
damaging forests significantly. It is also a health hazard via tiny irritating and toxic hairs via
touching or via inhaled wind*blown shed hairs (making infected oak woods no*go areas at some
times of the year). It has been steadity moving north as a result of cl imate change - now firmly
established in N.France & the Netherlands , has been found in Southern Sweden and since 2006
in the London area in England. Eradication efforts are under way but are unlikely to succeed for
Climate impacts on diseases
Warmer wetter winters witl:
Favour the spread of. diseases that need water to spread, such as the Phytophthora
species of mostly root-attacking fungi.
Favour a wide range of bark and wood invading fungi which are able to overcome tree
defences during dormancy
Atlow greater survival of overwintering diseased material and disease inoculum
(spores or fungi), thus allowing a more rapid onset and spread of disease as the
growing season begins in spring.
Drier warmer summers witl:
Favour diseases such as powdery mildew and rusts which spread in dry conditions
Reduce the incidence of diseases which need moist conditions during the growing
season, such as apple scab and apple canker
Possibly stress trees and leave them more susceptible to diseases
Diseases too are moving their ranges northwards but rates of change are currentty unknown.
Perhaps the most serious threat is the outbreak of new diseases which have evolved through
hybridisation of diseases which have previously been isolated from one another.
Page 18
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ = I
Alder phytophthora
This is a hybrid which is believed to have arisen as a hybrid of two phytophthora species which
came into contact as a result of climate changerelated flooding . The parent species did not 1'1
attack alder (one is a pathogen of strawberry), Discovered in England in 1993, in one decade it
killed 15% of alder trees in the southern half of England and has spread across much of
Bleeding canker of horse chestnut
This now appears to be a bacterial disease which seems to be a hybrid caused by disease
range changes. It has killed 80% of Dutch horse chestnuts in a few years and has spread to
Britain and other countries.
These examples do not involve trees of economic importance. If new diseases did (eg. a new
disease of oak). they would be hard or impossible to control.
The most serious impacts of climate change on cultivated plants will be:
Lack of winter chilling for perennials
Drought & water shortages in summers
I nsect pests moving north
Previous naturaJly controJled insects becoming pests in an unpredictable manner
Di seases moving north
New virulent and unpredictable diseases
Most of the problems of pests and diseases will be more difficult to manage by organic methods
than conventional.
Farming methods and gas emissions
The following graphs show the greenhouse gas emissions caused per kg of food type in
conventional and organic farming. Source: www.manicore.com
kg car-bon equivalent per- kg of food. conventional fa,-ming
OC02 .H20 OCH4
f- f-
i- r- -
i- i-
n _ 0 n Iii !OJ 0
.. n ...
'" "
... .. .. ~
.... ...

n ~ u
e :;
= Q ~
= =
~ ~
1: u
0 I- 0..
= ;;

Q ,'"
Greenhouse gases emission estimates linked to the production of a kg (roughly 2 pounds) of
food. Meat is with bones (the proper term would be "carcass equivalent") but without
processing, packaging, or transportation. To give a comparison unit, the far right bar
represents the emissions linked to driving 100 km in an average European car.
Source: IFEN, 2004

.. -------- - --.---,.-.. ---
k:g car bon equivalent per kg of food, organic farming


+--- -----jIOC02 .,l20 OCH4ff-----------------i
L-____ ---'
l- f-,
- r- ei
I- r- I- -
r- r- r- r- l- I- -


':; .
.. ,








, ,



"- '::





c 0








Greenhouse gases emissions li nked to the production of a kg (roughl y 2 pounds) of food with
organic farming. C02 and N20 emissions decrease, and overall emissions by kg decrease by
30% on average.
Source: IFEN, 2004
A life cycle analysis for meat production in these graphs includes:
Emissions linked to the heating of housing
Fossil fuels used to manufacture the fertitizers used to grow the grain eaten
Fossil fuels burnt by the tractor used to grow the grain eaten
Nitrous oxide (N20) emissions that occur when the fertilizers are spread on the field
Fossil fuels required to manufacture food from the cereal s,
Emissions linked to the manufacturing of tractors, to the drying of grain, and even to
the refinery of the diesel oil used by the tractoL ...
Emission from the ruminant digestive process etc.
The scientist who calculated these figures is quoted as saying: organic is definitely a
good thing, but to preserve the climat e we must also eat less meat. "
Suggested responses to climate change
Avoid bare ground, especially in winter, and raise or maintain high
humus levels in the soil by
. Mulching, and I or
i Keeping th'e ground covered with plant growth, be it perennials or a succession of
Not digging as much as possible
Reduce wind damage and evaporation losses by
Planting windbreaks
Plan responses to severe summer droughts by
Planning irrigation systems
Encourage maximum plant health by
Inoculating plants I soils with mycorrhizal fungi
Maximise pest and disease resistance by
Designing systems for diversity
Utilising known resistant cultivars
Including attractant plants for predators of pests
Sustain good pollination by
Including plants for bees (especially' wild) as sources of nectar and pollen
Alter crop type by
Changing cultivars of high chill-requirement crops
Changing crops to warmer-season species
Minimise greenhouse gas emissions from agro-ecosystems by
Avoiding keeping ruminant animal s unless you have enough trees growing
Avoid chemical fertilisers - organic systems relying on nitrogen fixing and mineral
accumulating plants are far preferable
Safeguard the agro-ecosystem by
Page 22
Avoiding low l ying land near to sea level and flooding sites near rivers and streams
Avoiding sandy, very well drained soils
Creating permanent plant cover over soil
If annuals (eg. annual vegetables) are grown then annual green manures should be used as
much as possible - you can undersow beneath the crop before it is harvested.
Underplanting of trees etc. is best done with perennials:
1. First sheet mulch out existing grass/weeds
2. Then either sow a cover (typically legume) or transplant your plants and mulch
Legumes, which can be sown as single species covers:
Lucerne (alfalfa) - persists for 2 years, needs innoculant , droughUalkaline
Red clover - persists 2 years
Sainfoin - persists 2-3 years, good for alkaline soils
White clover - persists 3-4 years, excellent
Birdsfoot trefoif - persists 2 years, alkaline tolerant
Using perennial plants
Aim to plant in drifts/patches of 1-3 species. Most plants do better in groups than as
scattered isolated individuals.
Usually need 5-10 plants per m
of ground for a quick cover
Aim to mix different types of plants (clumping and running or moving) to maximise
soil/space usage
Use species which tolerate shade and, if growing them yourself, are easily propagated
Don' t plant too near young trees & shrubs to avoid competition
Plant in a staggered pattern (not a square grid) for better coverage
Spreading plants can be planted along an 'expanding' edge for succession planting
Recommended perennial cover species
Species Clump! Good Good Plants Propagation
runner on mixed? per m
Ramsons Allium ursinum C X
10 Seed tricky;
self seeds
Good king Chenopodium C
3mod 3
Seed - easy
henry bonus-henricus
Claytonia Claytonia sibirica C
3 3
10 Seed - easy;
self seeds
False Duchesnea R X
10 Seed - easy
strawberry indica
Strawberry Fragaria spp. R
3mod 3
10 Layers - easy
Daylilies Hemerocallis C X
6 Slow

Species Clumpl Good Good Plants Propagation
runner on mixed? per m
Sweet peas Lathyrus C
3 3
4 Seed - easy
Mallo"Ys Malva spp. C X
10 Seed - easy
Lemon balm Melissa C
3 3
5 Seed - easy;
officina/is self seeds
Horsemint Mentha longifolia R
X 5 Seed/runners -
Apple mint Mentha R )
5 Seed/runners -
suaveo/ens easy
Sweet cicily Myrrhis odorata C 3 3 6 Seed - tricky
Oregano Origanum C
3 3
5 Seed - easy
Lungwort Pulmonaria C
3 3
6 Seed - easy
Rubus Rubus 'Belly R
3 3
3 Layers - easy
Nepal Rubus R )
5 Layers - easy
raspberry nepa/ensis
Japanese Rubus tricolor R )
3 Layers - easy
Dwarf Symphylum C
3 3
5 Root cuttings -
comfrey orientale easy
Comfrey Symphylum C
X 4 Root cuttings -
officina/s I easy
White clover Trifolium repens C
3mod 3
6 Seed - easy
Periwinkle Vinca spp. R ) X 5-6 Layers - easy
Windbreak principles
For a hedge/windbreak of height H, the wind speed is reduced for a distance of some
20 x H on the sheltered side of winds, on flat ground.
The most significant reductions are in the quiet zone (about 8 x H in distance from the
hedge) - where there is around 50% reduction
The denser the windbreak, the greater the protection - porous windbreaks are Jess
Dense windbreaks lead to more turbulence in the wake zone (from 8H to 20H from the
The best protection is with windbreaks forming a rectangular cross section to the wind
(not always achievable)
Windbreak design guidelines
Height: should be at least one eighth of the size of the area to be protected. A 'rough' top edge
is better than a smooth topped hedge at reducing wind.
Length: longer than the area it protects or should surround it completely
Gaps: avoid jf possible, as windspeed increases by 20% through gaps. For access, stagger or
angle gaps, or use baffle (island) windbreak
Density: plan very dense hedges for small areas and where winter protection vi tal ; otherwise
aim for moderate to high density hedges
Distribution of density: ensure dense all the way down to the ground (bare trunks can
increase windspeed) - interplant small shrubs if necessary
Multi-row hedges s h o u l ~ have smaller plants to the leeward side (ie inside sheltered area) as
this reduces the aerofoil effect.
Planting: plant smaller shrubs at about 0.5-1 m apart; larger shrubs/small trees at about 1 m
apart. (Further apart in dry regions)
To reduce work, ideally aim for an informal hedge which does not need trimming
Mulch entire planted hedge while it establishes
On slopes, avoid creating frost pockets by sloping hedge downhill or providing staggered gaps
Recommended species for windbreaks
Species West East Max Evergreen
windbrk windbrk height
Italian alder Alnus cordata
15 m
Red alder Alnus rubra
20 m
Barberries Berberis spp.
2-4 m
Autumn olive Elaeagnus
Elaeagnus x
3.5 m
Sea buckthorn Hippophae
J J 3m
New Zealand Phormium tenax
2.5 m
Pines Pinus radiata
20 m
P.nigra maritima
25 m
Cherry plum Prunus cerasifera
12 m
Apple rose Rosa rugosa
1.8 m
Japanese Rubus tricolor
2 m
bramble scramble
Willow Salix Bowles Hybrid
12 m
Page 25
Windbreaks can also:
Be a source of bee fodder
Be a source of wildlife food and shelter
Be a source of logs and poles from coppicing
Be a source of fibres for tying
Be a minor source of edible products. Fruiting windbreaks are possible, but yields will
. be often be low because of the exposure.
~ Help accumulate minerals in leaf litter and nearby soil
The main principles with regard to irrigation are:
1. Know your soil and the water requirements I stress points for your crop
2. Collect rain water if possible
3. Measuring when to apply irrigation
4. Apply irrigation water efficiently
Soil types

e", 7. 8.
You can determine your soi l type by a soil analysis or by and feel ":
Is the soil mostli rough Does stai n the
and gri tty? j I fingers
-' J ___
Is jj di fficult to roll ]1 YES>
Loamy sand
the sOil 1I1to a ball ?

Sandy loam
Does soil feel

smoo'l h and si lky
as '.vei l as 9ri tty?
Sanj y silt loam
( . -
li Does sOi l Aloula to torm
an easily deformed ball YES
Silt loam
and feel smooth and sil ky?

Clay l oam
' Does soil mould to f orm a
I st rong ball which smears
Al so rough and
cl ay l oam
but ' .... hi ch does not take a
l polish?
Also smooth and
Silty' clWI loam
Sil ky?

! Soil moulds and feels like
plast i cine, pol ishes and
Al so rough and
Sandy cl ay
; feel s veri sticky when
gri tty?
Also smooth and
sil ky?
Sil t y clay
Different soil types have capacities for holding water:
' 45

I ......

I ~
v ~


Page 28
--Vol field
--(r- 65%
----*- Topsoi I
Field capacity is the moisture content of a saturated soil which does not drain any more, and
varies from 15% 45% by volume depending on the soil type.
The wilting point i s the moisture content at which crops are unable to extract any more water
from the soil.
The water deficit is the amount of irrigation water or rainfall that has to be added to a soil
profile to bring it back to field capacity.
The available water is the amount of water in the soH above the wilting point
All crops, including trees, can tolerate some drying of soils, but beyond a certain point the
stress becomes damaging to growth or cropping.
For most tree crops, the maximum soil water depletion before damage occurs is 5065% of
available soil water content (the lesser at critical times, ego fruit swelling). In the UK most tree
roots (4050%) are found in the 0300 mm depth with another 25% at 300600 mm. Measuring
the top 300 mm for water content is usually sufficient.
Collecting water
One moderate sized fruit tree may require 500-1000 litres water per month in a severe drought
(well drained soils the higher).
1 m
of roof, reservoir area or collector will collect 700-1000 litres of water per year.
Water butts useful in a small garden situation but only for a few trees.
Other options are:
Above ground water tanks. Either buy (approx prices - 20,000 litre = 800; 70,000
litre = 1800) or make from ferrocement etc.
Construct a below-ground reservoir. Much cheaper (eg 50,000 litre = 100 for digger
+ 400 for liner). Avoid siting where winter waterlogging occurs.
A sloping site also allows for easy extra collection by laying a collector on the slope above the
If the tank/reservoir if not covered then filter systems will be required before the water can be
used for irrigation.
Taking water from streams f rivers may require an abstraction licence and may not be reliable in
droughts anyway.
Exits from field drains can also be a concentrated water source.

Reservoir on level ground
Reservoir on slope
Making a reservoir
For moderate volumes (50-100 m
) aim to dig 60-90 em deep - there are often large
rocks deeper
Page 30
A mini digger can dig about 50 m
per day
The sides can be mounded up to give extra effective depth
Levels are best checked with a hose filled with water
Use an under-liner to protect main liner from rocks & stones. Old plastic sacks/mulch
are ideal. You can also use turfs to line very rough areas.
Liners (plastic or rubber) can be made to any size, though they are cheaper in rolls of
fixed widths ego 6 m
Any cover used should be water permeable to allow rain in
Water outlet via siphon is easiest. else pump
Measuring soil moisture prior to irrigation
You especially need to know when trees are approaching the 50% soi l moisture deficit level
when irrigation is important.
One way of roughly determining mositure levels is by the ~ L o o k and feel " (ball and ribbon) test:
Take a sample from 30 em deep (by auger or spade)
Form a ball by squeezing the soil hard in your fist.
Form a ribbon by rolling the soil between your thumb and forefinger.
Compare with the table below:
Smd indicates the approximate soil moisture deficit.
Available water sand, loamy sandy loam, other loams silt loam. clay
deficit sand fine sandy loam, silty clay,
loam clay
Field capacity Leaves wet Appears very Appears very Appears very
outline on hand dark, leaves dark; leaves dark, leaves
when squeezed wet outline on wet outline on slight moisture
hand; makes a hand; will on hand when
short ribbon ribbon out squeezed; will
about 25 mm ribbon out about
50 mm
20-30% deficit Appears moist; Dark; makes a Quite dark; Quite dark;
makes a weak hard ball (smd makes tight ribbons and
ball (smd 6 mm) 10 mm) plastic ball; slicks easily;
ribbons out 12 makes plastic
mm (smd 12 ball (smd 15
mm) mm)
35-40 % deficit Appears slightly Fairly dark; Fairly dark; Fairly dark;
moist; forms makes a good forms firm ball; forms firm ball;
weak brittle ball ball (smd 20 barely ribbons ribbons 10 mm
(smd 10 mm) mm) (smd 20 mm) (smd 22 mm)
50% deficit Appears dry; Slightly dark; Fairly dark; will Balls easily;
forms very weak forms weak ball form ball; small clods
ball or will not (smd 20 mm) slightly crumbly flatten rather
ball (smd 12 (smd 25 mm) than crumble;
mm) ribbons slightly
(smd 28 mmj
60-65% deficit Dry; will not ball Light colour; Slightly dark; Slightly dark;
(smd 16 mm) will not ball or forms weak forms weak
forms brittle ball; crumbly balls; clods
balls (smd 24 (smd 31 mm) crumble (smd 37
mm) mm)
Over 80% deficit Very dry; loose; Dry; loose, Light colour; Hard, baked,
flowers through flowers through powdery, dry cracked, light
fingers (smd 24 fingers (smd 36 (smd 45 mm) colour (smd 50
mm) mm) mm)
Page 31
Other methods of measuring soil moisture
Weighing and drying
Sample soil , measure volume. weigh, dry and weigh again.
A slow but accurate method; dry in oven at just over 100C for 24 hours.
Vol ume blo of water =
so x 100 x (wet weight-dry weight)/dry weight
Soil probes
so = bulk density of soil, about 1.4 for sandy soils,
1.6 for clay soils
Moderately expensive (circa 150). very accurate, gives measure of % soil water content.
Quite accurate. less expensiove (circa 50)
This gives a reading of soil tension - a measure of the energy needed for plant roots to extract
water from the soiL
Translate the soil tension (measured in bars, centibars, Pascals [PaJ or hectopascals [hPa]: 1
bar = 100 centibars = 100,000 Pa = 1000 hPa) to avail able soil water depletion using the
following table:
Available water depletion, percent
10 20 SO ." 50 00 70 90 00 100
0.1 10
, \


" ..
\ '\

"'-. ..
.. "-.
\ \


.. ,


...... 60
II> 0,1
\ =
'- \
en ,
\ '
0 1,0 :
" .. 101)

" ..
'. \

\ '
.. \

.. \
\ '
3,0 '
, \
, ,

\ \'
\, \
\ 1
\ \\
' ,
. 0
\ '11 .
"\ "'\
0 80
i ><.
Q) 55
:: 45
Page 34


~ ~
--Vol field
wilting point
Irrigation methods
It is only worth irrigating trees when the available water deficit has reached 50% (however, if
there are understorey crops it may be desirable to start irrigating earlier.)
How much water to supply?
The aim is not to supply water up to field capacity (which may cause lots of problems with mud,
compaction etc) but to suppl y water to reduce the available water deficit to 15-20% each
watering. For most soils (except very sandy) this translates to about 20 mm of irrigation for the
top 30 em of soil.
After a watering, the water deficit can be allowed to reduce to 50% agai n before the next
irrigati on (thi s cycle i s healthy for the soil).
20 mm of irrigation i s 20 litres per m
or about 500 litres for a fully grown large fruit tree.
Sprinkler irrigation is NOT recommended - wasteful of water and bad for the soil.
The best forms of irrigation are sl ow - trickle and drip systems.
Drip irrigation
Uses plastic pipework (usually 16 mm) with drip emitters at fixed intervals (usually 30-
60 cm spacing), sometimes connected via their own small diameter (5 mm) pipe up to
1 m long
Eg. Techline, T -tape, Woodpecker system
Good for meandering lines/rows
Fairly easy to lay and move
Needs a reasonable water pressure
Some drippers are pressure-compensated so that flow is uniform - useful on long runs
and on slopes
Typical dripper rat es are 2 litres/hour
Lateral spread from drippers is 60-100 cm total
For trees aim to meander drip lines just inside canopy line either side of tree.
At 31m
and 2 Htres/hour, a 3 hour irrigation will provide 20 mm water
Do not bury - li able to get blocked
Trickle irrigation
Uses a plastic 'tape' with small perforations or a leaky pipe
Eg. Access seephose; Evaflow
Best for crops laid in rows - doesn't bend around corners well
Easy to lay and move
Low pressure systems available, ego Evaflow tape
Lateral spread from tapes is 60-90 cm total
For trees aim to meander drip lines just inside canopy line either side of tree.
Do not bury - li able to damage
Drawbacks of these systems are
The cost - up to 1 per m
plus delivery pipework
Physical obstruction of the system on the ground
Management to avoid leaks or blockages (drip emitters are easily blocked by silt or
algae) - filter is usually needed
Reducing evaporation losses
In hot weather (most likely) irrigate at night or early in the morning - cheap electronic timers
may help
Evaporation losses can also be reduced by using the deep pipe irrigation method with drip
On a small scale, a small hole could be
beneath each dripper and some sort of
placed over the top
Most trees & shrubs form mycorrhizal relationships
Many only grow healthily then
The fungi improves plant mineral nutrient uptake
The plant supplies sugars in return
The association:
reduces drought I temperature stress
improves nitrogen fixation
protects from soil pathogens
can transfer nitrogen & phosphorus from plant to plant
is damaged by soil cultivation and excess fertilisation
Most woodland fungi are mycorrhizal, ego boletus, chanterelle, russula, truffle.
Page 4 A GROFORES TRY NEWS Vol 16 No 4
How to encourage mycorrhizal associations
For fruiting and forest trees:
At planting time, dip exposed roots of tree into water enriched with the spore mass of a
mycorrhizal species.
To make an inoculating liquid, either:
Collect mycorrhizal fungi when fully ripe, and whizz them in water to make a 'soup',
dilute in a bucket; or
Buy dried spores of suitable species from a commercial supplier and mix up with water
Or, after planting:
Spores can be broadcast onto the root zones around trees (make an inoculating liquid
as above). Success rates may be low, but little effort is required
Place soil from root zone of proven mushroom-producing trees around trees soon after
Maximising diversity in agro-ecosystems
Aim to avoid mono crops and increase diversity via:
Intercropping - alternating lines of orchard crops for example (NB take care with
pollination), and planting mixed forestry crops '
Underplanting - include plants to encourage natural predators and pollinators
Polycultures - mixing crops more than just alternating lines. Takes more planning and
careful management
Forest gardens take the ideas of underplanting and polycultures further to try and plan
an integrated self-maintaining system, resistant to changes and extremes
Diversity in commercial systems leads to many small crops instead of a few large
ones: may require more marketing, and more suited to local distribution
Nitrogen fixing plants
Two ways of utilising nitrogen fixing plants to feed other trees are:
Use other trees or shrubs interplanted with the tree crop
Nitrogen enters the system via root turnover and leaf litter, also mycorrhizae
The n-fixer can also be pruned, coppiced etc. and these allowed to decompose
beneath crop trees
In the UK, actinorhizal plants are usually beUer than tree legumes
Crop trees must be planted more widely apart to allow for n-fixing plants beneath
Use perennials on the ground beneath I between the tree crop
Nitrogen enters the system via root turnover and foliage which dies back in autumn
As shading increases, n-fixation decreases and the number of shade-tolerant species
Use legumes
Crop trees can be planted at the usual spacing or slightly greater
Recommended tree / shrub nitrogen-fixers
Trees over 10 m high:
Alnus cordata - Italian alder
Alnus rubra - red alder
Hippophae salicifolia - Himalayan sea buckthorn (suckers)
Robinia pseudoacacia - black locust (suckers)

Small trees 1 large shrubs:
Alnus sinuata - Sitka alder Elaeagnus x ebbingei
Alnus viridis - green alder
Elaeagnus angustifolia - oleaster
Elaeagnus umbellata - autumn olive
Hippophae rhamnoides - sea buckthorn (suckers)
Medium shrubs (1-3 m high):
Cytisus scoparius - broom
Lespedeza bieolar - bush clover
Myrica cerifera - wax myrtle
Recommended perennial nitrogen-fixers
The following all tolerate degrees of shade:
Apios americana - ground nut
Astragalus glycyphyllos - milk vetch
Baptisia tinctoria - wild indigo
Galega officinalis - goats rue
Glycyrrhiza spp. - liquorice
Gunnera spp.
Vicia spp. - vetches
Lathyrus spp. (L.latifolius, L.sylvestris, L.tuberosus) - sweet pea
Trifolium spp. - clover (T.repens - white clover - most shade tolerant)
Mineral accumulatiJ'lg perennial plants
These plants have very deep and/or extensive root systems and tap into mineral sources which
other plants cannot reach.
The minerals are made available to other plants from decaying foliage / roots.
These plants should be included in understorey layers, especially near to or under heavily
fruiting trees.
R d d I ecommen e plan s:
Species Potassium Phosphorus
Galium aparine goosegrass
Glycyrrhiza spp. - liquorice
3 3
Melissa officinalis -lemon balm
Plantago spp. - plantains
Potentilla anserina silverweed
Ranunculus spp. buttercups
3 3
Rumex spp. docks and sorrels
3 3
Sanicula europaea - sanicle
Symphytum spp. - comfrey
3 3
Taraxacum officinale - dandelion
3 3
Trifolium spp. clovers
Tussi/ago farfara coltsfoot
Verbascum spp. - mulleins
Book reviews
Hedgerow Medicine
Harvest and Make your Own Herbal Remedies
Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal
Merlin Unwin, 2008; 206 pp; 16.99.
ISBN 978-1-873674-99-4.
As a response to the growing interest. in Britain and worldwide, in herbal medicine, the authors
(one of whom is a practising medicinal herbalist) have aimed this book at folk wanting to
improve their health by using some of the British wild plants and herbs.
Opening sections deal with harvesting in general , and then processing plant parts to make teas,
tinctures, vinegars, honeys, infused oils. ointments etc.
The main part of the book consists of details of 50 native British plants. For each one there are
good quality photographs, a description of the plant and its habitat, historical and current
medicinal uses, and detai ls of the medicinal parts. They include instruction an how, what and
when to harvest and process to obtain medicinal products. There is no discussion of the
evidence of efficacy of the plants, and some of the historical uses should certainly be treated
with caution, although the references used are all included in notes at the end of the book.
I like the practical aspects of the book. So, for example, many people know that ramsons
(Allium ursinum) has excellent garlic-flavoured leaves, but do not know how to preserve them or
know of their medicinal properties. In answer there are recipes for ramsons pesta and ramsons
sauce, as well as a description from Julie Bruton Seal of the ailments she has found it most
useful for. This practical combination makes the book more accessible and useful to ordinary
folk than many other recent medicinal herb books.
Natural Beekeeping
Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture
Ross Conrad
Chelsea Green, 2007; 246 pp; 22.50 (US$35.00).
ISBN 978-1-933392-08-0
Beekeepers face unprecedented challenges, a fact that is now front page news with the spread
of "colony collapse disorder
Newly introduced pests like the Varroa mite have made chemical
treatment of hives standard practice, but pest resistance is building, which in turn creates
demand for new and even more toxic chemicals. There is evidence that chemical treatments
are now making matters worse.
This book offers a holistic, sensible alternative to conventional chemical practices with a
program of natural hive management. Ross Conrad brings together the best strategies for
_ =='%4
keeping honey bees healthy and productive with non-toxic methods of controlling mites,
eliminating foul-brood disease, selective breeding for naturally resistant bees, and many other
tips and techniques. Detailed management techniques are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of
fact way by this American beekeeper of many years experience.
At a time when honey bees in Britain are in severe trouble, this book is essential reading for all
beekeepers, whether novice or experienced, who are looking to develop an integrated pest
m a n a ~ e m e n t approach using the minimum or no chemicals.
Christian Dupraz & Fabien Liagre
Editions France Agricole, 2008; 416 pp; 40.76
ISBN 978 2 855571508
This fine book, written by two French agroforesters, is an excellent manual on the history, types
and practicalities of agroforestry systems, with a strong emphasis on western European
conditions. It is written in French, though well illustrated (see below) and if you can even
partially read French then you' ll get a great deal out of the book.
The book starts by discussing agroforestry types are their history, from undergrazed orchards to
complex systems of olives, vines and cereals. The main agroforestry systems used in other
parts of the world are also covered.
The science of agroforestry is well described, including effects on soil, animals, and other crops
of tree crops. The environmental benefits are emphasised.
How to go about designing your own agroforestry project is given its own section, followed by
descriptions of the main trees likely to be useful - from honey locust (GfedUsia) to lime (TiJia) ,
most of which would be suitable for British and North American conditions . Soil preparation,
planting, pruning of trees, and financial aspects of projects are all given good treatment.
What to interplant with trees is also discussed, and how the choices made may affect the trees
themselves. Annual and perennial crops are covered.
Over 270 colour photos illustrate the book and (especially to a not very good French reader)
illustrate the text wonderfully well.
Probably the best book ever written on the practicalities of agroforestry in Europe. Highly
recommended (even just for the photos!)
Agroforestry is the integration of trees and agriculture/ horticulture to produce a
diverse, productive and resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade and emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
tall and small trees, shrubs and ground layers in a self-sustaining, interconnected
and productive system.
' . .. , . ". . . ' . . .' . .
Agroforestry' News is published by the Agroforestry Research Trust four times a
year in November, Febr0ary, May and August. Subscription rates are:
21 per year in Britain and the E.U. (.17 unwaged). 39/2 years . .
26 per year overseas (please remit in Sterling)
36 per year for institutions. '
A list of back issue contents is included in our current catalogue, available on
request for 4 x 1 st class Back issues cost 4.00 per copy including
postage (5.00 outside the E.U.) Please make cheques payable to 'Agroforestry
Research Trust', and send to: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon,
Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT, UK. Fax/telephone: +44 (0)1803 840776.
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk. Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk.
Agroforestry Resear<;h Trust
The Trust is a charity registered in England (Reg. No.1 007440),. with the object to
research into temperate tree, shrub and other and agroforestry systems, and
to disseminate the results through booklets, Agroforestry News, and other
publications. The Trust depends on donations and sales of publications, seeds and
plants to fund its work, which includes various practical research projects.
Agroforestry News
Crops for a warming climate
Volume 17 Number 1 November 2008
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 17 Number 1 November 2008
2 News: A good summer for truffles / Cider from ash
Trees / Pne bark / Threatened plants
4 The RISC rooftop forest garden
17 Climate change and agroecosystems:
17 Forestry trees to 2050
20 Forestry management adaption strategies
21 Tree and shrub crops for a warmer climate
31 Paulownia
34 Inks and paints
37 Hemp
40 Book reviews: The Woodland Year / The Peach
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT. U.K. Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
Page 1
A good summer for truffles
The wet summer may not have suited everyone but Britain's truffle hunters are delighted. Tney
are predicting a bumper crop of the fungi known as "black diamonds", over which gourmets go
A chilly spring followed by sunshine and then summer rain has created perfect growing
conditions for the pungent delicacy. The British summer truffle may not be as highly regarded
by epicures as the French and Italian varieties, but it is still worth about 180/kg.
One couple from Plymouth were celebrating yesterday after their gardener discovered truffles
worth hundreds of pounds growing between the roots of beech trees in their garden. However,
a plantation at a secret location in Wiltshire has become one of the world's most productive
sources of British summer truffles. The three-hectare (7-acre) site produced 200kg (440Ib) of
the delicacy last year , and an even bigger harvest is expected this summer.
The truffle expert Nigel Hadden-Paton, the first Briton to be invited to join the Confrerie de la
Truffe de Bourgogne, France's leading truffle "brotherhood", said: "No one has seen anything
like it. The quantity of truffles is simply astonishing. We have found them up to 500g [170z]
each, which means they are bigger than cricket balls. "
Truffle spores were imported to Wiltshire in the roots of beech, oak and hazel trees planted 12
years ago. The slightly acidic soil proved the perfect growing medium - last year's harvest
was worth about 27,000.
Traditionally pigs were used to root out truffles in the Perigord region of France, although dogs
are increasingly used. But the Wiltshire farmer, who does not want to be identified for fear of
attracting hordes of uninvited truffle hunters, has his own unorthodox method, according to Mr
Hadden-Paton. "He finds them by taking off his shoes and socks and feeling around with his
feet. " This year' s truffle season is likely to ' be relatively short because the damp conditions
which helped them grow will also rot them unless they are harvested quickly.
Source: Times Online, UK, 6 August 2008
www.timesonl ine.co. uk/tol/news/ uklsci ence/article4466760.ece
Cider from ash trees?
Stuart Anderson 0 recenlly sent me this interesting item.
' In the leaves a.nd keys of ash (in French, Ie frene) are fermented with sugar,
tartaric aCId and yeast Into a sparkling, refreshing and only slightly alcoholic drink called
"Fren'!'tte" (see t.he photo below of the front label of a bottle bought recently). On the bottle it's
as "cldre. des of the harvesters / reapers) but my
refers !O It as po.or man seIder; If one has enough money then one has an orchard
of elder app'les, not Wine, being the local drink made here in Brittany. It's extremely fizzy
and almost ImpossIble to open the bottle without it spraying everywhere.'
Page 2

:"41>\,1",., D,\\'ID, Les Places, 44450 Saint-Juliell,de.ConceIles Tel
bioiogique contrOl. ECOCERT, 32600 L'isl'. Jounla
' " ' : ' : : I
Pine bark reduces knee osteoarthritis
A third clinical trial in Slovakia confirms evidence that the antioxidant pycnogenol lowers joint
pain, researchers said. A study, published in the August Journal of Phytotherapy Research,
said Pycnogenol - a bark extract from the French maritime pine tree - reduced overall knee
osteoarthritis symptoms by 20.9 percent and lowered pain by 40.3 percent.
Researchers in Comenius University School of Medicine in Bratislava said 100 patients with
stage I or II osteoarthritis were included in the study and were randomly allocated to either a
Pycnogenol or a placebo. Patients were supplemented with 150 mg Pycnogenol or placebo per
day for three months. They were allowed to continue taking pain medication prescribed before
the study but had to record every pill taken.
Source: UPI , USA, 4 fl.n','m',.r
plants emit 'aspirin'
Forest plants subjected to stresses such as drought emit an aspiri n-like chemical that can be
detected in the air above them, American scientists have discovered.
Thomas Karl , the lead researcher at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, believes
that the chemical, methyl salicylate, may be a sort of immune system response. "Plants can
produce their own mix of aspirin-like chemicals, triggering the formation of proteins that boost
their biochemical defences and reduce injury," he says in the journal Biogeosciences.
The chemical can be sensed by other plants and may be a means of communication. Previous
studies have shown that plants being eaten by animals produce chemicals that are sensed by
other plants nearby_ (AP)
Source: Times Online, UK, 19 September 2008
http: //www.timesonline.co.uk/tol /news/world/us and americasl
The RiSe rooftop forest garden
Dave Richards
This article was first presented as a paper at the World Green Roof Congress, London, 2008
When the idea of a roof garden at Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) began to take shape
in 2001 , it was a practical response to the problem of a leaking roof and how to provide sound and heat
insulation for a conference han which doubled as a venue for noisy events. Little did we imagine that
our solution to a domestic crisis would create such interest ; and a steady stream of journalists and
thesis-writing students. It's only with the benefit of hindsight , that we realise that the story of our edible
forest roof garden has a wider significance in a world of rapidly rising oil prices and the need to reduce
our carbon footprint.
RISC is an educational charity which aims to raise awareness of global issues through working with
schools and the general public. In 1995 we bought and refurbished a complex of buildings close to the
town centre which dated back to the18th century. This gave us the opportunity to reach new audiences
through a Global Cafe and fair trade World Shop, as well as broadening our funding base by offering
office space and conference facilities to community organisations. Unfortunately, the shoestring budget
could not stretch to replacing a large expanse of flat roof which was well past its sell-by date. Armed
with a tar brush and bucket of bitumen, we fought a losing battle with the elements, and in 2001 began
to look for funding to renew the whole roof. The idea of a green roof slowly gained momentum as
Page 4
over on an area space,
providing a relaxing spot to eat lunch, hold an informal meeting or learn about plants and
sustainable development'
S S' r pllhmldoh ..... $I .. 'U'l'''!I'I' ........ _
+ 8\:.,
L-________ ...,.. ____ "
internet research revealed its advantages. It soon became obvious that a garden would not only extend
the scope of RiSe's educational work but also appeal to funders. The Big Lottery took the bait and
provided us with 34K topped up with a grant of 13K from SEED.
The design
The design brief for the 200m2 site(32x6m) emerged from brain-storming sessions among the workers'
collective that run the organisation: a garden which could be a tool for making connections between the
local and global, including sustainable development, as well as the economic, cultural and historical
importance of plants. We collaborated with Paul Barney, a local permaculture designer, who adapted
the forest garden idea, championed by Robert Hart in the1970s, to our site and needs. Permaculture is
about Udesigning sustainable human settlements through ecology and design. It is a philosophy and an
in the1970s, to our site and needs. Permaculture is about sustainable human settlements
through ecology and design. It is a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together
micro-climates, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management and human needs into
intricately connected productive communities"l.
Our design takes into account every aspect of the site, surrounding buildings and makes full use of the
local resources. For example, the Centre produces large amounts of organic waste which are
composted and help feed hungry plants, while minimising landfill waste. Shredded paper from offices is
high in carbon, vegetable peelings from the Cafe and tea bags from the meeting rooms are high in
the perfect combination for rapid decomposition. In exchange, herbs and cut flowers are used
in the cafe. Water from surrounding roofs is harvested for the drip-feed irrigation system which is
powered by a small wind turbine and photo-voltaic array. The hard landscaping uses a combination of
reused, renewable and recycled materials - old bricks destined for landfill , paths made from woodchip
and edged with cordwood (tree surgeons' waste which would otherwise be burnt), fencing and raised
beds made from locally coppiced hazel and willow.
The forest garden is a variation of the permaculture approach - using a carefully selected combination
of perennial herbaceous plants, shrubs, trees and climbers in a planting scheme which mimics a multi-
layered woodland ecosystem. This creates the conditions which support great diversity. Once
established, forest gardens require a little pruning and lots of harvesting from early spring to late
autumn. Conventional vegetable plots can also be included. The use of a 75mm layer of mulch and
ground cover plants, such as herbs and strawberries, helps to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
Our design features two winding interconnecting paths which create ecological niches for forest-edge
plants, but also provides enticing access for vi sitors, especially children. It had to accommodate
assorted skylights and ventilation ducts and shade cast by a building on the south side of the plot.
Areas at either end of the site receive full sun for most of the day. One is planted with sun-loving herbs
in a raised bed which surrounds a small area of decking made from local wind-blown oak. The
greenhouse lives at the other end, as well as raised beds used to grow annual herbs and flowers for the
Cafe. Cordoned fruit trees line a hurdle fence on the south facing side of the garden which also gets a
lot of sun. In total , about 100m
, half the plot, consists of beds.
The structure
Victorian maps show that our site had been a courtyard garden, covered over in the 19S0s. Luckily for
us the flat roof structure was substantial - a series of18cm deep RSJs, resting on reinforced concrete
piers, spanned the Sm wide space. The engineer calculated that this could support the combined
weight of 30cm of rain-sodden peat-based soil, hard landscaping, our intensive planting and visitors.
This meant we could proceed with the forest garden design without the need for additional
strengthening, which would probably have been prohibitively expensive for a cash-strapped charity.
Our limited budget dictated that we had to opt for a cut-price version of the Bauder system offered by a
former employee. Fortunately, the existing drainage system was easily adapted to harvest rainwater, so
the new system could be laid on top of the existing decking.
Plants for every purpose
The contractors, RAM-RGC, began stripping off the perished felt in October 2001 and completed the
waterproofing in two weeks. They also supplied the lightweight soil (reclaimed potato washings we
were told). RISC took responsibility for project managing construction of the main hard landscaping
features - path paved with simulated York stone slabs made from reconstituted building waste (high
embedded energy from cement, but lower carbon footprint than imported Indian and Chinese stone
found in most garden centres). raised beds, staircase, fencing to secure the plot.
Planting by a team of volunteers was completed by early June 2002. The initial plant list had about 120
different species - mainly perennial plants from around the world, most with multiple uses: food,
photos, from top: reached its sell-by
date; work raising the surrounds to the and installing the water and root proofing
system began in October 2001; hard landscaping and planting was finished by June 2002
medicine, fuel, fibre, construction, dye, scent - chosen to generate maximum interest for visitors, from
school children through to garden experts. They include the full range of layers, from roots (oca Oxalis
luberosa, American ground nut Apios americana) and ground cover (strawberries Fragaria, herbs)
through to climbers (hop Humulus lupulus, kiwi Actinidia arguta, grape vms vinifera), small shrubs
(lemon verbena Aloysia Iriphylla, blue sausage tree Decaisnea fargesii, Chilean guava Ugni molinae)
and taller trees (cherry Prunus avium, Japanese raisin tree Hovenia dulcis). Most of our fruit trees are
heritage varieties dating back to Victorian breeders and beyond. Notable for their taste (though not for
the uniformity required by supermarkets), they will also enrich the gene pool which will create new
which can cope with the weather brought about by global climate change. The list has now
grown to over 185 species. As far as we knew, this was the first attempt to create a temperate
permaculture forest garden on a roof, and so the project was something of an experiment. The biggest
question was whether our intensive planting scheme could flourish on only 30cm of soil. There was
particular concern that large trees would blow over.
The past six years have clearly demonstrated that the leap into the unknown has paid off. The garden
has matured into a truly beautiful , inspirational oasis that has won awards, astonished the hundreds of
people who visit every year and attracted great media interest . However, there are important lessons
we have learnt which will make it easier for others to follow in our footsteps.
As with most voluntary sector organisations, minimising costs was imperative for the success of the
project whi ch was grant funded. The total budget finally worked out at SOK, the majority consisting of
34K for repair and adapting the roof and installation of Root-Stop waterproofing system, insulation,
drainage board, filter fleece and soil. Hard landscaping accounted for a further 6000, design and
planting for 5000 and the irrigation system, including renewable energy components, cost 3000. Use
of renewable and reused materials (most notably Oxfords hire limestone originally used in the 121h
century to build Reading Abbey, used a second time in an 18th century make-over of our building, and a
third incarnation on our roof garden) helped to reduce the cost of hard landscaping, while our crew of
dedicated volunteers helped t9 minimise labour costs during construction. Ongoing maintenance costs
are minimal- small amounts of organic soil improvers, a new pump for the irrigation system - and
covered by donations from visitors.
The biggest problem is water, both because we aspire to being a zero-carbon garden and the rising cost
of being part of Thames Waters' revenue stream. Despite our water conserving methods, the garden is
like a huge hanging basket and does not hold water very effectively. The intensive planting has high
water requirements during the summer which cannot be met by our meagre 2000 litre storage capacity.
With global climate change predicted to produce drought conditions every three years on average and
huge water demand in the South-East, we need to be completely independent of mains water to
guarantee the garden's survival.
During the dry summer of 2006, when it did not rain for six weeks, the garden was severely stressed
and survived only because, as a business, we were able to use hose-pipes. Unfortunately, the garden
is not metered separately so we do not have accurate data for water consumption during dry periods,
but we estimate 500-750 Htres/day when our storage tank runs dry. On the plus side, water which
percolates through the soil is recycled through the irrigation system. When allows, our solution
is to bury a large cistern in the car park. The footprint of the whole Centre is 420m which would yield
about 13m
of water in July, Reading's driest month, averaged between 1971-2000. For most of the
year this will be used to flush toilets but can be used on the garden during dry periods. This will ensure
that we do not have to turn our temperate forest into a Mediterranean garden.
Page 8
Organic waste from the garden and Centre is composted
Soil fertility is maintained with an annual dressing of organic horse manure (note the Green
Cone waste food digester which breaks down all kitchen waste, including cooked food, into
nutrients which feed the surrounding beds)
One of the vi rtues of a forest garden is that it is low maintenance because it uses predominantly
perennial plants, which look after themselves, and there is permanent ground cover, which reduces
weeding. The first year after planting is the most time consuming. We created a biodegradable
membrane from old copies of the Reading Evening Post, topped with a layer of woodchip. This kept
watering and weeding to a minimum while plants became established. The garden is maintained by
one volunteer, a skilled horticulturist, who occasionally mobilises a larger group of volunteers for two
Sundays a year to apply a spring dressing of organic horse manure and harvest willow to repair raised
beds. During the winter months Mary spends2-3 hours/week on general maintenance, including pruning
of the large number of fruit tree, shrubs and climbers. Spring is the busiest time of year taking 7-8
hours/week propagating plants for sale to visitors, thinning unwanted self-seeded plants and planting
gaps. Routine summer maintenance falls to 3-6 hours/week, watering when necessary, harvesting and
clearing rampant growth from skylights.
Fertility and plant health
Like any allotment, our garden demands large amounts of nutrients. Despite annual dressings of
compost and manure which increase the moisture retaining organic content of the soil, nutrients are
quickly leached from the relatively light soil , although they are recirculated via the irrigation system. We
monitor the health of plants which provides the surest indication of deficiencies. Although the shallow
soil depth has had a bonsai effect on larger shrubs and trees, most are extremely healthy and display
vigorous growth. Our tallest tree, a self-fertile cherry, Prunus avium 'Stella', has grown from a scrawny
two-year old, 1.5m sapling into a robust 6m specimen, which has had to be cut back to reduce its wind
resistance. Our experience is confirmed by research which shows that although trees and shrubs have
root systems which extend many metres in all directions, 90% of roots are found in the top 45cm around
them.(2) Michael Guerra has also shown how limited soil depth is no barrier to highly productive fruit
and vegetable growing (3). Every year or so, we apply a spring dressing of powdered seaweed, a slow
release source of nutrients. We have also added ground Scottish granite which replaces minerals and
trace elements which have been shown to promote plant health. A few plants, notably currants and
hardy kiwis on the edge of the garden, have not thrived in the conditions, but this is probably due to
stress caused by unreliable watering.
Pests have not been a serious problem. There are many plants which attract beneficial insects which
not only aid pollination, but also help control aphids and other unwanted insects. The garden attracts
birds such as blue tits which consume large volumes of caterpillars, though not enough of the rose
chafer beetle and sawfly larvae which find some of our plants especially tasty. Thankfully, slugs and
snails appear to suffer from vertigo because we rarely see them. Another observation is that fungal
disease is minimal. For example, interplanting seems to benefit commercial varieties of strawberry
which have spread and prospered, even though it is recommended that they are replaced every year to
prevent infection.
Use of the garden
From the outset, the garden was intended as a tool to communicate RISC's local global message to a
wider public. It has been an overwhelming success from this paint of view. We have about 750 visitors
a year, mainly in summer. For a time, we left the gate open so people could just drop by, but
discovered that junkies also found it an agreeable place to begin their voyages of discovery. So now it
is open by appointment for school and gardening groups, and to the general public for four weekends
during the summer as part of the National Gardens Scheme which raises money for cancer care and
research. In addition, groups using the RISC's conference facilities and meeting rooms often use the
garden as a break-out room or respite from intense work-shop activities.
Performance artists have also used the garden in their productions. Visitors can have a guided tour
which explains the principles behind the garden and the stories behind some of our favourite plants.
The ultimate must be Emmer wheat , Triticum dicoccum, first domesticated in the Fertile' Crescent
10,000 years ago, and the foundation of several civilisations. Our interpretation materials have
improved - all-weather UV resistant information panels, detailed labels listing uses and leaflets. We
have added new elements to the garden which demonstrate sustainable gardening techniques -
siphons to empty bathwater, low cost rain-fed irrigation systems using 200 litre containers used to
import pickled onions and porous pipe made from recycled car tyres. In 2006 our water conservation
methods featured on the BBC's Gardeners' World. Our website has become a mine of information
though, like the garden, many of its treasures are found in hidden corners.
The garden has been incorporated into RISC's formal education work, how the 'outdoor
classroom' is an ideal resource for helping to deliver all areas of the curriculum. Participants in Initial
Teacher Training and Continuing Professional Development courses run by RISC visit the garden as a
demonstration of how school grounds can be used to meet the government's strategy for sustainable
schools. We have developed activities for children which encourage them to explore the garden and
discover the importance of plants. Being asked to be on the lookout for the plant which could kill them
is a foolproof way of focusing young minds. The leaves of American pokeweed, Phytofacca americana,
undermine the immune system, but in the USA the toxins are neutralised by cooking and the spinach-
like leaves canned and marketed as poke salad, inspiring Tony Joe White's1969 hit, Polk Salad Annie,
which was part of Elvis Presley's 1970s repertoire). One spin-off from our education work has been the
construction of school forest gardens inspired by the RISC model , nine to date, though all on terra firma
The industry
Another category of visitor are professionals who are interested in green roofs. We open during the
Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) Architecture Week and receive a steady stream of students,
facilities managers and other people interested in the growing field of sustainable landscapes -
particularly green walls and roofs and Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs). More recently, there has
been increased interest in the food growing aspect of the roof garden, as part of a strategy to promote
healthy lifestyles and reduce food miles by encouraging urban agriculture (5,6.)
In 2001 , a roof garden was an inlriguing idea. The journey of the past seven years has been an
unexpected revelation and opened up new worlds which enri ch the lives of so many people, from those
of us who are intimately invol ved in its continuing evoluti on, to the children who have eaten day lily
flowers and adults who have gone on to grow their own forest gardens. Feedback from visitors
describes a space that feeds the soul and all the senses. It is a valuable oasis in a concrete, tarmac
and block-paved jungle, a means for people to re-connect with Mother Earth. We become slightly
different people when sat in a garden, more relaxed and less formal- it creates a well -documented,
health-enhancing sense of well being.
So, the main message is: where land is available it is probably preferable to reduce costs and use low
maintenance sedum or other extensive planting to gain the benefits of green roofs. In an urban context
where land is often at a premium, green roofs have a part to play in urban agriculture. City Farmer,
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture, has produced an extensive list of successful aerial allotment
projects from around the world (7). However, like conventional allotments, this form of productive
green roof is relatively labour intensive. Our experience has shown that an intensi vely planted forest
garden is a viable low maintenance option for owners ,architects and developers to add to their palette.
Such a garden scores highly on the habitat creation, amenity and food production levels, but requires
higher capital spending, especially on structural strengthening and sustainable irrigation systems.
A balance between keeping these costs to a minimum while creating the conditions best suited to a
demanding planting scheme such as ours, would be to have 30cm of soil over the majority of a site,
increasing to 50cm or more in areas devoted to trees, ideally on the south-facing edge which could take
the additional loading and provide full sun for fruit trees. In towns and cities, the additional cost of
incorporating an element of a forest garden on a new-build project or a complete refurbishment of an
existing building, is marginal, especially when compared to the value-added. Just imagine if forest
gardens rather than sedum mats had been planted in Canary Wharf. Edible boardrooms might put city
folk back in touch with the real world, prevented the credit crunch and give the human race a realistic
chance of juggling the challenges of global climate change and Peak Oil in a way which gives the planet
and all its peoples the possibility of a sustainable future.
1 Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay, Introduction to Permaculture, Tagari Publishers, 1991
2 Robert Kourik, Roots Oemystified, Chelsea Green, 2008
3 Michael Guerra, The Edible ContainerGarden: fresh food from tiny spaces, Gaia Books 2005
4 Dave Richards, The Outdoor Permaculture Classroom, Permaculture Magazine, Number 54, 2007
5 Edible Cities - A report of a visit to urban agriculture projects in the U5A,London Food Link 2008
6 Andre Viljoen, Continuous ProductiveUrban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable
Cities, Architectural Press, 2005
7 www.citvfarmer.orq/subrooftoPs.html#rpof
Dave Richards has been involved in the development of the RISC roof garden from concept to reality,
and is the present garden coordinator. Building on this experience he has set up Eco garden swhich
provides sustainable landscape design and construction services for forest gardens on roofs and terra
firma. dave@eco-garden.co.uk;08450702716. www.eco-qarden.co.uk '
Further information about the RISC roofgarden.: www.risc.org.uklgarden
t: 0118 958 6692 e: dave@risc.org.uk
Rise forest garden species list
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Actinidia arguta ' Issai' Hardy kiwi, Tara vine
Actinidia chinensis 'Hayward' Kiwi, Chinese gooseberry
Actinidia chinensis 'Tomuri' Kiwi, Chinese gooseberry
Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum' Ground elder, Goutweed
Agastache rugosa Korean mint
Akebia quinata Chocolate vine
Alliaria petiolata Garlic mustard
Allium ampeJoprasum var. babbingtonii Babbington's leek
Allium cepa 'Perutile' Everlasting onion
Allium fistulosum Welsh onion
Allium sativum ophioscorodon Serpent garlic
Allium schoenoprasum Common chives
Allium triquetrum Three cornered leek
Allium tuberosum GARLIC CHIVES
Allium ursinum Wild garlic, Ramsons
Aloe vera Aloe vera
Aloysia triphylla Lemon verbena
Althaea officinalis Marsh mallow
Amelanchier canadensis June berry
Amygdalus persica Peach
Angelica archangelica Angelica
Apios americana Ground nut, Indian potato
Aralia cordata Udo
Aralia racemosa
Arbutus andrachne
Arnica montana
Aronia melanocarpa
Artemisia annua
Artemisia dracunculus
Asparagus officinalis "Purple Jumbo'
Beta \!ulgaris cicla
B o r a ~ officinalis
Bunias oriental is
Bunium bulbocastanum
Calendula officianalis
Caltha paJustris
Camassia quam ash
Camellia sinesis
Capiscum fructescens
Centaurea cynanus
Centuarea nigra
Chamaemelum nobile
Chenopodium bonus-henricus
Cichorium intybus
Cirsium oJeraceum
Citrus x limon
Coreopsis tinctoria
Coriandrum sativum
Corylus 'Webbs Prize'
Crambe maritima
Crataegus monogyna
Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea
Curcubita pepo
Cyclamen hederifolium
Cydonia oblonga 'Vranja'
Cynara scolymus
Decaisnea fargesii
Digitalis purpurea
Dioscorea batatus
Dipsacus full onum
Echinacea purpurea
Eriobotrya japonica
Eryngium maritimum
Eupatorium cannabinum
Ficus carica 'Brunswick'
Foeniculum vulgare
Fragaria vesca
Fragaria vesca 'Muricata'
Fragaria x ananassa ' Hapil'
Fuchsia magellanica
Galium oderatum
Galium verum
Genista tinctoria
Gillenia trifoliata
Glycyrrhiza glabra
Helianthus annuus
Helleborus oriental is
Hemerocallis 'Bonanza'
Page 14
American spikenard
Strawberry tree
Black chokeberry
Sweet wormwood
French Tarragon
Ruby Chard
Turkish rocket
Pig nut
Pot marigold
Marsh marigold
Tea plant
Chilli Pepper
Black knapweed
Good King Henry, Fat hen
Cabbage thistle
Cob nut I hazel
Japanese parsley, Mitsuba
Quince 'Vranja'
Globe artichoke
Blue sausage fruit
Chinese yam
Cone flower
Sea holly
Hemp agrimony
Wild strawberry
Plymouth strawberry
Strawberry ' Hapii'
Sweet woodruff
Lady's bedstraw
Dyer's greenweed
Indian physic
Lenten rose
Day lily
Hemerocallis 'Stafford'
Hovenia dulcis
Humulus lupulus aureum
Hypericum perforatum
Inula helenium
Iris pseudacorus
Juniperus communis
Lamium album
Lathyrus latifolius
Lavandula angustifoli a
Lentinula edodes
Levisticum officinale
Lonicera coerulea edulis
Mallow sylvestris
Malus domestica
Malus domestica ' Ellison's Orange'
Malus domestica 'Spartan'
Malus domestica 'Superb'
Malus sylvestris ' John Downie'
Melissa officinal is
Melissa officinal is 'All Gold'
Mentha spicata var crispa 'Moroccan'
Mentha x piperata
Mespilus germanica
Monarda didyma
Marus ' Illinois Everbearing'
Marus nigra
Musa basjoo
Myrica cerifera
Myrrhus odorata
Myrtus communis
Nepeta calamintha
Ocimum basilicum
Oenothera biennis
Olea europeae
Origanum vulgare I v.aureum I v.hirtum
Oxalis tuberosa
Peltaria alliacea
Petroselinum crispum
Phyllostachys nigra
Phytolacca americana
Plantago lanceolata
Podophyllum peltatum
Polygonatum biflorum
Polygonatum x hybridum
Potentilla anserina
Primula veris
Primula vulgaris
Prunus avium 'Stella'
Prunus domestica 'Czar'
Prunus domestica 'Victoria'
Pulmonaria officinal is
Pyrus communis sativa 'Com ice'
Pyrus communis sativa ' Hessle'
Pyrus nivalis
Day lily
Japanese raisin tree
St John' s wort
Elf wort, Elecampane
Yellow flag
White dead nettle
Perennial Sweet Pea
English lavender
Shiitake Mushroom
Edible honeysuckle
Cox's Orange Pippin Apple
Apple 'ellison's Orange'
Apple 'Spartan'
Apple 'superb'
Crab apple
Lemon balm
Golden lemon balm
Moroccan Mint
Chocolate mint
Bergamot, Bees' Balm
Black mulberry
Japanese fibre banana
Wax myrtle
Sweet cicely
Sweet basil
Evening primrose
Wild Marjoram / Golden, Greek oregano
Garlic cress
Black bamboo
Ribwort plantain
American mandrake
Small Solomon's seal
Solomon's seal
Sweet cherry
Victoria Plum
Pear 'Cornice'
Pear 'Hessle'
Snow pear
Page 15
Rheum australe
Ribes divaricatum
Ribes nigrum 'Ben Sarek'
Ribes odoratum 'Crandall'
Ribes sativum ' Red Lake'
Ribes uvacrispa 'Early Sulphur'
Ribes x culverwellii
Rosa canina
Rosmcirinus officinalis
Rubus idaeas 'Autumn Bliss'
Rubus idaeus 'Mailing Jewell'
Rubus nepalensis
Rubus phoenicolasius
Rubus tricolor
Rumex acetosa
Rumex acetosella
Salvia elegans 'Scarlet Pineapple'
Salvia officinal is 'Purpurascens'
Satureja montana
Sedum acre
Sempervivum tectorum
Smilacina racemosa
Smilax rotundifolia
Solanum tuberosum
Sorbus aucuparia
Stachys affinis
Stauntonia hexaphylla
Stellaria media
Stevia rebaudiana
Symphytum upJandicum
Tanacetum balsam ita
Tanacetum parthenium
T anacetum vulgare
Taraxacum officianale
Thymus vulgaris
Thymus vulgaris 'Argenteus'
Ti gridia pavonia
Trifolium pratense
Trigonotis icumae
Triticum dicoccon
Tropaeolum majus
Ugni molinae
Ugni molinae 'Flambeau'
Urtica dioica
Valeriana officinalis
Verbascum thapsus
Vi bemum opulus
Viola odorata
Vitis vinifera
Wasabia japonica
Zanthoxylum alatum planispinum
Zanthoxylum simulans
Zingiber officinale
Page 16
Himalayan rhubarb
Coastal black gooseberry
Buffalo currant
Dog rose
Autumn Raspberry
Nepalese raspberry
Japanese wineberry
Creeping bramble
French sorrel
Sheep's sorrel
Pineapple sage
Purple sage
Winter Savory
Common stonecrop
House leek
False spikenard
Mountain ash
Chinese artichoke
Japanese stautonia
Alecost, Costmary
Common thyme
Silver thyme
Tiger flower
Red clover
Trigonitis icumae
Emmer wheat
Chilean guava
Variegated Chilean guava
Stinging nettle
Greater Mullein
GueJder rose
Sweet violet
Grape vine
Japanese horseradish
Toothache tree
Szechwan pepper
Climate change and agroecosystems
Forestry trees to 2050
The climate is changing so rapidly that it is not possible to plant longterm forestry trees in
Britain (ie 80 -150+ years to cropping) with any certainty that they will reach maturity due to
the climate becoming unsuitable.
If long-term crops are planted, ego oak, then it would be wise to use seed sourced from
southerly locations (eg. southern England source for Scotland, French source for England) for
some entire compartments (areas). Some local seed can be used for entire areas too, but be
aware that local seed-grown trees are not likel y to be as adaptable in the decades to come and
may well die out of stress-induced pest or disease problems.
Do not mix seeds / trees from southerl y & local sources in areas because the wrong trees may
get thinned out in the early years.
Don't get distracted by the ' natives only' lobby - the trees that will do better I best in the next 50
years are a mixture of native and non-native, and tree ranges are changing like those of other
In commercial forestry terms, concentrate on high value, short rotation crops (30-50 years) ,
which are more likely to definitely succeed.
Quercus robur

Thll mop "":IS by memben 01 III, EUFORGEN Oaks anc! 8tfth and pubhhed in:
Du<Oullo, A..,d S. Botdacs .:2OO' . EUfORGEN TlKI\nIc;al Gndeln ... lDrllMelieeonsffYlll .... ,nd tnfI lDrpe<iullOlJiale and 51!'Sm oM (01 ....... robIIrand C.
h\emltion,1 PLI"I Genetic 1m!lIu1 Romt. e l)aiHo
Page 17
Note that the grey squirrel problem is likely to get worse as the climate warms.
Distribution maps of existing ranges can sometimes be useful for predicting how trees will do in
the future but need interpreting.
Eg. For oak (Quercus robur) , although the distribution in southern Europe (see above map)
looks widespread, and would appear to suggest that oak should be able to cope with a
substantial amount of warming temperatures, in fact the trees in southern Europe are at high
a l t i t i d e ~ and on north slopes. A temperature rise of more than about 3e (of which southern
England has already had 2) is likely to leave oak trees increaingly stressed and unable to
resist current or new pests and diseases.
For maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), the distribution in southern Europe is mostly at low altitude
and this specie is likely to do increasingl y well in Britain.
Pinus pinaster

~ .. ,-,
- ~ .. "
... '

This distribution map wa, compiled by members of \he EUFORGEN Conifers NeIwOfk
and was publis.hecl in:
Alia. R. afld S. Martin. 2003 EUFORGEN Technical Guidelines fO( genetic consarvalion and use for Maritime pine (pinus pina$terj.
International Plant Geoetie Resou-ces Iostil..-e, Rome. Italy 6 PIIge$.
Page 18

If we want to grow wood for timber, crafts or fuel in the future then we have to be looking at
growing increasing numbers of trees from other parts of the world. Growing for long-term timber
(eg. on rotations of 80, 100 or more years) has always been an optimistic occupation, and today
it is even more so. We simpl y do not know what the climate is going to be that far ahead. The
trees with naturally durable timber, in particular, hold great promise. Coppice crops too are a
fair bet. Some of the species which are good contenders for British conditi ons are listed below.
Species Common name Grown in Coppice Comment
Acer pseudoplatanus sycamore
Acer saccharinum silver maple
Castanea sativa sweet chestnut .I .I Naturally durable
Cladrastis /utea yellow wood
Cory/us colurna Turkish hazel
Cupressus Italian cypress Naturally durable
sempervirens wood
Fagus grandifolia American beech
Fraxinus excelsior ash
.I .I Best in north I west
long term (high
Juglans ailantifol/a Japanese walnut
Juglans nigra black walnut .I
Juglans nigra x regia hybrid walnut .I
Liriodendron tulipifera tulip tree
Pau/own;a tomentosa foxglove tree
Pinus nigra Austrian pine .I Needle blight a
Pinus pinaster maritime pine
Platanus acerifolia plane
Prunus avium wild cherry
Prunus serotina black cherry
Quercus ilex holm oak .I .I
Quercus pubescens downy oak .I .I
Quercus rubra red oak .I
Robinia pseudoacacia black locust
.I .I
E European
Sequioa sempervirens Coast redwood
Naturally durable
Thuja plicata western red Naturally durable
cedar wood
Rather than allowing the unknowns about climate change paralyse us, it is imperative that we
take a sensible view of what is likely to happen and act accordingly: acting in a positive sense
rather than battening down the hatches in a negative sense. In the case of tree planting,
diversity is the essential strategy, using tree species from anywhere that will fit the bill.
Certainl y keep some native trees growing too to hedge your bets and give wildlif e a chance at
least of adapting or moving with the changing conditions.
Forestry management adaption strategies
Increase resistance to change
High risk, high value and/or extremely urgent situations, such as critically endangered species,
eXlr,eme fire risk situations, or volatile invasive species epidemics, are the most appropriate
subJ.ects lor resistance management. In such cases, using great force to armour resources
agalQsl change may be the best option.
This OPtion can be extremely expensive, consume a lot of time, resources, and staff effort , and
may be only short term. Resisting change can be risky; in many situations, conditions will
eventually become so different that a resource threshold passes and resistance becomes futile.
Promote resilience to change
When a species, habitat , watershed or other natural resource returns to its former condition or
function after disturbance, it has "resiled". A widely held, but mostly untested assumption in
that forests , species or ecosystems are more resilient to change. Strategies to
promote resilience are also likely to be successful only for the relatively short term, in that
eventually changed climates will force new environmental conditions such that ecological re-
setting rather than resilience will be the "healthiest " path toward adaption.
Enable ecosystems and resources to respond to change
ThIS strategy assumes that a decision-maker acknowledges the inevitability of change and
adopts the humility that we have limited capacity to understand what change will happen at the
scales need by land managers. Many types of actions can assist species, ecosystems, or
resources to move to new and adapted conditions and processes:
Assist species and resources to follow changing environments
AntiCipate and ptaJl for associated risks
Experiment creatively
Use redundancy
Relax genetic-management guidelines (ie use of local material only)
Experiment with refuges
Increase diversity
Promote connected landscapes
Realign conditions to current and future dynamics
For systems that have been pushed (manipulated or disturbed) beyond their natural variability
range, actions that promote alignment with current conditions and processes may be the best
approaches for restoration rather than returning to historic conditions. Returning habitats to
pre-disturbance conditions is a widely used model for ecosystem restoration, but is often
Inappropriate because so much change has happened since pre-disturbance times.
Reduce greenhouse gases and non-renewable energy use
Management actions can be designed to enhance sequestration so that carbon stored in natural
reSOurces is retained longer, emissions are lowered, and non fossil fuel energy is favoured. By
contract , poor management , a lack of management , or inadequate management can accelerate
negative effects - an example is the increasing number of large catastrophic forest fires in the
Page 20
Tree and shrub crops for a warmer climate
Existing tree crops, for example apples, can be helped to adapt to a warmer climate by
regrafting with lower-chill varieties. But there are a number of crops which, though most may be
borderline in productivity now, will all improve as the climate warms.
The following table lists a number of the better known possibilities for future home scale and
commercial tree and shrub crops for Britain. Each crop has been given a risk rating on a scale
of most viable (so chestnuts are viable commercially now) to most risky (it will be a long time
until we can safely grow commercial Citrus here!)
most viable most risk
A ricot
Pineapple guava
Porne ranate
Kiwi fruit
Passion fruit ./
Chilean hazel
Pecan (southern)
Pine nut
Tree 5 m high and wide on St Julien rootstock; flowers early (mid March onwards); brittle
branches; self fertile but better crops with cross pollination; crops at 4 years old, full bearing at
10 years
Needs a site free of late spring frosts and shelter to avoid branch breakage and for pollination -
mainly. by wild bees
. .
Only serious disease is bacterial canker, many of the newer varieti es are resistant
Varieties recommended:
Early Moorpark (in east)
Golden Glow
Moorpark (in east)
Shrubby evergreen trees, not very cold tol erant , needing a long summer to ripen fruit; borderline
in UK.
Require mild winters with few frosts and a long hot growing season; likes lime-free soil.
Pests include aphids and scale insects but are not serious outside.
Species I varieties to try include:
C.ichangensis - Ichang papeda
C.l imon (lemon) - vari eties Eureka, Snow
C.madurensis - Calamondin
C.meyeri - Meyers lemon
C.pseudolimon (9aI9al)
C.reticulata (mandarin) - varieties Chinotto, Cleopatra, Guangiju, Satsuma, Silver Hill
Spreading trees 5 m high and wide in Britain; wind tolerant; tolerant of alkaline soils; fruits in a
few years.
Prefers a well drained soil, fruiting best in a poor sandy soil - in good soils wi ll need root
rest ricting by lining of planting pit ; needs feeding with potash but little nitrogen.
No major pests or diseases.
Recommended varieties:
Brown Turkey
White Marseilles
Jujube - Chinese date
Ziziphus jujube is a tree to 3-5 m high and wide in Britain; likes a hot dry summe"r to ripen wood
and fruit ; very drought tolerant.
Prefers a well drained! dry soil all year round.
No major pests or diseases.
Recommended selections:
Seedl ings can be productive
Eriobotrya japonica is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing to about 3 m high and wide in
Britain - smaller on quince rootstock; easy to grow; drought tolerant ; fruit in 2-3 years.
Tolerates most soils and situati ons; little feeding required; flowers in winter, the flowers tolerate
minimum temperatures of -SoC.
Diseases include apple scab and fireblight.
Recommended varieties:
SI Michel
Evergreen shrub or small tree growing 3-4 m high and wide in Britain; hardy cultivars tolerate -
10 to -12DC; flowers in late spri ng I early summer ; processing needed to make fruit edible.
Requires a long hot summer to ripen fruit, even more so to ensure a good oil content; prefers a
well drained soil and dislikes waterlogging in winter.
Olive leaf spot disease may become a problem as it is already present in the UK.
Recommended varieties:
Aglandau (oi l)
Bouleilian (oil)
Cailletier (oil & table oilve)
Frantoio (oil & table olive)
Leccio (oil)
Tree about Sm high and wide on St Julien rootstock ; flowers early, in March, selffertile,
pollination mainly by wild bees; bears crops after 2-3 years; branches tolerant of wind.
Nectarines are not so viable due to peach leaf curl problems.
Some ~ h e l t e r desirable at flowering time.
Serious diseases: peach leaf curl (plant resistant I tolerant varieties, especially as open trees),
bacterial canker.
Recommended varieties (resistance to peach leaf curl noted):
Avalon Pride (resistant)
Dixired (some resistance)
Hylands Peach (some resistance)
Redhaven (tolerant)
Redwing (some resistance)
Robin Red Breast (some resistance)
Rochester (some resistance)
Persimmon (Sharon fruit)
The oriental persimmon, Diospyros kaki is a large shrub or small tree in Britain, growing to 6 m
high by 4 m wide; flowers in July; hardy to -18C; light feeder.
Requires a long warm summer to ripen fruits, good shelter and drainage; irrigation rarely
No particular pests or diseases in Britain.
Recommended varieties are mostly of the 'astringent' type (ie cannot be eaten f r e ~ h off the tree,
must allow to ripen first):
Fuyu (non-astringent)
Great Wall
Kyungsun Bansi
Natale (non-astringent)
Pineapple guava
A bushy evergreen shrub growing 2-4 m high and wide in Britain; hardy to about -15C; flower in
July in Britain.
Prefers a sheltered position - branches are brittle; prefers acid, well drained soi l with a good
organic matter content; needs a long warm summer to ripen fruit in November; require potash
but little nitrogen.
No pests or diseases of note.
Recommended varieties:
The dwarf pomegranate nana is likely to be more viable in the next few decades than the tree
crop as it is hardier (to -1 DOC) : a deciduous shrub 1 - 1.2 m high and wide, with smaller fruit.
Requires long hot summers to ripen fruit, likely to be best in the east of England; drought
No particular pests or diseases.
Varieties of the tree form are only hardy to about -5"C and are not likely to be viable here some
a long time.
Climbing shrubs which are usually trained on strong supports; needs summer heat to properly
ripen; drought tolerant.
Varieties from mid and south western France will become increasingly viable, especially for
wine; French regional specialities will vanish.
The vine phylloxera pest will probably move north from France into Britain, forcing vine growers
to use grafted plants on resistant rootstocks.
Cultivars likely to be planted here soon include:
Chen in, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Sau,mur, Touraine Sauvignon, Pinot Nair, Grolleau, Pinot
Meunier, Pineau d'Aunis and Romorantin (Loire region grapes)
Colombard, Folie Blanche (Picpoule) , Ugni Blanc, (Cognac region grapes)
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot , Malbec, Carmenere, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon,
Muscadelle (Bordeaux, Medoc, St Emilion & Sauternes region grapes)
Blanquette, Baco Blanc 22A (Piquepouls de Pays) (Armagnac region grapes)
Kiwi fruit
Deciduous strong climbing vines, hardy to about -12C; require support / framework; early to
leaf out, susceptible to spring frost damage (leaves killed by - 1.6C).
Usually require male and female vines (1 male per 8 females) , though some self-ferti le
varieties; likes any well-drained soil ; tolerates humid conditions; heavy feeders.
No major pests or diseases; grey mold can be a problem, cats can destroy young vines.
Recommended cultivars:
Atlas (male)
Boskoop (self fertile)
Bruno (female)
Hayward (female)
Jenny (female, self-fertile)
Solo (female, self-fertile)
Tomuri (male)
Passion fruit
The Passiflora are woody or herbaceous vines with tendrils - need a structure I frame; best
edible species not very hardy - to -4 to-SOC; need a sunny site and hot summer - only suitable
for southern England.
Passifloras require very well drained soil and do not like frozen soil; feed with potash.
Slugs and snails can damage plants in Britain.
Recommended species I cultivars:
P.edulis - 'Black Beauty', 'Nancy Garrison'
P. x exoniensis
P. membranacea
Small trees growing to 5 m high and wide; early flowering, susceptible to spring frost damage
Myran and SI Julien rootstocks tolerate most soil conditions; prune in summer; feed lightly;
cross pollination helpful.
Only grow selctions resistant to peach leaf curl ; other diseases include bacterial canker (as on
plums) especially from winter cuts, blossom blight , shothole.
Recommended cultivars are later flowering (similar to plums) :
Ingrid (peach - almond cross)
Robijn (peach - almond cross)
Sweet chestnuts are arge trees, hardy, fairly wind tolerant, late flowering, not generally self
fertile; hybrids of European & Japanese chestnuts are more disease resistant.
Page 27
Orchards should be planted at 8-12 m tree spacing; like a well drained acid soil. Coppiced
orchards may be a possibility.
Grey squirrels are the major pest - must be controlled; few diseases here (though in France
chestnut blight and ink disease are serious); a little chestnut codling moth damage to early
Recommended cultivars:
Belle Epine
Bouche de Betizac (hybrid)
Bournette (hybrid)
Maridonne (hybrid)
Marigoule (hybrid)
Marron de Goujounac
Vignols (hybrid)
Chilean hazel
Gevuina avellana are evergreen small trees growing about 4-5 m high in Britain; mature trees
frost tolerant to -8C (young trees less hardy); not self fertile; flowers and fruits at the same
time, fruitrets must overwinter.
Requires well drained acid-neutral soils, especially in winter; prefers shelter; feed lightly.
Young plants are susceptible to root diseases and losses are common.
No recommended cultivars available in Europe at present
Heartnut or Japanese walnut
Juglans ailantifolia cordiformis is a medium to large vigorous tree, tolerant of most soils, similar
timber to black walnut; not self fertile.
Prefers a sheltered site; earlier flowering than European walnut but more tolerant of spring
frosts on flowers & leaves; needs cross pollination; feed lightly.
Main pest is the grey squirrel; no major diseases.
Recommended cultivars:
Campbell CW3
Pecan (southern)
Small to medium sized trees in Britain, restricted by hardening off of growth - prefers hot
summers; not self fertile.
Require a fertile, well drained soi l and shelter - brtille branches; light feeder; ensure cross
Grey squirrels are likely to be the major pest; no major diseases in Britain.
In a few decades' time some of the earlier 'southern' varieties should succeed such as:
The so-called 'northern' varieties (much smaller nuts, the size of large acorns) are
recommended now and for the next few decades:
Campbell NC-4
Carlson #3
Pine nut
The most viable species for Britain is the stone pine, Pinus pinea - a medium to large
evergreen tree, hardy to about -12QC; wind and drought tolerant. In future decades some of the
Mexican pines, ego P.cembroides, may be viable in the drier east of the country.
Ensure cross pollination; cones ripen in their 3
year; harvesting from large trees is labour
No major pests or diseases in Britain.
Thin shelled varieties may exist in some regions of Spain & Italy but are not commercially
European walnut is a medium to large tree; hardy; not generally self-fertile; some varieties are
susceptible to spring frost damage.
Requires shelter for good pollination; orchard trees should be spaced at 8-12 m apart; tolerate
most soils; slow to build up to full cropping.
Diseases of note include walnut blight and leaf spot - French varieties tend to be more resistant
than eastern European or American; main pest is the grey squirrel.
Recommended cultivars are late leafing and resistant to diseases:
Corne du Perigord
Ronde de Montignac
These references are the main ones used for the climate change articles in Agroforestry News
Vol 16 No 4 as well as the article here.
Bisgrove, R & Hadley, P: Gardening in the global greenhouse: the impacts of climate
change on gardens in the UK. University of Reading, 2002.
British Columbia MAL 577: Irrigation Scheduling with Tensiometers. 2006.
Clim<jte Change Scenarios tor the United Kingdom - The UKCIP02 Scientific Report.
Tyndall Centre, 2002.
Devon County Council: A warm response - our climate change challenge. DCC, 2005.
Dow, K & Downing, T: The Atlas of Climate Change. Earthscan, 2006.
Gordo, 0 & Sanz, J : Phenology and climate change: a long-term study in a
Mediterranean locality. Oecalogia, 2005.
Hickling, Ret al: paper in Global Change Biology, reported by BBC on 7/9/06 ' British
Species migrate northward' .
Ley, T et al: Soil water monitoring & measurement (PNW0475). Washington State
University, 2006
Millar, C: Reframing Strategies for climate change. Inside Agroforestry, Vol 17 No 2.
Penuel as, J & Filella, I: Responses to a warming world. Science, Oct 26 2001 .
Pridmore, A et al: Climate Change, Impacts, Future Scenarios and the Role of
Transport. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, 2003.
Steinfeld, H et al: Livestock's Long Shadow. FAO, 2006.
Stern, N: Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. HMSO, 2006.
Visser, M et al : Shifts in caterpillar biomass phenology due to cl imate change and its
impact on the breeding biology of an insectivorous bird. Oecologia, 2006.
Visser, M & Both, C: Shifts i ~ Phenology due to global climate change: the need for a
yardstick. Proc. Royal Soc. Biological Sciences, Vol 272 No 1581.
Walther, G et al: Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature (2003)
Wild, M et al: From Dimming to Brightening .. Science 6 May 2005.
www.biaversityinternatianal.org/ networks/euforge n/euf distribution maps. asp
www.met-office.gov.uk - Met office: temperature records and online maps
www.stabilisation2005.com - proc of the avoiding dangerous climate change
conference, Exeter
www.ukcip.org.ukJresources/publicati ons/pub dets.asp?ID=26 - MONARCH project
modelling natural resource responses to climate change.
Papers from 'Avoidi ng dangerous climate change' conference, Exeter, 2005, pub Cambridge University
Press 2006.
Leemans, R & van Vliet, A: Responses of species to changes in climate determine
climate protection targets.
Schneider, S & Lane, J: An overview of " dangerous" climate change.
Wood, R et al: Towards a risk assessment for shutdown of the Atlantic thermohaline
Introduction and description
Pau/ownia is a tree with a genus of between 6-17 species (depending on the taxonomic
authority) from the monogeneric family Paulowniaceae, related to and sometimes included in
the Scrophufariaceae. Paulownia is a genus of Asian hardwood trees native of China and which
have been cultivated there for the past 3000 years.
Commonly known as kiri , at least six species of Paulownia are currently recognised, including
P. elongata, P. fargesii, P. fortunei, P. glabrata, P. taiwaniana and P. tomentosa.
Paulownia is a tree with the C4 photosynthetic pathway that increases the rate of leaf sugar
production in warm conditions. Most species of plant use the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which
fixes C02 from the atmosphere using the Rubisco enzyme. The C3 cycle uses the fixed C02
and energy from sunlight to make sugars but the is inefficient because the enzyme
Rubisco is not saturated and not very it also fixes atmospheric oxygen.
This inefficiency increases at high
temperatures and low C02
concentrations. Conversely, C4 plants
can overcome the inefficiency of C3
photosynthesis and C4 plants
therefore have the photosynthetic
edge over their C3 counterparts when
atmospheric C02 is low and light and
temperature are high. (thus the
advantages in a cool climate like the
UK are not great.)
Paulownia was introduced into the
USA in the 1800's where it flourished
after the accidental release of
Paulownia seeds into the wild from
packaging material for Chinese dinner
wear. Due to its relatively rapid rate
of growth Paulownia has been
described as ~ t h e tree of the future"
but it is still relatively undeveloped as
a crop species. However, over the
late 1980's and 1990's Paulownia has
been attracting more interest.
Paulownia and can be propagated by
seed, root or stem cuttings and under
normal conditions, a 10 year old
Paulownia tree can reach 30-40 cm in
diameter, 10-12 m in height and with a
limber volume of 0.2-0.6 m
. Such
growth rates can be exceeded in a
good habitat.
Paulownia tomentosa
Page 31
Paulownia wood, leaves and flowers
Pau/ownia wood is used in house construction, for paper pulp, furniture making, farm
implements and musical instruments. The wood is about 40'% lighter than ordinary wood and is
very promising for pulp and paper. Pau/ownia timber air dries readily and has excellent thermal
and electrical insulation characteristics. Japanese researchers described some of the
properties of particle board made from low quality P. tomentosa and concluded that low quality
Paulownia trees offer potential as a raw material for particle board manufacture.
The tlranches of t'he tree can be used for household energy and a 10 year old tree has been
reported to produce 350-400 kg branches for fuel. Pau/ownia is said to require minimal
management and little investment and has been receiving greater attention as a short-rotation
woody crop in recent years. Pau/ownia also has a range of medicinal properties, and the leaves
can be used for animal fodder.
In China, leaves are used as fodder for pigs and sheep. Paulownia leaves are reported to have
a similar feeding value to lucerne and are suitable for combining with wheat straw or hay for
feeding to cattle, sheep or goats. Trees planted at 540 trees/ha are reported tal produce 1220
kg DM/ha with 20% protein and 60% digestibility.
A Paulownia tree that is 8-10 years old is reported to have 100 kg fresh leaves, with 2.8-3%
Nitrogen (N) and 0.4% potash. Data detailing the chemical composition of the Paufownia leaf
are 7.8% ash, 22.6% protein, 91.4% organic matter, 0.6% phosphorus, 2.1 % calcium, 0.6% iron,
0.9% zinc, 15-18 MJ/kg metabolisable energy.
There is potential for the leaves to be used as an ensiled fodder crop. When the leaves fall,
they can be a valuable source of organic matter and nutrients for the soil.
Research to examine the ability of Paulownia to take up nitrates, heavy metals and land
contaminants has been conducted over the past two decades and shown that the tree has good
potential for mopping up excess nutrients in many situations.
Growing conditions & planting
Paulownia trees are very hardy and can tolerate a range of temperatures. Coppiced Paulownia
trees can grow 5-6 m tall during the first growing season and adds 3 to 4 cm in diameter
annually if optimal growing conditions are present. Likely yields of 25-40 tonne DM/ha/annum
are possible in UK conditions.
The main conditions to be taken into consideration are that Pau/ownia will not tolerate wet sites,
land with a high water table, or tolerate frost conditions below -20
C. Ideally, the water table
should be at least 1.5 metres or more below the surface. The site should be well drained and
slightly sloping. Soil type should be clay loam to sandy loam, ideally with a near neutral pH
although Paulownia can grow quite satisfactorily in soils as low as pH 5.0. For heavier soils,
gently rolling hills of at least 10 degrees are preferable to ensure adequate drainage. For
lighter soils, the ground can be flat but the water table must be at least 1.5 metres deep during
the wet season to ensure adequate aeration of roots.
Shelter is desirable for young Paulownia due to their extremely large leaves which are
susceptible to wind damage. Leaves are very palatable to both domestic stock and wi ldlife so
trees must be well protected.
The root system of Paulownia tree is unique, in that the roots grow deep in the well drained
soils it likes and its crown develops a loose structure. Roots have been reported to reach 0.8-
1.5 m or even 2 m in length and in sandy and other well drained soils, 76% of the absorbing
roots reach a depth of 40-100 em, with only 12% of the roots within 0-40 em. In comparison,
almost 80% of wheat roots and 95% of maize roots are generally distributed 40 em into the soil.
Root development is dependant on soi l structure, where Paulownia thrives in a loose, well
drained sandy soil.
Trees for timber should be planted at 750 per ha (300/acre) and for biomass 1960 per ha
(BOO/ac re ).
Intercropping I agroforestry
The Chinese are presently intercropping with Pau/ownia on some 1.3 million ha of land
throughout the country. If a field will be planted with another crop, for example wheat, it is
recommended that the planting density should be no more than 500 trees/ha, perhaps being as
low as 300 trees/ha at 3 m x 6 m.
Recent research examining Paulownia-crops intercropping over the past 20 years concluded
that the intercropping system increased the quality and yield of crops and increased the
Paufownia volume and economic benefit. These authors suggested that a number of areas
require further research, including the mechanism of production variation with the intercropping
system, intercepting of sunlight by Paulownia and its effect on crop production, the development
of indexes to estimate the economic and social benefits of the crop-Paulownia system, the
impact of secretions from the Paulownia roots on crop production and the effect of intercropping
on the agro-ecological system. Other Pau/ownia intercropping studies in Eastern China with
maize or beans or ginger demonstrated that maize and beans suffered whilst growing as
intercrops, with a reduction in yield of 63% and 68% respectively, compared with sale crops
while ginger yields increased by 134% when intercropped with Pau/ownia. If agricultural
production from the land is the main objective in a crop-Paulownia system, the optimum
intercropping pattern is given as trees to be spaced no closer than 5 X 20 m for the first 6-7
years, after which trees should be thinned to a spacing of 5 X 40 m, with new rows of trees
being planted to replace those in thinned rows. After the new trees reach 4-5 years, the
remaining trees aged 10-11 years could be harvested.
Biofuel/Biomass production
A Paulownia plantation can be harvested on a number of occasions, giving a continuous source
of wood. Paulownia trees need to be coppiced, pruned and thinned, with trees that have had
the first years growth being cut to encourage coppicing giving better formed stems. The trees
are pruned in the second and third year to a height of 4-6 m to provide a butt log that is free of
knots. Thinning of the trees may also be required but is dependant on the initial planting
density. Trees established for short rotation biomass production are cut down to the stump after
the first year to encourage sprouting; fi ve or more stems are then allowed to develop, which can
be harvested annually with the tree being allowed to grow back each year .
Paulownia can be used as an energy source in a number of ways including:
Burning directly for heat for an individual home or a community heating scheme
Burning to generate steam for the production of electri city
A feedstock for pyrolysis to generate gas
A feedstock for ethanol producti on using the Brelsford acid hydrolysis process
In comparison with cereal crops, the use of Paulownia for ethanol production has a higher
efficiency in terms of energy in :energy out. Paulownia can be used as a "cellulosic ethanol
generator", where cellulosic ethanol is a blend of ethanol produced from biomass including
waste from urban, agricultural and forestry sources. Cellulosic et hanol is said to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 85% over reformulated petrol. For comparati ve purposes,
sugar-fermented ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 18-29% over petrol.
Page 33
Paulownia is a very durable and light wood, almost one third the weight of oak and half the
weight of pine. The specific gravity of Paulownia ranges between 0.23-0.30 (23-30% of water
density). Air-drying of Paulownia is reported to take as little as 30 days and boards can be kiln
dried to 10-12% moisture at high temperatures in 24 hours without warping. Shrinkage of the
wood from green to oven-dry is reported as 2.2% radial and 4% tangential. During changes in
humidity, Paufownia remains stable and has little shrinkage or expansion in comparison to the
majority of other woods.
Paulownia grown in China was attacked by many diseases and insects, the most serious being
witches broom (characterised by a clustering of branches) which impairs tree growth and vigour
and can lead to premature death. The disease affects the branches of the tree, trunk, flowers
and roots.
Other diseases reported to have occurred in China are Anthracnose (also known as leaf blight,
which is a fungal disease) and Sphaceloma paulowniae and mistletoe (Loranthus sp.) can also
cause some considerable damage.
Woods, V B: Paulownia as a novel biomass crop for Northern Ireland? AFBI, 2008
Inks and paints
History ,
Writing inks were first used in about 2600 BC by the Chinese and Egyptians. They probabl y
consisted of carbonaceous materials like lamp black or soot mixed with animal glue or
vegetable oil. Carbon black is still a major pigment and vegetable oils are used widely in
printing inks. Inks, paints and varnishes are generally referred to as types of surface coatings.
The pigments in modern inks are currently almost all synthetic. The two exceptions are
Dragon's blood (a mixture of dracorhodin and dracorubin obtained from Doemonorops
propinqus grown in Sumatra and Borneo) and chlorophyll. The former can be used for
preparing halftone plates for multicolour printing. Chlorophyll is obtained from green plant
material , often stinging nettle, spinach, alfalfa or corn. Natural indigo prepared in a powder
form was formerly used as a paint.
Types of inks and paints
Paints and printing inks both consist of a thin layer of a curable liquid applied to a substrate. In
the case of inks, the substrate is usually metal foils, paper and plastic films, and textiles, which
are serviced by a very specific part of the industry. Paints are applied to a wide range of
surfaces, including metal , wood, stone, brick, etc.
A printing ink consists of colouring material i n a carrier which forms a fluid or paste that can be
printed on a substrate and dried. The colourant is usually a pigment , dye, toner or combination
of these. The composition of a printing ink is usually highly specific to its use and its properties
dependent on the substrate and application method involved. It needs to have the correct
characteristics of flow, adhesion, stickiness, drying time, penetration, colour intensity and so on.
The increasing use of non-petroleum carrier oils, usually a vegetable oil substitute such as
soybean oil or oilseed rape oil, has been driven by the need to reduce the emission of volatile
organic solvents (VOCs), the desirabi lity of rapid, safe biodegradation, and the . advantages of
using inks that can be safely and effectively removed (de-inked) from waste paper for re-
The most important properties are:
Drying - the process that transforms the fluid ink into a rigid form. This is achieved by
absorption ,solvent evaporation, oxidation, resin precipitation, drying with other
various forms of energy, etc.
Rheology (printability) - concerns the viscosity, yield value (the point at which the ink
starts to flow under pressure) and thixotrophy*. Flexographic and rotogravure inks
need to have a low viscosity, yield value and thixotrophy, whereas letterpress and litho
inks can be more viscous. Printing with low press speeds needs inks of high viscosity,
and vice versa. The degree of pigmentation can affect yield value and thixotrophy.
(*Thixotrophy - the property of becoming temporarily liquid when shaken or stirred,
etc, and returning to a gel on standing)
Colour - Inks currently use dyes, usually made insoluble in some way, and inorganic
pigments to produce the required colour. The most commonly used pigments are
black pigments, principally carbon black, used in very large quantities in newsprint and
publication, and white pigments, the most popular of which is titanium oxide. The
major types of dyes used are anthaquinone, azo, phthalocyanine, triphenylmethane
and vat dyes. All are synthetic and mostly coal or oil-derived, however there must be
potential for plant dyes to be used in some cases.
These properties are obtained by different mixes of various oils, driers, solvents, resins,
pigments, dyes and waxes. Linseed oil is the major oil used as a binder in printing inks,
although soya and rape seed oil are used increasingly.
There are four classes of inks;
1) letterpress inks,
2) lithographic inks,
3) flexographic inks,
4) rotogravure inks.
The first two types are usually oil inks or paste inks, and the latter two, solvent or liquid inks.
Letterpress inks are usually based on a mineral oil, although vegetable oils are increasingly
used. Litho newsprint inks are based on rosin (derived from tapped pine trees) or other resins
dissolved in petroleum fractions.
Page 35
Types of inks currently used in printing
Ink Type comments
Rotary heat-set publ ication and Based on natural or semi -natural resi ns
commercial inks
Sheet-fed commercial inks Resins dissolved in vegetable drying oils (li nseed,
soya, chinawood, lall oils) and dilut ed with

hydrocarbon solvents; commonly used in
commercial printing
Document -reproduction and business Jet-dot method pri nting inks based on glycols, water
form inks and dyes
Folding-carton inks Simi lar to document inks ; need to be qui ck drying
Corrugated and KrafHiner contai ner Resins dissolved in ethylene, dipropylene or
inks triethyleneglycols
Metal container inks Oleo- resinous and heat-set varnishes in drying oil s
Plastics inks Oleo-resinous varnishes
Stamp pad Dyes (usually indul ine black) used as the total ink
has to soak into the pad
Ball -point ink Strong dye solutions and pigment dispersions in
vehicles containi ng oleic acid and castor oil or a
plasticiser; need to be slow dryi ng, free of part icles,
hi ah tinctorial st rength
Steel-die i nks Need to contain a dryinq oil
Electrostatic inks Powder pigment dispersed in a resin; particles need
the proper electrical properties, size range and be
free flowing
Ink jet inks Solubl e dye colourant in a suitable resin-sol vent
vehicle; need to be stable, fluid and free of particles
Ink manufacture
Inks are usually made by:
1) mixing the pre-dispersed pigments with the vehicles, solvents, oils and other
ingredients, or
2) mixing the dry pigments or resin-coated pigments with the other ingredients and then
grinding them in an ink mill.
Printing processes
The printing process being used dictates the specifi cation of the ink, as shown in the table
above. The surface and type of substrate and its end use are also important in determining the
type of ink. They are so specialised that each use needs to be considered separately. The
biggest requirement for ink would appear to be carbon black for newsprint.
Hancock, M: Potential for col ourants from plant species in England & Wales. ADAS report
Hemp (Cannabis sativa), native to western Asia, is widely grown as a fibre crop in Europe and
is established as a minor crop in the UK. The crop can be grown both for its fibre and oil and is
being investigated as a renewable energy feedstock.
Hemp is an annual plants which is naturalised in Britain and occasionally found on waste
Hemp likes a deep humus-rich soil but can be grown successfully on a wide range of soil types.
It does not like wet soil conditions for long and needs full sun.
Hemp production in Europe is supported by an aid payment to primary processors (known as
the Fibre Processing Aid Scheme). Hemp is a relatively low input crop - conventional farmers
apply 80-120 kg N/ha to the seed bed, often with potassium and phosphorus too - and as such
is fairly easily grown organically following a nitrogen-fixing ley or similar crop.
Hemp provides a good break crop and is free of major pests and diseases in' the UK. The crop
is fast growing and quickly forms a dense canopy which suppresses weeds. Some weed control
is needed after sowing - conventional growers use a broad spectrum herbicide before
emergence - organic growers could use brush weeders for example.
Sowing takes place once the risk of hard frosts has passed -
late April onwards. A population of about 150 stems/m
desirable for fibre production, achieved by sowing about 180
seedslm' (35-45 kg/ ha).
Hemp straw is delivered to processing facilities in large
round or heston bales. Haulage costs are likely to dictate
that productions remains fairly close to processors.
Hemp grown in the UK can be used to produce both fibre
and seed. Fibre varieties may reach 3 m high in UK
conditions and are selected to produce large quantities of
high quality fibre.
More recently, dwarf or dual purpose varieties have been
introduced; primarily grown for the seed oil , with small
quantities of fibre also produced. Sowing rates for these
varieties are reduced compared with those used for fibre
production - .25 kg/ ha. Yields of 1.25 Vha of seed are
possible, with a straw yield of 5 Vha. Plants are wind
The legalities
Only cultivars with less than
0.2% .6.-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol (THe),
the narcotic component of
cannabis, may be grown in
the EU.
A Home Office licence is
required to grow hemp in the
UK, which is normally held
by the contractor, and
growers must have some of
their crop sampled at
Hemp flea beetle, Phyllatreta nemorum, may appear but the fast growing nature of the crop
means that it rarely becomes a problem. Potential fungal infections include grey mold (Batrytis
Cinerea) and Scferatina sc/erotiarum.
To facilitate extraction of the fibre from the woody core, after mowing in early to mid August the
crop may be left in the field for 2 ~ 3 weeks to rett. This allows fungal and bacterial breakdown of
bonds between the fibre and the surrounding tissue. The crop is then rowed and baled. The
crop must be stored under cover while waiting to be processed.
Average fibre yields of 7.5 t/ ha of straw are achieved in the UK although up to 10 tlha is
Seed crops are harvested using a conventional combine and dried to 9% moisture.
Hemp fibre
During processing, long fibres from the outside of the stem (bast fibres) are separated from the
woody core; both have a number of uses.
The long bast fibres are already used by some major car manufacturers to produce composites
for parcel shelves and door linings; other uses include insulation materials and horticultural
More traditional uses include the manufacture of cordage, clothing, and nutritional products.
The bast fibres can be used in 100% hemp products, but are commonly blended with fibres
such as flax, cotton or silk, for apparel and furnishings, most commonly at a 55%/45%
hemp/cotton blend.
The woody core, or shiv as it is commonly known, was previously a low value by-product used
as horse bedding. It is now combined with lime to make a valuable buil ding materi al which can
substitute for concrete blocks or conventional render with good insulative and environmental
Hemp seed and oil
The seeds can be eaten raw, ground into a meal, sprouted, made into "hemp milk" (akin to soya
mi lk), prepared as tea, and used in baking. The fresh leaves can also be eaten in salads.
Products range from cereals to frozen waffles, hemp tofu to nut butters. A few companies
produce value added hemp seed items that include the seed oils, whole hemp grain, hull ed
hemp seed (the whole seed wi thout the mineral rich outer shell), hemp fl our, hemp cake (a by-
product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some
organic cereals, for non-dairy "mi lk" somewhat similar to soya and nut mi lks, and for non-dairy
hemp "ice cream." The seeds contan 20% highly digestible protein and 30-35% oil.
Hemp oil has both industrial uses and application in the health supplement and personal care
markets. It contains many essential fatty acids beneficial to human nutrition. Hemp oil has
similar industrial uses to that of linseed oil in paints and varnishes and may also be used in
printing inks and solvents.
Hemp oil contains 80% essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (LA, 50-70%), alpha-linolenic
acid (ALA, 15-25%) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 1-6%) . The proportions of linoleic acid
and alpha-linolenic acid in hempseed oil meet human requirements for EFAs. Unlike flax oi l
and others, hempseed oil can be used continuously without developing a aeficiency or other
imbalance of EFAs. Unfortunately the unsaturated fat makes the oil rancid quickly, unless it is
stored in dark coloured bottles or mixed with chemical preservatives. This makes hemp oil
difficult to transport or store. The high unsaturated fat content also makes the oil unsuitable for
Hemp-lime composites
The shiv from hemp is chopped and mixed with lime to produce a number of composite
materials now used in building. Hemp and lime construction can be built on site quickly and
efficiently or prefabricated off-site, allowing conventional builders to incorporate the materials
into their normal practices with little adjustment.
Hemp and lime masonry construction is unique because it provides a method of building with is
struct urally sound, can provide thermal and acoustic insulation,. Thermal mass and storage but
can also be used as the external skin of a building. Hemp-like composite materials absorb
moisture vapour and allow it to pass through the fabric of the building. Breathabil ity helps to
protect the fabric of the building, particularly against decay in timbers.
www.hemplime. ora.uk
Hemp and Lime Construction. NNFCC Factsheet 07-001. NNFCC,2008.
Hemp. NNFCC Crop Fact Sheet. NNFCC, 2008.
Book reviews
The Woodland Year
Ber:1 Law . .
Permanent Publications, 2008; 176 pp; 19.95 (hardback)
ISBN 978- 1-85623-033-9
Building on the fame achieved by wThe Woodland House" and Grand Designs, the publishers
have produced a visually fantastic book, full of colour photos, often two or more per page. They
show, month by month, how Ben works in his woodland, and he gives us a description of his
tasks and more - what feeds his soul. It is not a how to do it manual, and doesn't try to be,
rather it is a celebration of how a working woodsman can live and sustain himself with
meaningful work.
At the outset Ben Law states in this book that he doesn't want to romanticise the life of a
woodsman, and that it involves a lot of hard physical work, although the rewards are well worth
it. However I'm a littl e unsure of whether the book actually achieves this aim.
About a third of the book is not written by Ben Law, but instead for each month there is a
"guest" woodsman describing his or her work at that time of year. These pieces are welcome
and broaden the interest with other types of woodland and management.
The Peach
Botany, Production and Uses
D R Layne & D Bassi (Eds)
CABI, 2008; 848 pp; 135 / $270 (hardback)
ISBN 978-1-84593-386-9
This comprehensive book involving scientists from eight countries summarises the current state
of knowledge of peach in topics ranging from botany and taxonomy to breeding and genetics of
cultivars and rootstocks, propagation, physiology and planting systems, crops and pest
management and postharvest physiology.
The book also includes details of the history of cultivation in China (for Prunus persica
origi nates from China, not Persia, where it was taken along the silk route a few centuries B.C.)
and includes historical references dating back to 100 B.C.
An essential text for scientists, students, professional fruit growers and others.
AgrofOfe5try is the integratIon of trees and agriculture! horticultL:re t) proc:;ce <:!
diverse, productive ar.d resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
products. It car. range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade arid emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
tail and sm811 trees, shrubs &nd ground layers in a self-sustaining, intercGnnected
and productive systern.



0') c.
Agroforestry News is published by the Agroforestry Research Trust four times a
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Agroforestry News
Forest garden abundance
Volume 17 Number 2 February 2009
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 17 Number 2 February 2009
2 News: Cork forests in danger I Oregano essential oil
against MRSA I UK recent climate changes ,
4 Indicators and guidelines for landscape
assessment and planning for agroforestry
8 The ART forest garden in 2008
28 Woad as an indigo crop
30 Traditional Andean cultivation systems:
implications for sustainable land use.
35 Viola: the violets
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes, Devon, Tag 6JT. U.K. Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.ro.uk Website: WWIN.agroforestry.co.uk
Cork forests in danger
It has .recently emerged that falling demand for authentic cork stoppers is gradually forcing
farmers to replace cork trees with alternative crops, such as eucalyptus trees.
At present , according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) website, Portugal is the world's largest
cork producer. followed by Spain, Algeria. Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France.
The majority of cork harvested in Iberia is used to produce bottle stoppers, which represents an
estimated 70 percent of the income from harvest. However, traditional cork stoppers are being
replaced with synthetic closures C;>r screw caps, which now account for around 20 per cent of the
It is said that problems with bottles of wine becoming 'corked' (in layman terms, where the wine
develops a musty smell and becomes undrinkable due to contamination with a chemical known
as Trichloroanisol) , have led many wine connoisseurs to opt for bottles with synthetic cork or
screw tops instead. This shift in traditional bottle stopping to using modern-day products is
threatening to wipe out cork forests, along with the species that reside therein.
Cork oak forests in Portugal cover an estimated 33 per cent of land mass and are home to a
number of rare and endangered species, particularly in Southern Portugal. These include black
storks and booted eagles, which are already disappearing in some areas, and the Iberian Lynx,
which over the past few years has been the subject of extensive reporting and campaigning.
A study by WWF, which was recently reported in The Telegraph newspaper, estimated that up
to three Quarters of the Mediterranean's cork forests could be lost within 10 years. Over the
past ten years in the Algarve, cork forests have declined by 28 percent.
In an attempt to boost productivity, Portuguese cork producers have introduced new sterilisation
and purification methods to ensure corks are not contaminated with Trichloroanisol.
Source: http://www.the-news.net/cgi-bin/google.pl?id=988-33
Essential oils from Himalayan oregano effective against MRSA
A team comprising resean;:hers from a UK university and members of local businesses and an
NGO in India has discovered that the essential oil of Himalayan oregano has strong
antibacterial properties and even kills the hospital superbug MRSA. They hope these findings
will lead to the development of hand soaps and surface disinfectants in hospitals and other
healthcare settings.
The UK researchers are from the University of the West of England, Bristol, who teamed up
with. among others. India-based Biolaya Organics, a company that develops projects aimed at
conserving endangered medicinal herbs, for example by cultivating them using sustainable
methods and providing alternatives such as more common species.
The team is working on a project to give rural communities the means to generate income from
sustainable collection of non-timber forest products in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) gave the project the SEED
award. SEED is an international programme with UN backing that supports entrepreneurial
partnerships that develop creative, locally led solutions to the global challenges of sustainable
The creative and innovative part of the project is that it potentiall y gives a sustainable source of
income to the people of the Himalayas while at the same time providing UK hospitals with an
environmentally friendly way of preventing the spread of MRSA. The Himalayan Oregano
project was one of five SEED 2008 winners who this year were selected from over 400 entries
Himalayan oregano is just common Origanum vulgare that grows in the Himalayas. In fact the
local people in Kullu don't regard it as having any culinary or medicinal value and treat it as a
weed: they call it "bekaar gahaas" or "useless grass" because even the cows and goats don't
eat it.
Ben Heron from Biolaya Organics said they started working with oregano because it is a plant
that can be gathered year after year without depleting the population in the wild. He said the
project aims to pay local herb collectors the same amount they would get if they collected
endangered herbs so they become less dependent on the latter.
Scientists already knew that Mediterranean oregano oil was a powerful because
of an essential compound called carvacol. But nobody had tested the Himalayan oregano oil
before, said Heron, so they teamed up with SGS who run a lab in Delhi and found it contained
as much carvacol as the Mediterranean one.
At SGS they ran further tests and found that the Himalayan oregano oil was more effective at
killing MRSA than 18 antibiotics. The microbiologists at UWE are now carrying out further tests,
and hope to publish the results in a scientific journal.
Professor Vyv Salisbury, who leads the UWE arm of the project, and co-investigator Dr Shona
Nelson, also from UWE, said they were very excited to have this opportunity to help the
community. Salisbury said: "We have done a few preliminary tests and have found that the
essential oil from the oregano kills MRSA at a dilution 1 to 1,000. The tests show that the oil
kills MRSA both as a liquid and as a vapour and its antimicrobial activity is not diminished by
heating in boiling water," she added.
Salisbury said the oi l could perhaps be used to develop disinfectant washing powders because
it's so strong. The next stage, she said, which has already begun, is to set up an academic
study in partnership with the SGS labs in Delhi to give the project the academic credibility
needed to market the oil.
we are able to start providing a sustainable income for villages in Kullu, the scope for up-
scali ng and replication in other parts of the Himalayan region is enormous," said Salisbury.
50urce: Medical News Today, UK, 24 November 2008
lttp:/Iwww.medicalnewstoday.com/a rticles/130620. phD
Page 3
UK climate changes in the last 45 years
UKCIP has just published uThe climate of the UK and recent trends which uses Met Office data
to produce maps and charts of how the climate has changed over the last 45 years.
This is essential reading and will probably shock most people. For example, since 1961 , mean
annual temperatures have increased by between 0.6 and 2C (the lesser figure in NW Scotland,
the greater in SE England). These are huge increases, far higher in most cases than the figure
for global warmi'ng over the 'same period. They are also a warning that major disruptive
changes in ecosystems, both natural and man-made, may not be far off in the UK.
You can view and download the pdf of this publication at www.ukcip.org.uk
Indicators and guidelines for landscape
assessment and planning for agroforestry
by Mike Dosskey. Gary Bentrup. and Gary Wells
Assessments And Plans
Agroforestry practices can produce numerous environmental benefits that become signifi cant
only through multiple installations over a large area, including greater diversity of wildlife,
healthier aquatic ecosystems, and cleaner stream water. Through landscape-level assessment
and planning, a limited number of agroforestry installations can deliver significant improvements
if designed and placed in 9ritical locations.
Indicators And Guidelines
Agroforestry produces environmental benefits by altering landscape structure and modifying the
flow of resources across the landscape,. Since you normally can't see these processes, you
need to look fOf indicators of them in the patterns of land cover and land form that comprise
landscape structure. An assessment of existing patterns can reveal potential resource
problems. Guidelines, then, can be used to select locations and designs for agroforestry that
will modify existing patterns and produce desired environmental benefits. The following sections
provide some useful indicators and guidelines.
Terrestrial Wildlife
Indicators: Look at the pattern of permanent vegetat ion and water sources among agricultural
and other developed areas. Large patches of permanent vegetation that include water sources
are viable habitat for many species and can produce more wildlife for migrating to other
patches. Forest patches favour forest species and grassland patches favour grassland species.
Edges of patches and corridors favour edge species and habitat generalists. Small ,
unconnected fragments of permanent vegetation may lack sufficient water, food , or cover for
maintaining wildlife populations.
Look for corridors that enable wildlife to move among patches of suitable habitat. Corridors that
connect small patches to large patches provide conduits for wildlife to recolonize unpopulated
patches and provide access to habitat needs that may be lacking in the small patches. Wide
breaks in the continuity of vegetative cover. including tilled or mowed areas, roads. and other
developments, create gaps that can act as barriers and hazards for wildlife movement.
Guidelines for enhancing terrestrial wildlife
Locate agroforestry practices close to streams, ponds, and wetlands .
.. Locate agroforestry practices next to existing forest patches or other suitable habitat , including
field borders and riparian buffers, to enlarge existing habitat areas and to connect patches .
.. Locate and shape agroforestry areas so that when combined with adjacent habitat it creates
block-shaped patches for promoting interior forest species, elongated patches for promoting
edge species, or corridors for connecting habitat patches across the landscape .
.. Select the agroforestry type and tree species that can create the appropriate forest structure
for enhancing desired species of wildlife .
.. Locate agroforestry away from important grassland habitat.
Water Quality
Indicators: Look at the pattern of areas disturbed by cu ltivati on, li vestock, and urban
development, natural and man-made waterways , and permanent vegetation among the
di sturbed areas and waterways. More pollutants are generated from areas disturbed by tillage
and fertilization , livestock confinement, and urban construction, particularly where they occur on
steeper land and in frequently-flooded areas. Water runoff from disturbed land flows downslope
into natural channels, but constructed waterways such as ditches, terraces , subsurface
drainage tiles, and culverts, concentrate runoff flow and often divert it across natural slopes.
Infiltration moves soluble nutrients and pesticides into soil and shallow aquifers.
Large patches of permanent vegetation that cover entire watersheds can protect stream
networks and underlying aquifers by stabilizing soil and minimizing chemical and manure inputs.
Smaller patches of permanent vegetation that lay in the path of runoff flow before it enters a
stream channel or drainage way can filter some pollutants from runoff water. Groundwater that
flows within a few feet of the ground surface can be filtered among roots of vegetation.
Groundwater is often shallowest in riparian areas and floodplains. Patches on low floodplains
can also trap pollutants in floodwater. Greater impact is produced where runoff flow is slow and
dispersed throughout a patch of permanent vegetation. Larger patches can filter larger runoff
Guidelines for reducing water pollution
.. Locate agroforestry practices in disturbed areas that generate greater pollutant runoff loads,
such as cultivated areas and livestock confinements on steeper slopes and in floodplains .
Locate agroforestry practices immediately downhill from major source areas and in other
areas where runoff water tends to concentrate prior to entering a channel or drainage way .
.. Orient row or strip-type agroforestry plantings along topographic contours .
Locate agroforestry practices in floodplains and riparian areas to filter shallow groundwater.
* Size agroforestry practices to be larger/wider on sites that intercept greater runoff load.

Aquatic Wildlife
Indicators: Look at the pattern of stream channels and land cover along them. A long straight
channel through agricultural land can indicate that the stream has been intentionally
straightened, cleared, and cleaned of debris. Extensi ve agricultural and urban development can
increase storm flows that erode banks and scour debris from channels. Lack of riparian forest
exposes the channel to sunlight and high summer air temperatures which increase water
temperature. Dams and drop structures can block fish migration to and from reaches that have
suitalle habitat.
Large patches of permanent vegetation that cover entire watersheds protect aquatic systems
and maintain natural flow regimes. Riparian forest provides temperature-moderating shade
during summer and contributes debris to channels that provide habitat structure and food for
aquatic organisms. Meandering channels are more resistant to channel scour and have more-
diverse pool and riffle structure. Free-flowing streams enable fish to migrate between suitable
Guidelines for enhancing aquatic wildlife
.. Locate agroforestry practices along streams and shores (riparian zones), especially where
they maximize shade to streams during summer months .
.. Riparian corridors should be wide enough to provide adequate debris and shade to the
stream .
.. Locate agroforestry practices where they connect to existing riparian forest and fill gaps that
will create longer reaches of continuous forest vegetation .
.. Select fast-growing , tall tree species that will quickly produce dense shade.
+= Select flood-tolerant trees along streams where frequent flooding is expected.
Stream Bank Stability
Indicators: Look at the pattern of stream channels, land cover along them, and the extent of
land development around them. Channel incision and bank erosion may stem from runoff-
increasing land development and drainage improvements, removal of riparian forest. and
channel straightening at and upstream of the site. Channel dredging and straightening can
cause channel incision that propagates upstream (headcutting) and accelerates bank erosion.
Extensive and rapid bank erosion indicates a very unstable stream. Large patches of permanent
vegetation produce smaller storm flows. Channels that are lined with riparian forest are more
resistant to bank erosion.
Guidelines for reducing stream bank erosion
.. Bank erosion is easier to control with vegetation along small er and relatively stable streams .
.. Locate agroforestry practices on both sides of a stream. Stabilizing the bank on one side of a
stream can accelerate erosion on the opposite side .
Locate and size agroforestry practices to allow for continued bank erosion until the planting
matures enough to provide stability to the bank.
Select a mixture of deep-rooted shrubs and trees that will protect the bank from
surface scour and strengthen it against bank sloughing.
* Select shrub and tree species that can resist toppling by flood flows, and can resprout after
breakage caused by floods, ice flows. and bank sloughing.
* Locall y-severe bank erosion may need to be stabilized using soil bioengineering, a specialty
agroforestry practice.
Landscape Aesthetics And Safety
Indicators: Look at the pattern of landscape elements. Uniform land cover can be monotonous.
Views of industrial or urban sites may be undesirable. Noises from roads and railways and
odours from livestock and waste treatment facilities diminish enjoyment of other aspects of the
landscape. Blowing dust and snow create safety and health problems along roads and in
resi dential areas.
Forested patches and corridors create visual diversity and pleasing mosaic of land covers in
cultivated landscapes. Forest strips can help to bl ock noise and undesirable views and to
reduce blowing dust and snow. However, improper placement of trees can block desirable
viewpoints along roads and cause snow and dust to accumulate on roadways and in urban
Guidelines for enhancing landscape aesthetics and safety
" Locate agroforestry practices where they will add visual diversity to the landscape. Design
plantings to mimic lines and shapes of other elements in the landscape.
" Locate agroforestry practices as close as possible to noise, odour, or other air pollutant
sources, and to screen undesirable views from roadways and urban areas.
" Locate agroforestry practices away from places where they will block desirable views from
roadways and nearby urban developments. Avoid creating bl ind spots at road intersections.
" Locate and/or orient agroforestry plantings so that they do not cause snow accumulation or
blowing dust problems on roadways and in urban areas.
" Select species that will add visual appeal, such as colourful foliage, to the surrounding
landscape. Create visual diversity by adding clumps of visually interesting species at the edges
of each planting.
This article appeared in The Overstory #214 and was excerpted from:
Dosskey, M. G. Bentrup, and G. Wells. 2008. Indicators and guidelines for landscape
assessment and planning for agroforestry. Agroforestry Note 40. USDA National Agroforestry
Center (NAC), Lincoln, Nebraska. <http://www.unl .edu/nac>.
The ART forest garden In 2008
I started planting the forest garden at Darlington in autumn 1994, 50 the oldest trees are now 14
years old, and most of the underplanting is complete. This does not mean there is no planting
to be done, however: some of the ground covers & perennial mixtures are experimental, and
thus some succeed and some fail. The failures get mulched out and replanted with something
else .

The Alliums with long thin leaves make a very poor cover over the ground and are generally not
very shade tolerant; in sun they have plenty of weed competition. Ideally they should be grown
with a companion cover which is low so they can grow through it. One mixture which works
quite well for me is green strawberry (Fragaria viridis) and Allium moly. I also have a number of
Alliums growing happily through the very low groundcover raspberry Rubus pentalobus
'Emerald Carpet' .
Allium moly with Fragaria viridis
Staying with the Alliums, one of my favourites in the forest garden is the European ramsons
(A.ursinum). which starts into growth here in February and is finished by July, dying down to a
bulb for the rest of the year. Like all All iums, its leaves and flowers can be used in salads and
cooked. It forms a lush, thick cover when in growth, and combines well with ground ivy
(Glechoma hederacea) . I don' t bother digging the bulbs, they are pretty small.
Allium ursinum
The other main Allium in the forest garden in the
Babington leek, Aampe/oprasum babingtonii, which is
a perennial version of the familiar cultivated leek. This
produces a head of bulbUs (likes small cloves of garlic)
in early autumn, which I broadcast around where I
want more of it. After producing these, plants dies
down to a bulb (like a good sized garlic bulb but not
subdivided, with an onion-garlic flavour), only to start
growing again a month later. They grow all over
winter, when they can be dug up (and thus killed) or
cut (and allowed to regrow). finally going to flower in
late spring.
I have a dozen or so bamboos in the forest garden.
Bamboos are great, keeping the garden looking alive in
winter and supplying a good quantity of both bamboo
shoots to eat and bamboo canes (a lot of which are
used when sending out trees orders). They vary in
size, the largest I have is Phyllostachys vivax which
now puts up canes 5-6 cm in diameter and 6 m
long - one or two shoots from that make a good portion
of vegetables, My favourite for canes is P,viridi-
gfaucesscens which produces canes 1-2,5 em in
In 2007 and again in 2008, though, one of my bamboos
flowered and produced seed, I have a line of about 30
Pleiob!astus simonii (Medake) which I grew from seed,
and though only 'about 1.5 m' high, many of these
flowered in 2007 and a few in 2008, The seed of
bamboos, like all grass seeds, is edible, but is also a
good size and flavour - rather like a sweet rice,
It is a bit fiddly to dehusk, no doubt the Chinese do this
mechanically - they often harvest bamboo grain
whenever a bamboo flowers,
Bamboo grain - Pleioblastus simonii
Page 10
Sea beet - Beta vulgaris
Claytonia sibirica
I am gradually increasingly the area of perennial vegetables in the ground cover I perennial
layer. Many of these are best combined with a low ground cover to reduce the weeding and
maintenance necessary. A very nice vegetable is the native perennial sea beet (Beta vulgaris
maritima), which is of course a parent of beetroot and chard. The leaves are fleshier than those
of beetroot and are best cooked liked chard. It likes a well drained soil and can die out where
conditions are too wet over winter, but it easily propagated by seed.
One at my favourite perennial salad plants is Siberian purslane (Claytonia sibirica) , which has
delicious beetroot-flavoured leaves. It is very shade tolerant, self-seeding in the darkest areas,
making green carpets . It will stay green all year round except in very dry weather , when it dies
down to a tuber, only to reappear as soon as the soil is moist again. There are a number of
related species, known as spring beauty, from North America which apparently taste quite
similar. They are hard to get hold of in Europe.
Another great salad plant is orpine (Sedum telephium). This and iceplant (S.spectabi/e) are
different in character from other Sedums and are sometimes placed in a separate genus. The
moist fleshy leaves make a lovely succulent addition to salads, although in hot dry weather they
can sometimes be a little bitter.
Orpine - Sedum te/ephium
Page 12
The mallows (Malva spp.) also form a frequent base ingredient in my salads. Wood mallow
(Malva sy/vestris) is very good, though it disappears completely in winter and has a habit of
being quite short lived for a perennial. Musk mallow (M.moschata) is more useful in that it
retains a rosette of leaves through most winters and so is avaitable all year round. Mallows are
often hard to identify from the leaves. which for each specie come in almost infinite number of
forms (as you can see in the photo beneath.) The flowers too are great in salads.
Musk mallow - Malva moschata
Another fantastic perennial vegetable, which needs cooking, is good kipg Henry (Chenopodium
bonus-henricus). This does very well as an entire area of plants spaced at about 30 cm apart.
It isn' t the fastest to grow in the spring, so needs a little weeding then, but soon covers the soil
entirely. The leaves and shoots are not pleasant raw - they contain oxalic acid - but steamed
for a few minutes they are delicious, not too dissimilar to ordinary annual spinach. To harvest, I
prefer to pick a few leaves off each plant , rather than cut whole plants, because this keeps the
soil covered better and doesn't set the plants back at all.
Chenopodium bonus-henricus
2008 was in a pretty poor fruit year in general. We had some very late and quite hard spring
frosts at the end of April which damaged flowers of apricots, pears, plums, almonds etc. so that
they produced few. if any, fruits later in the season. The summer was cool and very wet which
didn't help with fruit development either. However, it was interesting to see what did do well,
and plenty in the forest garden did. Apples were the one 'common' tree crop which did well and
there were plenty of uncommon crops too.
One interesting fruit which folk always remark on is the plum yew (Cepha/otaxus). J have three
forms in the forest garden, C.fortunei, C.harringtonia and c.h.drupacea. They are reliable and
regular croppers, producing their cherry-sized fruit (plum is a bit optimistic!) in early winter -
ripening early November here. The fruits are like nothing else I've tasted - sweet, with a
butterscotch - pine nut flavour. The skins are a bit tough and they have a single large seed, so
it is one of those fruits best enjoyed either ' in the field' where you can spit freely, or processed
(though I haven't made anything from the fruits myself - yet). The foliage of the bushes looks I'
similar to that of yew trees, and has recently been found to contain some entirely new anti-
cancer compounds - it is probably poisonous to livestock.
Plum yews are one of the most shade tolerant reliable fruiting plants I have come across - I
have seen them fruiting right beneath other trees - and in my forest garden I have them all in
fairly shady spots.
Cepha/otaxus harringtonia
r am often asked which are my top ten forest garden plants, and the answer slowly changes
over time as r discover some and reject others. However, consistently on that list would be the
autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata). This is a fantastic multipurpose large shrub, growing in
this country to about 5 metres high and wide. It is fast growing and wind tolerant, making a
great hedging of shelterbelt shrub; it comes into leaf in February and loses leaves in December,
so is almost evergreen. It is also a very good nitrogen-fixing plant , increasing fertility for nearby
plants. It flowers quite early in spring (March and April ) and wild bumble and other bees avidly
forage and pollinate it. Individual plants appear to be self-steri le, so two different selections are
needed for fruit to form.
The fruits are often borne abundantly (though not in 2008, the frosts reduced the crop
significantly). Fruits are like speckled redcurrants, 7-10 mm across, with a tart flavour (and
astringent too if picked before full ripeness). The birds don't go for them too much. I have
found the quickest way to harvest is to lay a tarp or sheet out beneath the bush, then pick fruits ,
dropping them as you go (and trying not to tread on them). Finally pour the fruits into a
container. I like making autumn olive jam, and I use the pulp in mixtures to dry into fruit
leathers. The seeds are just large enough to be a nuisance in processed products, so I put the
fruits through a Moulinex to remove the seeds.
Elaeagnus umbel/ata
Another reliable fruiter is the salal or shallan: Gaultheria shallon. Thi s member of the Ericaceae
is related to the blueberries and likes similar soit conditions - ie acid. It is an evergreen
spreading shrub, making a clump 1.5 m high or so, tolerating quite a lot of shade. It only
spreads slowly but needs to be contained within limits by pruning or mowing.
Salal flowers in late spring with typical bell-shaped white flowers which the bees adore. These
are followed by bluish-black fruits, the size of currants, but with the flavour of blueberries, which
ripen over a long period in summer. They are a delicious fruit to snack on in the garden, and I
sometimes make them into a jam etc. though they are not the fastest fruit to harvest.
The plant is pretty bomb-proof and indeed considered a nuisance in some regions.

Salal - Gaultheria shallon
A very ornamental large shrub, which produces a nice fruit, is the Chinese dogwood (Comus
kousa chinensis). You can often see this in neat ordered ornamental gardens, where nobody
knows the fruits are edible. A large shrub, reaching 5 m high or so and less wide, this produces
amazing flowers in summer consisti ng of four large creamy white bracts. In the middle already
is what will become the fruit.
The fruits swell and colour red, looking like knobbly red Iychees, but you need to wait and wait
until they soften - October here - then the flesh has a delicious tropical pawpaw type flavour.
The skins are a little bitter and are spat out by most people. All C.kousa can be used similarl y
but the subspecies chinensis usually has larger fruit. Like many plants, selections have been
made of this based on profuse flowering (eg. 'Mil ky Way') but this is great from the fruit eaters
point of view as they should fruit more prolifically too.
The evergreen Comus capitata has larger but similarly shaped fruits with a similar flavour, but
they ripen very late - usually into November here - and are not so rel iable in a poor summer
Chinese dogwood - Comus kousa chinensis
The hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are a wonderful source of reliably fruiting plants. Those folks
who only know the European hawthorn C.monogyna and its small fruits with little flesh or poor
flavour don't know what they are missing. There are some fantastic fruiting trees in the family,
giving fruits 15 to 30 mm in diameter, some of which are great to eat raw, others are better
cooked. The flavour of the better haws is distinctively unique, though you can detect some
apple flavours in there.
One of the best American haws is C.ellwangeriana and like the others this flowers and fru its
every year for me. Th e tree is covered in white bloom in April - clearly not susceptible to frost
damage. The fruits ripen ' in late September and early October over a few weeks. If you can
wait long enough until the fruits shake off (this may depend on the birds not taking them too
soon - I have no problems in this respect) then the easiest way to harvest is to lay a tarp or
sheet below the tree and shake the branches.
Although the fruits are nice to nibble raw, I use most of them to make fruit leathers or hawthorn
jam. The fruits of many (maybe all) haws is reput ed to be good for the heart and certainly the
Chinese have used them medicinally for many centuries.
Page 18
Crataegus ellwangeriana
At the end of April we had some Easterly gales of unusual strength, and the top half of one of
my Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) snapped off. The two pines are positioned near the pond,
and have two main functions: shade trees in summer to sit. beneath, and as sources of pine
resin, which has been tapped for the last 3 years from one of the trees .
Tapping pines for resin is a big worldwide business, mainly carried out now where labour is still
cheap. A rectangle of bark (i nner plus outer) is stripped off, allowing the resin to ooze out of
the wood beneath. This is directed onto a spout and into a collecting vessel. Resin runs better
in warm weather and my yield last summer was poor compared with previous years.
Commercially, resin is distilled to produce rosin and turpentine - some two-thirds of the worlds
turpentine still originates from pine trees. I have used resin directly as a sealant, and a
neighbouring bronze forging workshop uses my rosin (which is apparently essential in bronze
Anyway, a 6 metre section of pine tree landed on the ground after the gale, with a diameter of
about 30 cm at largest. I decided to inoculate this with a type of oyster mushroom which grows
on confers called Indian oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus). After sourcing some dowel spawn from
Ann Miller (www.annforfungi.co.uk/) I duly used several hundred in the main trunk, drilling and
inoculating where it dropped. The remaining dowels were used in the smaller side branches
which were trimmed oH. After waxing over the inoculating holes, I just have to wait now. The
fungus will take at least a year to full y colonise the log, so perhaps in autumn 2009 when
conditions are right , delicious mushrooms will start appearing. The large log should produce
mushrooms for many years.
Monterey pine trunk showing inoculation holes
One of the more unusual small trees in the forest garden is the snowbell tree, Ha/esia carolina,
which is another plant from the USA. This is rarely seen in this country, even though it is very
ornamental in spring when covered in the white bell-like flowers. These flowers are an
ornamental addition to a spring salad, though not highly flavoured.
I mainly grow this plant for the fruits, though. These are unlike most other tree fruits and
consist of a single seed surrounded by a fleshy four-winged structure which dries out and
hardens as the seeds ripen in autumn. The time to eat this is the first three weeks of July,
when the whole fruit, seed and all, is crisp and juicy, with a pea I cucumber flavour. Great in
salads or stir fried like mange tout peas. You can 't eat them after this period - they are too
The tree is slow growing - mine is only 2.5 metres high after 12 years - which is a great
advantage for hand harvesting the fruits. I haven't had to prune mine at all but it should be
easy to do so when necessary.
Halesia carolina - flowers and fruits
A GROFORES TRY NEWS Vol 17 No 2 Page 21
~ = m ~ ~ S 2 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One of my very top salad plants in the forest garden is the small leaved lime tree (TiNa cordata).
The young leaves from this find there way into most of the salads I make, as a base ingredient
instead of something more conventional like lettuce. More flavourful ingredients - herbs etc. -
get added to make a fully flavoured salad. These trees get coppiced (every 4-5 years) so t treat
them as shrubs in the design . They produce young leaves all through the growing season at
the tips of branches; leaves from shady parts of the canopy are often also tender enough to
Tilia cordata, 1 year after coppicing
Page 22
I have also started planting climbers near to lime trees when they are coppiced. The idea is
that the climber - for example a hardy kiwi vine - climbs and clambers through the tree as it
grows, and makes for the outer edge of the canopy where light conditions are good and it will
fruit. When the tree is coppi ced in another 4-5 years, the kiwi vine will be coppiced too (the
coppicing is more like pollarding in fact, at a height of about 1.2 m.) Thi s keeps the kiwi vine
manageable and the crop within reach. If you were to train a k.iwi vine into a large tree and just
let is go, it will climb 30 m high, and fruit at the top - not very useful!
Coppiced lime tree with male and female hardy kiwi vines
Polygonatum odoratum
Another perennial edible I have got more enthusiastic about in the least few years is Solomon' s
seal (Polygonatum spp.) The young shoots of this are harvested rather like asparagus and
eaten lightly steamed - fantastic. All Polygonatum can be used, the one I am harvesting at the
moment in P.odoratum, which grows about 75 em high, but I have recently planted a whole area
of the larger P.biflofum which grows to 1.5 or 2 m high and should be able to hold its own better

against all comers.
The ground cover raspberries - various evergreen trailing members of the Rubus family - are
an essential part of my forest garden perennial layer, making a weedproof layer especially in
shade. The Nepalese raspberry, R.nepalensis, is my favourite as it stays low and interferes
little with other plants or foot traffic. The Japanese R.trico/or, though larger and requiring some
maintenance to keep it low (mainly being walked on), seems to be a better fruiter and is a
regular nibble as I walk through the garden in late summer and early autumn. I sometimes
process the fruits but they don't handle well and need to be processed Quickly.
Rubus tricolor
I always propagate a few annuals from seed each year to plant out in the forest garden, which
do not selfseed reliably. One of these is nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), of which I prefer the
scrambling forms which can clamber up shrubs, fences etc to a height of 2 m or so. Once these
scrambling plants are away they need no tending, merely harvesting. The peppery leaves and
flowers go into salads, and the young seeds used in pickles and chutneys like capers. This
year I put some plants beneath my shed south wall where I have a peach tree being fantrained ,
and they did spectacularly well, intertwining with the peach branches. The peach remained free
of peach leaf curl despite it being a bad year for the disease, and by coincidence I recently read
a comment by a grower in New Zealand stating that he found that Nasturtium grown with
peaches regularly kept away this disease. I might try it again in 2009 then!
Nasturtium majus underplanted with trefoil (Medicago lupulina)
The temperate pepper trees - Zanthoxylum species - are highly reliable croppers which I am
increasingly impressed by. They flower in summer, so escape any frost problems, and
absolutely buzz with honey bees when in bloom even though the flowers to us humans look
Quite insignificant.
My own favourite is one of the Szechuan peppers, Z.schinifolium. although the chef at the next-
door Schumacher College prefers using the Nepalese pepper (Z.a/alum) which is less citrus-ey
and more black peppery in fragrance.
This last point reminds me t hat people have very different palettes, and when I show folk
around the forest garden and we try something, there is usually a spectrum of opinions from
'great ' to ' hmmm' or even ' yuk' on occasion. You can't please all of the palettes all of the time,
clearly. Likewise with acidity of fruits, I know of one or two people who will chomp into fruits of
northern lemon (Chaenomeles japonica) with relish, whilst they are too acid for me to enjoy
fresh from the bush.
The forest garden will never be ' finished' or ' complete' because all plants die sometime of
course. One or two also get removed deliberately. This year I lost my blue bean (Decaisnea
fargesi/) which gave up in an increasingly shady location. So at least I now know it's shade
tolerance fairly exactly! I like the pulp from the blue pods so will replant a new one where it will
Zanthoxylum alatum
get enough light.
Martin Crawford, February 2009.
Stop Press!
The Dartington forest garden and the ART nut trials are featured on:
A Farm tor the Future - Natural World
Friday February 20th BBC 2 at 8pm, and repeated on Sunday the 22nd of February.
You should be able to watch the program on the BBC website (www.bbc.co.uk) for several
weeks after the transmission date.
Woad as an indigo crop
In the middle ages, woad {lsatis tinctorial crops were grown in many parts of England as a
source.of indigo. ~ h e importation of tropical indigo, which began in the 1 ih century, and the
commelcialisation of synthetic i'ndigo at the end of the 19
century, put an end to woad
cultivation here. In recent years increased interest in sustainability and traceability in the textile
industry is stimulating a return to woad cultivation in the UK. Currently crops of woad for indigo
production are grown on a commercial scale in France. Italy and Norfolk, UK.
Woad does not contain indigo itself, but indoxyl compounds that yield indigo when the freshly
harvested leaves are extracted. Indigo is usually extracted on-farm or at an extraction centre
near the source of the leaves. Indigo always has the same chemical structure, whatever the
source, and woad indigo has to compete economically with synthetically=produced indigo which
is purer but is increasing in price. Woad indigo can vary in purity from 5 to 60%; even a sample
that is 5% pure looks blue because the impurities (chalk, soil samples and leaf material) are
coated by the indigo itself. Increased purity comes from effective leaf washing and high
concentrations of indoxyl in the leaves. Natural indigo from tropical crops usually has a higher
purity than woad indigo but there appears to be a purity ceiling of 60% which is rarely
surpassed. Dyers have been accustomed over the last century to the high purity (over 95%) of
synthetic indigo so using naturally-sourced indigo requires a change in attitude and dyeing
Annual usage of indigo is some 7,000 tonnes, nearly all of which is used to dye denim blue
(about one billion pairs of jeans are produced annually.)
Woad is a biennial member of the 8rassicaceae and has the same problems to face in terms of
pests, diseases etc. as other brassicas. It prefers an open-structured, well-drained, deep soil
with good humus and mineral levels. Once established it has a deep taproot system which
enables it to withstand a period of drought. .
Germination can occur when temperatures are over 2 to 4C and growth requires temperatures
over 5C. Temperatures of 20 to 25C are optimal for leaf development and expansion. In
natural conditions, woad seeds would germinate in late summer, pass the winter in a rosette
form, and flower in the following spring, with new seed produced in the summer. It is especially
frost resistant in the rosette stage.
For indigo production, though, leaves from the rosette form are harvested, so to obtain
maximum yield it is nece'ssary to maximise the rosette stage by sowing as early as possible
without allowing the plants to flower in the first year. The plant is able to re-grow after leaf
harvesting (as long as it has sufficient water and nutrients) so more than one harvest is possible
from a single crop. Rolling after sowing provides a level soil surface which aids the eventual
leaf harvest - leaves are cut a short distance from the soil surface.
Emergence occurs 2-3 weeks after sowing and complete cover establishes 6-8 weeks later. A
wet spring can reduce germination and crop establishment. Woad is a poor competitor when
young so that effective weed control in the early stages is essential.
Many of the major pests that affect brassica crops also affect woad including flea beetle, large
white butterfly. and pigeons. Diseases include powdery mildew.
Page 28
Crops require good levels of the major nutrients and reasonably good harvests ' should produce
about 90 tonnes/ha of fresh leaf in a season.
To maximise the indigo yield, the rosette of leaves is harvested repeatedly after allowing for a
period of regrowth. Modified spinach or bean harvesters are used, depending on what is
around locally.
Woad in the rosette form (source: Wikipedia)
The final yield of indigo depends on two factors: the indoxyl content of the leaves and the yield
of leaves, and both are affected by the weather. Row distance is important - crops grown in
narrow rows (15 em apart) are more upright which makes harvesting more effecti ve.
Indigo extraction
Special equipment has been produced for a high throughput extraction, but indigo can be
extracted using equipment readily avai labl y on farm. Freshl y harvested leaves are washed in
cold water, the steeped in water at 7075C for 10 minutes (using 2 litres water per 1 kg of leaf).
The steep water is cooled, filtered , and slurried lime added to pH 11 . Air is then pumped
through the alkaline liquid for at least 20 minutes, and the deep blue precipitate of indigo is
allowed to settle. The crude indigo is washed in acid and then clean water, and dried to a deep
blue cake. The spent leaves are composted, and the waste water returned to the land.
Recent research
Recent trials have grown indigo yielding crops in Spain, Italy, Germany, UK and Finland. The
crops have been woad (lsatis tinctorial, Chinese woad (Isatis indigotica) , and polygonum
(Polygonum tinctorium). Researchers found that woad grows well in all the climatic zones
examined, with yields of indigo up to 100 kgfha; Chinese woad gives higher yields, but is less
reliable because of bolting and disease susceptibility; while polygonum yields well , and is more
suited to Central Europe and the Mediterranean, but tolerates neither drought nor very high
John, P: Woad as an indigo crop. EMRA Novel Crops Members day report - October 2008.
Traditional Andean cultivation systems:
implications for sustainable land use
High A ~ d e a n cultures constitute one of the best examples of Jongterm. large scale
experimentation in sustainable land use. The Central Andes have a temperate to cool climate
and tubers are the crops grown at the highest altitudes, e.g. potato (possibly the highest
altitude crop in the world) . ulluCQ, eca and mashua. Yields are lower than maximum yields
obtained with intensive agriculture as there is a trade-off between productivity, risk
management. external subsidies and degradation.
Key elements of Andean experimentation are: distributed research and development for
hundreds to thousands of years, during which climates and cultures have changed dramatically;
high native biodiversity; a culture of careful observation, selection, breeding, conservation and
exchange of genetic varieties; and a knowledge intensive management strategy taking
advantage of biodiversity and three-dimensional landscape and cultural heterogeneity,
maintaining high diversity.
These elements have led to the development of land use management strategies resilient to
environmental variability. However, this knowledge is rapidly deteriorating with the synergistic
effects of population and consumption growth, poverty and free-market economies as they
steam roll further and further into remote Andean valleys.
Environmental context
Climate. Ranging from tropical sea level to permanent glaciated peaks, the environment of the
Central Andes is hugely helerogeneous. This article refers to the highland environments
characteristically occupied by the Huari , Tiahuanaco and Inca civilizations who inherited most of
the high altitude tuber growing techniques (these civilizations controlled or developed close
contacts and exchanges with lower areas as well). This gives a range of altitudes from around
2500 to 4500 m, mean annual temperatures from 19 to 5C and rainfall from 250 to 1000 mm.
From an agricultural point of view, critical factors are steepness of the terrain in most areas, low
and/or highly variable rainfall, low soil fertility, and low temperatures (frosts) at the highest
altitudes. Seas'onal temperature variations are moderate and within ranges similar to potato
growing areas of New Zealand or Ireland, but rainfall is concentrated in summer while winter
months are dry.
Frosts. The number of ground frosts per year in the Central Andes rises from around 30 at
3500 m to 100 at 3900 m and 150-300 at 4200 m. By 4500 m, frosts occur almost daily
throughout the year. Cyrrent climatic warming may mean that frost frequency is rapidly
diminishing, part of the reason for a rising cultivation line. It is interesting to note that
cultivation of potato reaches 4500 m in the Andes, while in lowland areas such as New Zealand
it is limited to areas with less than 100 frost days.
Variability. In addition to mean value of climate parameters, the everyday survival of crops
depends most importantly on variability.
Pressure. At the highest levels of cultivation, Andean cultures are approaching the half-way
point of atmospheric mass. Total pressure, and the partial pressure of essential life- giving
gases oxygen and carbon dioxide are reduced to -60% of their sea level values, possibly
approaching physiol ogical limits to carbon accumulation.
Page 30
Andean systems and techniques were developed through millennia of major environmental and
cultural changes, mostly well before the Inca empire (ca. A.D.). The time of entry of
the first inhabitants of South Ameri ca and the Andes is debated, but early human occupation in
South America is evidenced by 11500 B.P. By the Middle Pre-ceramic (8000-5000 B.P .),
peppers (Capsicum spp.) , beans (Phaseo/us spp.) , lucuma (Pouleria lucuma = Lucuma bifera),
quinoa (Chenopodium quinua), canihua (Chenopodium pallidicaule), potato (Solanum
tuberosum and other species), ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) and Dca (Oxalis tuberosa) were
domesticated. Maize was first domesticated in Central America and appeared early on the
Peruvian coast (by 6000 8.P.), it arrived later in the Central Andes during the Early Horizon
(2900-2000 B.P.).
By the time of the Inca empire. dozens of species and of cultivars of crops were
cultivated within the empire although allegedly terraces were only used for maize cultivation.
The botanist O.F. Cook, a member of the scientific expedition that discovered the ruins of
Machu Picchu, mentions that, in the sixteenth century, more domesticated species existed in
the Andes than in Asia or Africa. Several of the worlds most important crops originated in the
Andes (e.g. potato) or were further developed there (e.g. maize). The estimated population at
the beginning of the 1500s was similar to what it is today for the same region (10 to 12 million
for the Inca empire as a whole). Yet in spite of this population density, early Spanish
chroniclers of the central Andes report on a high quality of life, well fed, healthy, long-lived and
well clothed population. The paradox of a well fed, large population, at the extremes of climatic
conditions requires more than an understanding of what is happening at a particular site (the
farm scale). It seems part of the explanation of the paradox was the regional scale integration
of the agro-economic system across 35 altitudinal levels from sea level to the highest cultivation
and back down to Amazonian lowlands.
The Andean system of the 1530s suffered the cataclysmic disruptions caused by the Spanish
invasion (1532), accompanying diseases (a smallpox epidemic started in advance of the
physical arrival of the Spanish. circa 1525) and introduced plants and animals. Almost
contemporaneously (around 1550) the climate entered a cooler and wetter phase of the Little
Ice Age. After 1532, both native populations and landscapes experienced rapid decline and
degradation. Estimates of mortality suggest that 50 - 80% of the Indian population of the Andes
died of a mix of diseases (possibly the major reason), massacres and slavery within 50 years of
European contact.
After the decimation of the indigenous people, the majority of the rural landscape was
abandoned. The increasing population during the 20th century, coupled with increasing
demand for commercial exploitation from foreign sources and improved technological access
into the mountains, led to increasing deforestation, de-vegetation and soil erosion in the last
decades. After these upheavals it is somewhat surprising that any tradition would have
survived from five centuries ago and more.
Elements of agricultural management systems
Cultivation Techniques and Tools
The following brief descriptions use common local names which may vary in meaning between
regions. Some of these techniques are still widely used, whereas others are only known
through chronicles and archaeological remains (e.g. mahamaes).
Modification of Terrain
As recently as 1972. 48% of all agricultural land in the Peruvian mountains was on andenes
(terraces, 1 million hal, camellones (mounds-troughs, 78000 hal and cochas (53 000 hal
Page 31
fS 73
Chuki. Planting (especially of tubers) in fallow ground by simply digging a small individual hole
for each tuber. This provides minimal soil disturbance and retains the greatest possible amount
of moisture, organiC matter, and soil biota.
Chacmay or chajmay. Soil preparation involving the use of the chaquitacllas, a ubiquitous wood
and metal manual plough. Two turves are cut out and turned over completely to form the
mound and furrow. This work is usually done by teams of men and women. Performed
particulally when the year is e x p ~ c t e d to be rainy and when the soil has poor drainage. The
same process can be used after planting with the Chuki technique as a form of mounding.
Andenes or terrazas. Terraces cover large areas of the steep slopes of the Central Andes and
have resulted in the movement of millions of tons of earth and stone. In pre-Columbian times,
terraces in key areas were built as part of a highly organised state enterprise. Terraces were
also built, and are still built today, in a more haphazard and progressive fashion to slow
downward soil creep and facilitate water infiltration and irrigation.
Camel/ones or huaro-huaro. Large scale mounds and troughs allowed the cultivation of tubers
and other crops on flat land subject to flooding. Troughs Were fill ed with water, allowing not
only irrigation but also fertilisation (through the growth of nitrogen fixing algae) and secondary
production of fish . In addition, the water captured solar heat during the day and reduced the
risk of frost at night. Large extensions of camellones can still be seen around lake Titicaca, but
the system was also used at lower altitudes (Moxos).
Mahamaes or chacras ahondadas. In coastal deserts, sand was excavated to levels close to
phreatic water. Spanish chronicles described the luxuriant crops produced in these conditions.
Cochas. These were used in the highlands, excavations were made to produce a small lake
that was surrounded by well irrigated potato fields.
Canchas. Small stone corrars where stock is held at night. After some time of accumulating
fertility, the area is planted in tubers, which benefit both from the increased soil fertility and heat
radiated from the stones at night.
Irrigation. Extensive aqueducts and canals for irrigation in highlands as well as western desert
Soil Fertility. Maintenance and Enhancement
In pre-Columbian times the large scale transport 9f fertile top soil from valley bottoms to
terraces and of guano from coast to highland were organised by the state. Today grazing stock
are placed on future cultivation sites and canchas, and dung is collected from other sites and
from overnighting corrals to be dispersed on culti vation plots. Fallow, combined with grazing
rotation to better use and restore soil fertility, and low impact tillage are combined to maintain
and improve soils.
Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases are controlled by a variety of integrated approaches: timing of planting,
selecting of healthy seed tubers , from time to time replanting with true seed, bio-repellent or
biocide plants (e.g. muiia, Satureja or Minthostachys). Dung is burnt and the ashes dispersed
at the time of sowing, which has the double benefit of controlling fungal diseases of some
potato types and providing nutrients. The distribution of small parcel-sizes together with multi-
cropping lead to reduced pests and diseases.
Page 32
Organisation of time
Andean farmers determine when and where to plant each crop, how much and by what method,
through a complex decision making process. This involves communal discussions in which a
variety of elements are considered: cropping history of each site and its performance, distance
and ease of access, crop seed availability and the need to either change or keep seed from the
previous year, environmental indicators that suggest weather patterns in the next months,
people available for work, etc. Natural indicators (e.g. timing of flowering , winter solstice) lead
to specific actions. Decision making in agriculture is linked to deeper perceived universal forces
through oral tradition, rituals and religion. Spirits of the mountains ~ m d gods of the earth are
invoked throughout with requests for good crops.
Modern agriculture recognises the beneficial effects of rotation, but is often compelled by
market forces to disregard these benefits. Preferred crop rotations in the Ecuadorian Andes, in
terms of best yields and minimum weed loads, include planting potato followed by non-fertilised
quinoa, and ulluco followed by quinoa with or without fertilisation. In Chajaya, Bolivia, rotations
vary from the lower sections (-3200-3800 m, oca, barley/wheat, beans, 4 years fallow) to the
higher sections (-3600-4200 m, potato, oca, oats, 4 years fallow). In nearby Chullina (3250-
3550 m) the rotation includes more native tubers, e.g. potato then oca, mashua and ulluco,
then barley and wheat, then four years fallow (with grazing). Around Titicaca, rotation may be
potato, quinua, barley, oats, 4-5 years fallow, or potato, oca, barley, beans, fal!ow.
Long-term storage of food was developed to a high degree of sophistication by Andean cultures.
Complex procedures finely attuned to each product and environmental condition aJlow storing of
tubers for several years (up to 30 years) after freeze-drying or drying. Freeze-drying of tubers
(chuno, moraya, ckaya) and drying of meat (charki ) are important elements contributing to
sustainability, ensuring buffering of supply fluctuations, transport and redistribution, and
consequently facilitating the development of large cities and civilizations.
Spatial Organisation
Cultivation of Multiple Plots in Different Conditions
In anyone season a farmer or community will typically cultivate several different plots with the
same species of crop, choosing contrasting soils and environmental conditions. For example,
potato will be cultivated on terraces on a high slope, on a gentler mid-altitude slope and on the
flat vaHey bottom. In this way the farmer ensures some production in almost any climatic
situation. If the year is frosty, the valley and high altitude crop may suffer but the mid-altitude
crop will prosper. If the year is dry, the middle site may suffer more than the other. Within a
single plot, risk is reduced by polyculture and by multiple cultivation methods. For example, half
of the plot may be cultivated with rows going along the 39 contours, the other half going across
them. This practice can still be observed in several areas of the Cusco Department, although it
is not widespread.
This strategy epitomises the difference between orthodox and Andean cultivation concepts.
Orthodox agriculture and economic systems conceive only of optimisation: there must be a
single. best way to cultivate. In Western philosophy, an experimental station would tryout both
row orientations, see which one produced the most and/or lost less soil, then recommend that
one. The Andean farmer seeks security of a minimum production. In a wet year or cold year,
the vertical rows will allow better drainage of water and cold air. Horizontal rows will have
excess water ponding, root rotting and potential heavy losses from frost. In a dry or less frosty
year, the horizontal rows will capture the little available water and produce better. Following the
orthodox philosophy of a single system may produce a bumper crop one year, followed by
famine the next. The Andean system ensures at least half of the plot will produce reasonably
well regardless of conditions. At a large scale, villages and regions make the most of the high
ecological heterogeneity by developing a permeable network of land uses. Through communal
control of a vertical gradient , expanded even more by trade and reciprocal interactions between
communities,. Andean people have at their disposal a diverse source of crops and foods that
grow best in coof to tropical climates.
Size of land. In the 17 higher districts of the Cusco Department , Peru, (>3000 m,
more highly populated) 93% of properties are less than 5 ha, the mean parcel size is 0.37 ha
and the average cultivated area per person in the overall population is 0. 14 ha. In comparison,
in the two lower, more market oriented, districts (-650 m) only 22% of properties are less than 5
ha, the mean property size is 1.3 ha and the cultivated area per person is 0.74 ha. For
comparison, the mean size of farms for the 13 larger crops in the USA is 32.4 ha.
It is common sense that spreading eggs into many baskets is a strategy of risk avoidance.
Spatial and temporal data show the stabilising effect of diversity on crop production, even in a
catastrophic year. As theory predicts, empirical data show that this risk avoidance comes at a
cost of foregoing maximum possible productivity.
Cultivation of many different crops within small areas (polyculture), as well as temporal rotation ,
was developed to manage risk as well as better utilise soil nutrients at various depths. Farmers
constantly ensure they have a di verse genetic stock of material, both within species and of
different species. Different species and varieties are planted in separate plots or in rows side
by side and occasionally mixed within rows . Considerable labour is used to control weeds by
manual methods. However, weeds and weed control are not in the "debit- of accounts because
weeds are at least partially transformed into a forage crop. Weeds are carried home to feed
stock during the summer, becoming a useful element of the multicropping system. Weeds are
also used as food , aromatic herbs and medicine.
Results of traditional management systems
Soil Fertility
Is maintained in areas with more traditional cultivation systems.
Most measured yields in Andean systems are low in conventional yield terms (typically 40-70%
of yields from high input chemical-based agriculture). However, such yields are achieved under
organic management with soil fertility and structure being maintained over time and on addition
are more consistent over time and are not subsidised by fossil fuels, producing toxic pollutants
or mortgaging soils of future generations.
Ecological theory explains the trade offs between productivity and sustain ability: reaching
higher productivity means higher risk of slumps and less resilience. Andean cultivation puts
into practice a management system with yields that may be the maximum possible yields that
can be maintained over the longterm with minimal negative impacts. This is potentially lower
than the ' maximum yield' as conceived by orthodox agriculture, which only considers the short
Andean people use a complex system of linked mechanisms to even out f ood supply and buffer
against risk: temporal (long-term storage) , spatial and diversity (numerous plots in different
conditions, numerous varieties and species, long distance exchanges) and social reciprocity
(barter and exchange for services allowing a buffering effect of equalisation).
The resilience of Central Andean traditions has several concurrent explanations. The high
mountain conditions have not proved suitable for the large-scale advance of Western society
and methods, at least until recent times. With some notable exceptions (e.g. barley) , above
3800 m most crops and methods are still ancient, not just because the culture may want it so,
but because there is no choice: Western crops and methods do not easily survive. Another
explanation (not mutually exclusive) for the survival of the Andean knowledge is that it functions
as a distributed network. Unlike orthodox systems, which rely on centralised research and
knowledge repositories (fragile to disruptions), distributed networks are virtually indestructible
even after large portions have been eliminated (as happened in the XVI and XVII centuries).
Such networks are, however, susceptible to changes affecting all the nodes in the same way,
such as happens with cultural disruptions produced by Western education, military service,
media and markets.
There are clearly elements of Andean cultivation which can individually or together lead to
sustainabiJity: Soi l fertility - maintained; yields - moderate and sustained by averaging through
space and time; democratic control structures (communal decision making); capability for
adaptation (resilience through centuries of change) . Unfortunately, these elements are rapidly
retreating under the advance of orthodox cultivation systems pushed by international market
Many elements of Andean cultivation systems have survived with little c h a n g ~ over centuries of
massive disruptions. These elements show high resilience and adaptation to external climate
change (Le. through changing and adapting vertical distribution of land use and consequent
fluidity of exchange networks). They have shown less resilience to socia-economic change
affecting the matrix of the control system, leading to unequal distribution of resources, wealth,
soil degradation, poverty and hunger.
Halloy, S R P, Ortega, R, Yager, K & Seimon, A: Traditional Andean Cultivation Systems and
Implications for Sustainable Land Use. Acta Hart. 670, ISHS 2005. pp 31-55.
Viola: the violets
The violets comprise a large number of annual or perennial herbs and small shrubs from
temperate regions of the world. They have neem cultivated commercially for their uses in
perfumery and confectionary for ay least 2,500 years
Most Viola members prefer a cool, moist, well-drained, humus-ri ch soil in partial or dappled
shade and protection from scorching winds - ie woodland or woodland edge conditions. They
tolerate alkaline (limestone) soils but becomes chlorotic if the pH is too high; ideal pH is 6 to
6.5, but usually pH 5.5 to 7 is fine. Most are quite hardy (see hardiness zone number in above
table where known) .
Some species are prone to damage from slugs, snai ls and wood lice, which eat the leaves.
Page 35
Propagate by seed (easy with some species such as pansies and sweet violet ), from rooted
runners, or by di vision (in autumn or immedi ately after flowering) , or by cuttings of young growth
in late summer or early autumn.
Useful species
All these are perennial except the annual V.arvensis, although V.frico/or can be an annual or
short li yed.
Latin name Common name
Viola acuminata
!Vio/a adunca IWestern dog violet I IApril-May
IViola arvensis IField pansy
IViola alba
IViola biffora
Viola brevistipulata
lViola canadensis ICanada violet IApril-July
!Viuola canescens
]Viola canina IDog violet IJuly-August
IViola Gollina
IViola cornuta IHorned violet
10.2 10.2 15
Viola diffusa
Viola epipsela 0.13 5
Viola glabella Stream violet 0.1 0.2 5 April-May
Viola gracilis
E 0.3 9?
Viola grypoceras 0.3
IV,ola hederacea IAustrallan violet
101 I 18
IViola japonica
Viola keiskei 0.15
Viola labradorica Labrador violet E 0.1 0.3 2 April-May
Viola langsdorffii Alaska violet 0.1 April -May
Viola mandschurica Manchurian violet 0.2 8
IV,ola mira bills IJune-July
!Viola ob/iqua IMarsh blue violet IMay-July
Viola obtusa
Viola odorata Sweet violet Feb-April
]Viola palmata !Palmate violet [April -May
Viola patrini
IViola pedata IBird's foot violet
10.05 10.0814
IViola pedunculata [Grass pansy
I I 18
IViola pinnala I
10.1 I 15
IViola prionanlha I
I I I [
!Vio/a ..::eichanbachianal 10.15 1 18 ...1
[ &
flatin name
ICommon name IEvergreen IHI IWlh IHdy IFlowers
IViola riviniana IWood violel I 1
2 I 15 IApril-June
IRedwood violel
IE 10.08 1 I I [Viola sempervirens
Viola septentrionalis Northern blue May-July
IViola sororaria IWooly blue violet IMarch-June
Viola tokubuchiana
Viola tricolor Heartsease
lViola vaginata
lViola variegata
Viola verecunda
Viola violacea
IViola x wittrockiana [Pansy
IViola ______ -,-__ _ IApril-M=ay'-__ _
General uses
All members of Viola have more or less pleasant edible leaves. flower buds and flowers - all
raw or cooked. The leaves The leaves have a mucilaginous texture and thicken stews and
soups. Note that eating flower buds or flowers of species with yellow flo,+,ers can apparently
cause diarrhoea if eaten in large quantities. Reports of the roots being eaten should be treated
with scepticism as many are know to be emetic.
A tea can be made from the leaves, which are usually dried first.
The flowers of most if not all species are attractive to bees.
Some species are used medicinally while others make a good ground cover in shady places
beneath other plants, though they make take a year or two to establish (see below for details.)
Viola alba
This can be used as a ground cover plant - space at 30 cm apart.
Viola arvensis
This is used medicinally is Russia, the stems, leaves and flowers used as a galenical.
Viola biflora
This has been used medicinally: the flowers are antispasmodic. diaphoretic. emollient and
pectoral; the leaves are emollient and laxative.
Viola canadensis
This has been used medicinally: a tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of
pain in the bladder region.
Viola canescens
This Himalayan species is widely used medicinally - a decoction of the fresh leaves is used to
treat coughs and colds.
Viola corn uta
This is a useful ground cover plant for a cool open situation - space at 60 cm apart
Viola diffusa
This has been used medicinally: the whole plant is used in the treatment of abscesses. aplastic
anaemia. boils. cough. fever . gas. leukaemia, mastitis and mumps.
Viola glabella
This can be used as a ground cover plant - space at 30 cm apart
Viola gracilis
This can be used as a ground cover plant - space at 20 cm apart
Viola hederacea
This can be used as a ground cover plant - space at 30 cm apart
Viola japonica
This has been used medicinally, being anodyne, antiphlogistic, depurative; the whole plant is
used in the treatment of abscesses, boils, conjunctivitis, hepatitis, jaundice, laryngitis and
ulcers. The root is reportedly cooked and eaten - used to thicken soups.
Viola labradorica
This is a good ground cover plant, fast spreading but slow to thicken up - space at 30 cm apart
Viola mandschurica
The root of this is reportedly cooked and eaten.
Viola mirabilis
This has been used medicinally as a cardiac
Viola ob/iqua
This is a good ground cover plant but it is slow to thicken up - space at 30 cm apart. Self-sows
Viola odorata
Sweet violet has a long and proven history of folk use, especially in the treatment of cancer and
whooping cough. The whole plant is antiinflammatory, diaphoretic, diuretic, emoliient,
expectorant, and laxative. It is taken internally in the treatment of bronchitis, respiratory
catarrh, coughs, asthma, and cancer of the breast , lungs or digestive tract. Externally, it is
used to treat mouth and throat infections. It can either be used fresh, or harvested when it
comes into flower and then be' dried for later use.
The flowers are demulcent and emollient. They are used in the treatment of biliousness and
lung troubles. The petals are made into a syrup and used in the treatment of infantile disorders.
The seeds are diuretic and purgative. Tt)ey have been used in the treatment of urinary
Recent research has confirmed the value of Viola odorata as an antiinflammatory and its
possible use as an alternative and safer medicinal agent than corticosteroids in treatment of
inflammatory conditions of the lung. The anti-inflammatory effects may be due to the salicylate
contents but these must be working in combination with other compounds.
A homeopathic remedy is made from the whole fresh plant. It is considered useful in the
treatment of spasmodic coughs and rheumatism of the wrist.
The essential oil from the flowers and leaves is used in perfumery and as a flavouring in
confectionary (sweets, baked goods, ice cream) , liqueurs and breath fresheners. 1000kg (1
tonne) of leaves produces about 300 - 400kg absolute. The essential oil from the flowers is
also used in aromatherapy in the treatment of bronchial complaints, exhaustion and skin
A pigment extracted from the flowers is used as a litmus to test for acids and alkalines.
Plants can be grown as a ground cover - space at 20 cm apart
A good butterfly plant
Viola palmata
This has been used medicinally as an emoilient.
- - -
Viola patrin;
This species has a long history of folk use in the treatment of cancer and other diseases. The
fresh roots are mashed and used as a poultice for abscesses. The plant is suppurative for
abscesses, cancer, inflammations and ulcers.
Viola pinnata
This has been used medicinally as an anodyne, antiseptic, blood tonic.
Viola reichanbachiana
This has been used medicinally: the plant is used as a pectoral in the treatment of chest
complaints including tubercular problems. It has also been used to treat cholera. The stems,
leaves and flowers are bruised and applied to foul sores, wounds, bites and stings.
Viola riviniana
Plants can be grown as a ground cover - space at 30 em apart. A good butterfly plant.
Viola septentrionalis
Plants can be grown as a ground cover - space at 30 cm apart.
Viola sororaria
Plants can be grown as a ground cover - space at 30 em apart.
Viola tricolor
Heartsease has a long history of herbal use and was at one time in high repute as a treatment
for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and a wide range of other complaints. The herb is anodyne,
anti-asthmatic, antiinflammatory, cardiac, demulcent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient,
expectorant, laxative and vulnerary. It is still in use as an ointment for treating eczema and
other skin complaints. The plant is harvested from June to August and dried for later use.
A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire plant , used in the treatment of cutaneous
Yellow, green and blue-green dyes are obtained from the flowers.
The leaves can be used in pJace of litmus in testing for acids and alkalis.
Plants can be grown as a ground cover - space at 30 cm apart.
Viola vaginata
The root is reportedly eaten when cooked - used to thicken soups.
Viola verecunda
This has been used medicinally: the leaves are crushed and applied to cuts , swellings, ulcers
and wounds.
Viola yedoensis
This has been used medicinally: the whole plant is antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antipyretic
and depurative. It is used internally in the treatment of boils, carbuncles, snakebite, skin
disorders, mumps etc. The plant is harvested when in flower and dried for later use.
Crawford, M: Ground Cover Plants. A.R.T. , 1997.
Huxley, A: The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan Reference, 1999.
Koochek, M H et aJ: The Effectiveness of Viola odorata.. Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal
Plants . Vol 10(2) 2002. 95103.
Mamedov, N et al: Medicinal Plants Used for the Treatment of Bronchial Asthma in Russia and
Central Asia. Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, Vol 8(2/ 3) 2001 , 91 - 117.
NautiyaJ, S et al: Medicinal Plant Resources in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in the Central
Himalayas. Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, Vol 8(4) 2001, 47-64.
Plants for a future database, 2009.
Page 40
Agroforestry is the integration of trees and agriculturel horticulture to produce a
diverse, productive and resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade and emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
tall and small trees, shrubs and ground layers in a self-sustaining, interconnected
and productive system.
Agroforestry News is published by the Agroforestry Research Trust four times a
year in November, February, May and August. Subscription rates are:
21 per year in Britain and the E.U. (17 unwaged). 39 I 2 years.
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A list of back issue contents is included in our current catalogue, available on
request for 4 x 1 st class stamps. Back issues cost 4.00 per copy including
postage (5.00 outside the E.U.) Please make cheques payable to 'Agroforestry
Research Trust' , and send to: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon,
Dartington, Totnes, Devon, T09 6JT, UK. Fax/telephone: +44 (0)1803 840776.
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk. Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk.
Agroforestry Research Trust
The Trust is a charity registered in England (Reg. No. 1 007440) , with the object to
research into temperate tree, shrub and other crops, and agroforestry systems, and
to disseminate the results through booklets, Agroforestry News, and other
. publications. The Trust depends on donations and sales of publications, seeds and
plants to fund its work, which includes various practical research projects.
Agroforestry News
The Campanulas
Volume 17 Number 3 May 2009
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 17 Number 4 August 2009
2 News
5 Forest gardens and carbon sequestration
7 Native plants: Restoring to an idea
11 Greek agroforestry systems
20 Ecosystem services and environmental
Benefits of agroforestry
24 Black truffles and agroforestry
30 Autumn olive in forestry
34 Agroforestry in Portugal
37 Agroforestry in the Netherlands
38 Book review: The Living Landscape
39 Courses in 2010
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a Gommon format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Tolnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT. UK Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Page 1
Prairie Fruit
is one of the cqldest provinces in Canada. At times temperatures can plummet
below -40C, not a place where you would expect tasty cherries and honeysuckles to grow
vigorously. Nonetheless, through the hard work of breeding programs and growers groups, the
production of fruit is sprouting up across the province like never before.
The Saskatchewan Dwarf Sour Cherry Prunus cerasus
was developed at the University a
f Saskatchewan in the mid-1990s. The first Dwarf
Cherry to come out the U of S was called Carmine
Jewel. In 2006 the "Romance Serres" was released
complete with Romeo, Juliet, Crimson Passion and, of
course, Cupid.
Unlike sweet cherries that you usually find in the store,
the sour cherry is primarily used for baking or cooking.
But don't be fooled, they taste pretty good right off the
bush too and there are always the specialty products
such as wines, sauces, and even chocolate-covered
cherries. What makes these cherries so special is the
winter and drought hardiness that is bred into them.
The bush only grows 6-8 feet tall , so it is easy to
harvest , and the fruit has extremely high Brix levels.
Another advantage the Saskatchewan cherries have
over sour cherries grown e1sewhere is that they can
easily be grown organically because the winters are so
harsh, insects and disease cannot survive.
dwarf sour cherries
Another fruit that is hot on the Saskatchewan radar is Lon;cera caerulea known as haskap. blue
honeysuckle or honeyberry. Haskap is undergoing
extensive breeding at the University of Saskatchewan
Plant Sciences Department. The University possesses
over 85 clones from Russia, Japan, the Kuril Islands,
and wild plants from across Canada. These clones are
cross bred to make new varieties that are being tested
for their ability to stand up to mechanical harvest and
sorting as well as taste. The results of this breeding
are new and improved cultivars referred to as Haskap.
Haskap is be the first fruit of the season, ripening in
early June. Plants begin producing within the first
couple years of planting and should reach peak
production at 4-5 years. This is unique for a fruit and
very appealing to someone wanting to get into the fruit-
growing market as quickly as possible. The flavour
of the fruit has been described as a mix between a
blueberry and a raspberry. Like the cherry, there Haskap
have been few to no diseases found that affect the plant, possibly because it does
Page 2
produce fruit so early, leaving it open to organic production. Products made from these berries
include jams, juice, pies, wine and ice cream.
Haskap bush
Many keen producers have already found ways to incorporate these fruiting snrubs into their
farming systems. A quote from the Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association notes that "there
are over 70,000 sour cherry trees planted in the Prairie Provinces, most of them in
Saskatchewan, within a year there could be two million pounds of cherries being produced."
Producers have worked together to form both the Haskap Canada Association and the
Canadian Cherry Growers Incorporated who promote the production and marketing of their
Cherry harvester
These fruit trees have the potential to find their way out of the orchard setting and into more
traditional agroforestry systems such as riparian buffers and alley cropping.
Source: Shannon Poppy, The Temperate Agroforester, Vol 17 No 2 (June 2009)
Page 3
Bamboo computer keyboards manufactured in China
Jiangqiao Bamboo and Wood hails from China's Jiangxi province, where bamboo resources are
plentiful. Though the company began as a flooring company, they are now diversifying their
production to include the latest in green design: bamboo keyboards.
In rec.ent years, bamboo - a rapidly regenerating material - has gained popularity as a sturdy,
sustarnable alternative to wood flooring. Currently, China produces 200,000 cubic metres
annually of bamboo plywood.
Jiangqiao began manufacturing the green keyboards last October. The company says the
product is as strong as its plastic equivalent. They faced the same difficulties typical for
adapting bamboo for industrial use, including keeping the bamboo keyboard frame from
cracking, preventing the bamboo bottom plate from distorting and firmly fastening the buttons
with the main board. However, the company has successfully developed (and patented) its
formula, and also developed a bamboo mouse and USB expected to go on the market this
Though Jiangqiao is not the first company to use natural resources in computer accessories, it
may be the most eco-friendly. Much of the bamboo used in the keyboards is leftover scrap from
bamboo floorboard manufacturing.
Source; Sustainablog.com, USA, 7 May 2009
Ostrich fern: Fiddleheads big business
Being a fiddle head farmer was the "last thing in the world" Nick Secord ever wanted to do. All
he really wanted was to gcf fishing. Walking through his 40-acre fiddlehead farm at the west
end of Barrick Road, Secord recalled his start growing the vegetable that is become
increasingly popular amongst health-conscious people all over the world.
About 30 years ago, he said a friend who ran a Dominion grocery store in New Brunswick asked
him to collect fiddle heads to sell at the store. In exchange, his friend said he'd take Secord
A year later, Secord said he got a call from another grocery-store chain - Atlantic Wholesalers.
"Are you the guy who got the fiddle heads for the Dominion stores?" Secord was asked. ~ Y e a h ,
but I don't do that. I just did it to go fishing," Secord replied. "That was the humble beginning."
The experience showed Secord the business potential fiddle heads held, and he got to work.
But success wasn't easy. He recalled his first experience selling the product. A grocery store
placed an order for 50 cases of the plants - to be sold on consignment. He'd only get paid for
the cases that were actually sold. Anything that wasn't sold would be sent back. "Anyway we
got 49 cases back," he said. Undaunted, Secord pressed on. And slowly, his business grew.
Over the years, NorCliff Farms has become the largest grower, packer and distributor of
Fiddlehead Greens in the world. His company owns or leases fields in Ontario, Quebec, New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine. In total, NorCliff Farms has about 1,000 acres of land
dedicated to the production of fiddleheads. His company employs more than 400 people.
Page 4
It's also a substantial investment. "To plant fiddleheads like this it costs slightly more than
$12,000 an acre, " he said.
But a fiddle head farm is very different type of agriculture compared to what most people would
think of. Instead of the wide-open cultivated fields that comprise most farms, a fiddlehead farm
is essentially a swampy+wooded area.
Fiddleheads are the sprouts of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris), a plant that grows in
damp wooded areas. They're harvested for a few short weeks in the early spring, when they' re
still tightly curled in a spiral, before any leaves start to appear.
And the fields that make up NorCliff farms are actually wooded areas, cleared of the low+lying
underbrush to allow the ostrich ferns to get established.
There's little big equipment required, and no pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. The
ferns, he said, contain their own natural herbicide making manmade additions unnecessary. A
number of smaller ponds were added amongst the ferns to ensure they have plenty of water.
He said pumps are used to ensure that the land floods every spring, just in case it's dry year.
The popularity of the product continues to grow, as a health conscious people look for delicious
alternative greens to add to their plates. Fiddleheads have an abundance of protein, iron,
magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They are also high in vitamins A, C, B, along
with niacin, copper and manganese. They are also extremely low in sodium and cholesterol.
Secord said the business is also reaching out to young culinary arts students, in the hope of
finding new ways to enjoy the vegetable.
Source: The Tribune, Canada, 27 May 2009
Forest gardens and carbon sequestration
Homegardens is the name used for the popular agroforestry systems in the tropics that we in
temperate climates call forest gardens. Such systems, amongst other things, offer the
potential of sequestering carbon and at the same time conserving high biodiversity (especially
01 plants. )
This article reports on a study of homegardens and carbon sequestration in Kerala, India.
Homegardens of Kerala
Kerala has a humid tropical climate with two monsoon seasons. Homegardens constitute the
most important agroforestry system there, with some 4.3 million homegardens covering 1.4
million ha of land.
Homegardens are systems that consist of intimate multistory combinations of various trees and
crops, sometimes in association with domestic animals, usually around the homestead. They
are distributed throughout the tropics and are regarded as 'the epitome of sustainability'. They
are considered to have high carbon sequestering potential due to their forest-like structure and
composition, and also due to specific management practices that tend to enhance nutrient
cycling and increase soil organic matter. .
In KeraJa, homegardens are diverse in terms of species composition, size and age. Indeed,
evelY homegarden is unique in terms of plant diversity, age and management practices
The soil organic matter content varied with overall plant species density (ie number of species
per 100m
): homegardens with high species density had the highest organic matter levels in the
soil The organic matter content also varied with tree density: homegardens with high tree
density had the highest levels of soil organic matter. As might be expected, older homegardens
had higher organic matter content than younger ones.
Soil organic content was higher in the upper 50 cm of soil compared with the 50-100 cm depth
layer. This can be explained by the plant composition of homegardens: they are composed of
trees, shrubs and herbs, the latter two of which have most of their root activity in the upper
50cm of soil.
Compared with moist deciduous forest in the same region, the total soil carbon content of
homegardens was 60-70% of that in the forest soil. As a contrast, the soil carbon content in
nearby rice paddy fields was 31 % that of the forest soil.
Small homegardens (under 1 acre I 0.4 ha) had higher plant density, a higher number of plant
species, higher tree density, and more tree srecies than larger homegardens. Smaller
had on average 7.5 trees per 100m while larger homegardens had 5.8 trees per
100m. Smaller homegardens also had higher soil organic matter contents.
Homegarden age varied from 35 to 100 years.
Measures of species richness confirm prElvious results which rank homegardens as the highest
in biodiversity of all human-Omade agroecosystems, next only to natural forest.
Overall the study showed that the carbon stock in soil increased with the increase in number of
plant species in the tropical homegarden system. It is logical to infer that increases in plant
species increased the carbon sequestering potential of homegardens. Where the system is
widespread, such as in Kerala (where homegardens cover 36% of the total area), homegardens
can be Significant carbon sequestrators.
Saha, S et al: Soil carbon stock in relation to plant diversity of homegardens in Kerala, India.
Agroforestry Systems (2009) 76:53-65.
Page 6
Native Plants: Restoring to an Idea
Toby Hemenway
Let me tell you about the invasive plant that scares me more than all the others. It's one that
has infested over 80 million acres in the US, usually in virtual monocultures. It is a heavy
feeder, depleting soil of nutrients. Everywhere it grows, the soil is badly eroded. The plant
offers almost no wildlife habitat , and since it is wind pollinated, does not provide nectar to
insects. It's a plant that is often overlooked on blacklists, yet it is responsible for the
destruction of perhaps more native habitat than any other species. Research shows that when
land is lost to this species, native plants rarely return; they can't compete with it. It should go at
the top of every native-plant lover's list of enemies. This plant's name: Zea mays, or corn.
Corn is non-native. It's from Central America. Next on my list is the soybean, with 70 million
acres of native habitat lost to this invasive exotic. Following those two scourges on this roll call
of devastating plants is the European invader called wheat.
Wait , you say: these plants are deliberately spread by people; that's different! But to an
ecologist, it is irrelevant that the dispersion vector of these plants is a primate. After all , we
don't excuse holly or Autumn olive, even though without bird dispersal , they could not spread.
Why are corn, soy, and wheat not on any blacklists? Because we think of them differently than
plants spread by non-humans. This suggests that an invasive species is an idea, a product of
our thinking, not an objective phenomenon. When we restore land, we restore to an idea, not to
objective criteria. '
Let me give another example of how our ideas dictate which species we'll tolerate and which we
won't. The wooded hillside on rural Oregon where lance lived was thick with 40- to 120-year-
old Douglas fir and hemlock. But as I walked these forests, I noticed that scattered every few
acres were occasional ancient oak trees, four to six feet in diameter, much older than the
conifers and now being overtopped by them. I realized that in these ancient oaks I was seeing
the remnants of the oak savanna that had been maintained for millennia by fire set by the
original inhabitants, the Calapuya people. The fir forest moved in when the whites arrived and
drove off the Calapuya, and suppressed fire. So what I was seeing was a conifer forest created
by human-induced fire-suppression, and it had replaced the oak savanna that had been
preserved by fire setting. Which was the native landscape? Both were made by humans. If we
say, let's restore to what existed before humans altered it , we'd need to go back to birches and
willows, since humans arrived as the glaciers retreated. But clearly that 's not appropriate.
Prairies - natural or human made?
In a similar vein, one of the rarest and most valued ecosystems in the Northwest are the native
prairies, such as those found in the Willamette and other valleys. Yet these prairies are also
the product of human manipulation. Prairies occurred naturally in the Willamette over 5000
years ago, but began to disappear after that. Ecologist Mark Wilson has written ~ A s climate
turned cooler and moister 4,000 years ago, oak savanna and prairie ecosystems were
maintained only by frequent fires set by native people to stimulate food plants and help in
hunting. " The local people used fire technology to maintain an environment that supported them
even when the climate no longer supported that ecosystem.
So I applaud and encourage efforts to preserve native prairie in the region-they are valuable
as endangered species habitat, examples of cultural heritage, and a way of preserving
pl anetary biological wisdom. But we should restore these prairies with the strict recognition that
we are creating-not recreating or restoring--a state that can not be supported by current
climate and other conditions. Prairies are artificial in the Willamette Valley. The preservation of
prairies there isn't a matter of Simply repairing and replanting a degraded landscape and then
watching the prairie thrive, but constructing a species community and an environment for it that
must remain on intensive life support, with constant intervention, for it to survive at all, as long
as the climate remains unsuitable to it. The Willamette prairie remnants can't be considered
native; the only criteria they meet is that they were here in small patches when botanists first
catalogued them. But so were dandelions. Botanists knew dandelions weren't native, but the
didn't know that the prairies were human created, so the prairies were catalogued as native.
Prairies in the Northwest haven't been indigenous for 4000 years .

We love the local prairies and I firmly believe in the efforts to preserve them. But I want us to
be clear that we are restoring to an idea. We are restoring because we want these things here,
and not because there is a master blueprint that says they are the right ecosystem for the place.
Ecosystems exist because current conditions favor those particular assemblages. Change the
conditions, and the ecosystems will, absolutely, change. Both the climate and humans have
changed the conditions plenty. Environmental change is the driving force behind shifting
species makeup. With plants and most animal species, no evil species showed up and through
sheer cussedness, killed off the locals. Instead, the conditions changed.
The very concept of wild land, for most Americans, is founded on a misunderstanding: a very
brief ecological moment during which a once-managed ecosystem was at the height of its
degradation due to loss of its keystone species. The dark and tangled primeval forests, written
about by Thoreau and Emerson, are simply the declining remnants of open and spacious
Eastern food forests , turned to thicket after a century or two of neglect. But this idea of
wilderness is deep in our mythology, national imagery, and consciousness.
Disturbance causing change
Let's look at some of the causes of species change. First: terminology. The word "invasive
loaded. We hate invaders. The term also places focus solely on the incoming species, yet the
ability of a species to survive is due to interactions with the biological and physical environment.
So I prefer a more and I think, ecological more correct and descriptive term, such as
opportunistic. Kudzu is not much of a problem in its native habitat , but it will take advantage of
What creates those opportunities for species shifts? Intact ecosystems are notoriously hard to
invade. We know this because, for example, seed dispersal rates are truly astounding. Birds
are a major dispersal agent. They can carry seeds from multiple plant species in their gut,
stuck to their feathers, and in mud on their feet. So picture billions and billions of birds, for 60
million years or so, traveling tens to thousands of miles, seeds dropping off of them every wing-
beat of the way. Add to that bats, which are actually more effective at seed dispersal , per bat,
than birds. Plus land-animal dispersals, not as far-ranging as birds but bringing much larger
seed loads via droppings and fur. Include water-rafted trees and other plants, wind-dispersed
species, and more.
This gives a picture of the whole planet crisscrossed with billions of birds and animals for
millions of years, seeds and spores going everywhere, eggs being carried to new environments,
dispersal, dispersal, dispersal! So why isn't the whole planet a weedy thicket? Because the
mere arrival of a new species, even in large numbers, is not what causes a successful
colonization. Ecosystems are very hard to invade, and several conditions must be present for
that to happen.
A major reason for ecosystems being tough to invade is that nearly all the resources in
undisturbed ecosystems are being exploited. Nearly every niche is filled, every nutrient flow is
being consumed, almost every opportunity is taken. Two major changes make ecosystems
invasible: disturbance, and the appearance of new resources. Take disturbance. Perennially
disturbed places, like riparian zones, are sensitive to opportunistic species. So is farmland, or
Page 8
developed areas, or anywhere than humans or nature cause disturbance. It drives me nuts
when I read that wspecies X" has destroyed 50,000 acres of habitat. When you do a little
digging you find that, no, that area was farmed, or new roads cut, or logged, or ' polluted, or
otherwise disturbed, and then the new species moved in.
For example, the poster child of invasion biologists is the brown tree snake, blamed for invading
Guam and killing off several species of birds. The untold story is that for decades the US Navy
used over half of the island as a bombing range, leaving most of it unfit for life. Much of what
remained was crowded by displaced people, and developed by the military, and thus turned into
poor and disturbed habitat. The tree snake just cleaned up the struggling remnants that were
already in serious decline.
Stop the disturbance, and you'll almost always eliminate or reduce the effect of the new
species. Land I lived on was clear-cut in the early 1970s and not replanted with fir until the
1980s, and was covered with patches of Himalayan blackberry and Scot's broom when I arrived
in the early 1990s. By the late 1990s, both species were gone from most places and nearly
dead everywhere else, because the trees had grown back and shaded them out. The problem
is disturbance, not that a species pushes out others because it's tough or mean.
This suggests that we need to take care of naturally disturbed areas like riverbanks, since most
of the species we've labeled as problematical thrive on disturbance. Even in these riparian
zones, thou9.,h, conditions are altered from what they once were because of the loss of the
beaver and from damming. Thus nature is just trying to deal with our changes as best as she
can, and she' ll use whatever re:sources she can find. A return to a natural distyrbance regime
will allow the once-present vegetation to return, if that is our choice for that land.
New resources causing change
The second cause of successful invasion is the appearance of new resources. Often the new
resources that that allow an otherwise intact ecosystem to be colonized are pollution and
fertilizer runoff. For example, a number of aquatic opportunists, such as purple loosestrife,
thrive in more polluted and higher-nutrient environments than the plants they replace. Many
species that evolved in clean water are harmed by pollutants. Loosestrife, though, has high
rates of nutrient uptake, and this trait allows it to out-compete many other species in polluted
water. But in permaculture, we say that that every problem carries within it the seeds of its own
solution. And so loosestrife can be used in const ructed wetlands and in natural environments to
clean nutrient-rich water. They are an indicator of a problem, a response to it, and nature's way
of solving a problem, not the problem itself. If you really hate loosestrife and want it to go
away, clean up the water. Without doing that, you'll be flailing away at the problem forever.
Spraying and yanking is not an effective strategy to remove unwanted species. Nature is far
more patient and persistent, and has a bigger budget, than we do. To remove an unwanted
species, change the conditions that made it more favored than the desired vegetation.
Unwanted species generally arrive because humans have changed the environment to make
conditions more favorable for the new species. And when we "restore" landscapes, or more
often, i ntroduce a set of species that we have decided are the ones we want to see there, we
are altering the landscape to suit our idea of what should be there, not to match some divine
plan. These two understandings burden us with a huge responsibility to make intell igent
choices, but more importantly, to recognize that we are often arbitrarily making a choice based
on our own preferences, not because there is only one right choice for a landscape, When we
put resources into landscape management, however, we direct the shape of that landscape
toward only one choice. That's the best we can do. Thus I'd like to see us be less dogmatic in
the way we cling to those choices.
Unfortunately, dogma is present on all sides. Friends of mine approached the Portland city
government with a plan to create some edible plant corridors along Springwater Trail , a 40-mile
bicycle and pedestrian loop around the city. Their idea was for bikers and pedestrians to be
able to snack on berries and fruit. The city official in charge said, ~ N o p e , we have a natives-
only policy on the traiL" The trail is a paved pathway that .goes through industrial areas and
along backyards, road right-at-ways, and scrubby vacant lots. It probably goes through a dozen
or more different environments, based on soil , water, sunlight, and all the other factors that
determine what plant communities will grow there. But the policy is natives only. Wouldn't it
make' sense for the primary species that will be using that trail to have a habitat that suits that
species' needs for food and comfort , particularly since it 's in a busy urban area? But instead the
landscaping is to be driven by an idea, by dogma. I totally support the idea of having natives-
only areas on the trail. But let 's allow the new landscaping to serve those that it 's being built
for, too.
I began this with corn and soybeans. One of my favorite snarky questions for natives-only
people is: "What did you eat for breakfast?" I ask that because it is our choi ces that determine
how much of our landscape is going to be consumed by non-native species. I didn't eat camas
cakes with pink-flowering currant syrup this morning, and I'll bet you didn't eat any local plants
either. Of course, I'd rather see someone growing indigenous species in their yard rather than
having a sterile, resource gobbling lawn. But my Portland yard is not , in my or several other
lifetimes, going to be part of a natural ecosystem. I might be able to cultivate some endangered
native species in an attempt to pull a rare plant back from extinction. That 's one good reason I
can see for growing indigenous plants in my yard. But the most frequent native plants I see
grown in yards are salal , Oregon grape, and others that are in no danger of extinction and don't,
to our knowledge, support specialist species dependent only upon them. And since much of my
yard is watered, it is inappropriate for me to grow natives that are adapted to our dry summers.
It' s always stuck me as bizarre to see Northwest natives being irrigated.
But even more than indigenous plants, I'd rather see someone providing for some of their own
needs from their yard. When we eat a bowl of cornflakes for breakfast , or oatmeal , or store-
bought eggs, we are commissioning with our dollars the conversion of wild land into
monoculture farms. I'll bet that a large percentage people reading this buy local food, shop
organic, and so forth. But the farms growing that food are almost all moncultures, and out of
the urban matri x. In other words, it is farmland that , if consumption decreased, has a far better
chance of being restored to a functioning ecosystem than a home lot. If I grow some of my own
food, that means that somewhere out in the country, a farmer won't have to plOW so close to the
riverbank, or could let some of that back field go wild. That land has a far better chance of
functioning as an ecosystem than my yard will. Oh, I have visions of how city and suburban
landscapes could be functional ecosystems, but that' s another subject. My point is, we need to
be putting money and energy into growing indigenous species where they will do the most good,
where they can truly contribute to ecosystems and their functions. Much of our efforts in
eliminating exotics is a complete waste of resources at best , and at worst is a terrible use of
poisons to destroy a hybrid habitat whose function we don't yet grasp. Let' s be honest at what
we are restoring to: an idea of what belongs in a place. If we want to get rid of an invasive
exotic, let's get rid of some monocultured corn, and let a bit of farmland return to being a real
Copyright 2007 by Toby Hemenway
Reprinted from http: //patternliteracy.com with permission.
Greek agroforestry systems
Agroforestry systems are a traditional land use practice in Greece, being widely distributed all
over the country and covering some 23% of the total land area.
Types of system include silvoarable (trees and crops grown on arable land), silvopasture (trees
and pasture/animals grown on forest and arable land) and agrosilvopastoral (trees, crops and
animals grown on arable land.)
Trees may be forest species or cultivated fruit trees, sometimes 'planted, sometimes from
natural regeneration, evergreen or deciduous. Crops are annual or perennial. Animals may be
sheep, goats, cattle, pigs or chickens.
All types of system deliver a great variety of goods and services while the role of trees is crucial
in sustaining production and improving the environment.
Greek agroforestry dates back to Neolithic times when forests were opened up by cutting or
burning to enable grazing for domesticated livestock, resulting in silvopastoral systems.
The deliberate incorporation of trees into farming systems started much later when olive and
other fruit trees such as sweet chestnut and walnut were introduced. The intercropping of olive
trees and cereals or legumes was widespread in Greece during the first millennium Be because
it was more productive then monocultures. This practice has continued ever since with olive
and other forest species.
Types of agroforestry systems
Greek agroforestry systems can be separated into two groups. Those found on private
agricultural land, and those found on forest land owned by government or other organisations.
In the first group, agroforestry systems usually consist of two components , trees and crops.
Trees may be found or planted isolated, in groups or lines (also making windbreaks) within the
arable fields or in their borders, while crops are usually cereals. Occasionally forage crops are
dir4exctly grazed by animals, although many of these systems are grazed after the harvest of
the cereal crop.
The second group on forest land involve trees and animals grazing on the understorey which is
a natural pasture with herbaceous or shrubby species. These systems include open forests as
well as denser ones that can be grazed without significantly impairing wood production or other
forest values. These silvopastoral systems are important grazing lands - most of Greece's 5.4
million goats graze in them, as well as some 9 million sheep and 600,000 cattle.
The most common agroforestry systems are listed below based on the dominant tree of the
overstory (note, though, that very often the dominant tree is grown together with other tree
species in mixed agroforestry systems). The main products/uses refer to both overstory and
understory crops.
Page 11
Natural coniferous trees
Dominant Latin name Main understory Main products/uses
tree species
Greek fir Abies ce hafonica Herbaceous Timber , fora e
Bulgarian fir Abies barisii-regis Herbaceous Timber, fora e
italian Cupressus sempervirens Evergreen shrubs Forage, timber
Calabrian Pinus brutia Evergreen shrubs Resin, fuelwQod, timber,
pine forage, honey
Aleppo pine Pinus halepenis Evergreen shrubs Resin, fuelwood, timber,
forage, honey
Heildri ch Pinus leucodermis Herbaceous Timber, barrel wood,
pine fOraQ8
Austrian pine Pinus nigra Herbaceous Timber, electricity poles,
Stone pine Pinus pinea Herbaceous, Forage, timber, pine nuts
evergreen shrubs
Scots pine Pinus sylvestris Herbaceous Timber, electricity poles,
Cultivated coniferous trees
Dominant Latin name Main understory Main products/uses
tree species
Itali an Cupressus sempervirens Arable crops, Windbreaks, agricultural
cypress herbaceous products, timber
Natural broad leaved evergreen trees
Dominant latin name Main understory Main products/ uses
tree species
Kermes oak Ouercus coccifera Evergreen shrubs, Forage, acorns, fuel wood
Holm oak Ouercus ilex Evergreen shrubs Charcoal, fuelwood, forage
Cultivated broad leaved evergreen trees
Dominant latin name Main understory Main products/ uses
tree species
Carob Ceratonia si/iqua Herbaceous, Fruits, forage, cereals,
arable crops qrapes, fuelwood
Olive Olea europaea Arable crops, Olives, forage, fodder,
herbaceous cereals, grapes, fuelwood,
Page 12
Natural broadleaved deciduous trees
Dominant Latin name Main understory Main products/uses
tree species
Field maple Acer campestre Herbaceous, Fuelwood, forage
deciduous shrubs
Sweet Castanea sativa Herbaceous, Poles, fuelwQod, nuts,
chestnut arable crops fodder, honey
European Celtis australis Herbaceous, FuelwQod, forage, timber,
nettle tree arable crops fruits
Beech Fagus sy/vatica Herbaceous, Timber, forage, potatoes
Almond Pyrus amygda/iformis Herbaceous, Forage, fuelwood. cereals,
leaved pear deciduous shrubs, fruits
arable crops
Turkey oak Quercus cerris Herbaceous, FuelwQod, fodder I cereals,
deciduous shrubs, forage, acorns
arable croos
Italian oak Quercus {rainetto Herbaceous, Timber, fuelwQod, fodder,
deciduous shrubs, cereals, forage, acorns
arable crops
Valonia oak Quercus ithaburensis Phrygana, Forage, fuelwood, acorns,
ssp. Macrofepis herbaceous, arabl e cereals
Sessile oak Quercus petraea Herbaceous, Timber, fuelwood, fodder,
deciduous shrubs, cereals, forage, acorns
arable crops
Downy oak Quercus pubescens Herbaceous, Timber, fuelwood, fodder,
deciduous shrubs, cereals, forage, acorns
arable crops
Macedonian Quercus trojana Herbaceous, Fuelwood, cereals, forage,
oak deciduous shrubs, timber, fodder, acorns
arable crops
Cultivated broadleaved deciduous trees
Dominant Latin name Main understory Mai n products/uses
tree species
Sweet Castanea sativa Herbaceous Timber, nuts, forage
Quince Cydonia oblonga Arable crops Fruits, cereals , vegetables,
grapes, forage, fuelwood
Fig Ficus carica Arable crops, Frui ts, grapes, cereals,
phrygana forage
Walnut Juglans regia Arable crops, Timber, nuts, cereals,
herbaceous grapes, forage
Apple Malus communis Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,
grapes, forage, fuelwood
White Morus alba Arable crops, Foliage for silkworms,
mulberry herbaceous fodder, fuelwood, cereals,
forage, fruits
Page 13
Poplar Populus spp. Herbaceous, Timber, vegetables, forage
arable crops
Theves Populus thevestina Arable crops Timber, vegetables
Almond Prunus amygdalus Arable crops, Almonds, grapes, cereals,
herbaceous fuelwood, forage
Aprico,t Prunus armeniaca Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,

grapes, foraoe, fuelwood
Sweet cherry Prunus avium Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,
crapes forace, fuelwood
Plum Prunus domestica Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,
orapes, foraoe, fuel wood
Peach Prunus persica Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,
orapes, foraoe, fuelwood
Pear Pyrus communis Arable crops Fruits, cereals, vegetables,
orapes, foraoe, fuelwood
Black locust Robinia pseudoacacia Arable crops, Timber, honey, forage,
herbaceous fodder
An important element of traditional agroforestry systems is tree management, with two
techniques used: shredding and pollarding. Both are used to provide fodder for animals and
sometimes fuelwood.
Shredding consists of cutting the lower branches of the tree for fodder, while pollarding involves
cutting off the branches of a tree at a height of 1.5 to 2m ( or even up to 3m) so that new shoots
are out of reach of animals. Pollarded trees are first cut when 10-15 years old or when stem
diameter exceeds 15cm (6") .
Leaf and twig fodder cut from trees played a major role in animal husbandry. A Greek village
owning 2,000 sheep and goats would have to shred between 3,000 and 10,000 mature oaks.
The most important agroforestry systems
Aleppo pine forests
Aleppo pine is a Mediterranean species, a light demanding tree and as a result Aleppo pine
forests have open crowns, allowing a rich understory to develop mainly of evergreen shrubs.
Aleppo pine is also well adapted to wildfires and its forests are the most commonly burned
forest areas in Greece.
Trees are used for timber and fuelwood production but mainly for resin and honey. Resin is
used for glue as a flavouring in retsina, a popular Greek white wine. Honey is produced by
bees fed on honeydew secretions from an endemic insect.
Understory vegetation is used for fuelwood production but mainly for grazing - the vegetation is
not of high feed value but is often indispensable especially for goats.
Calabrian pine forests
Another Mediterranean conifer, found In Eastern Greece, The Aegean Islands and in Crete. It
is also a light-demanding species and its natural stands are open; as a result forests support a
lush understory of herbaceous and shrubby plants. Brutia pine silvopastures can extend the
grazing period into summer when herbaceous species without tree cover go dormant.
Page 14
Traditional Tree management types:
( 1) Non managed tree
(2) Managed walnut tree for high quality timber
(3) Pruned Aleppo pine for ship building timber
(4) Pallarded tree for fodder
(5) Pallarded oak for fodder
(6) Pallarded oak for fodder
(7) Pollarded mulberry for fodder
(8) PoJfarded tree for storage of fodder
(9) Shredded oak tree for fodder
(l 0) Grafted tree for fruit production
(1 1) Lopped olive tree for olives and fodder production
Page 15
The timber is of better quality than Aleppo but resin production is less. Goats are wi dely
grazed, controlli ng the understory vegetation and reducing the fire risk.
Cypress systems
Italian cypress is di stributed in the southern Aegean Islands and Crete, but has been planted
throughout Greece.
Bothtnatural and planted forests are used for timber production and grazing, and cypress is also
planted in field lines to form windbreaks.
Kermes oak forests
Kermes oak is an evergreen species, often found as a shrub on its own of with other trees sue
to repeated cutting, burning and browsing. These shrublands are mainly used for grazing
Valoni a oak systems
This is a deciduous oak which is found growing either in pure stands or with other oaks, with an
understory consisting of both woody and herbaceous species. Valonia oak trees are usually
cultivated at 20 to 50 trees per hectare so that forests are open and support a rich understory.
Page 16
Valonia oak forests are the Greek equivalent to the dehesas and montados of Spain and
Portugal. Sheep are used to graze the understorey forage and also the fallen acorns. In
several places Valonia oak is grown within arable fields or in borders of terraces cultivated with
cereals. ~ .
Oak trees are also used for fuelwood of which there is a big demand. In the past, the acorn
cups were extensively used for extraction of tannins used in the leather industry.
Macedonian oak forests
Another deciduous oak found in forests wither pure of mixed with other oaks. Most natural
stands are open, supporting considerable understorey vegetation, woody or herbaceous.
Woody understorey may consist of shrubby oaks (downy, Turkey, Italian) as well as other trees
kept shrubby like hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis) and manna ash (Fraxinus omus).
Most Macedonian oak forests are undergrazed by sheep and goats who eat both vegetation and
acorns. Trees are also cut for fuelwood. Macedonian oak is also found within or in the
boundaries of arable fields, grown with arable crops especially cereals.
Other deciduous oak systems
These include downy, Italian and Turkey oaks, grown as high or coppice forests and mainly
used for timber or firewood production. Most are grazed by livestock but much less intensively
as they are dense with limited understory vegetation. Trees are sometimes found within or on
the boundaries of arable fields cultivated with cereals, and used for fuelwood, fodder (by
shredding or pollarding), providing shade for stock or as property markers. The arable fields
are grazed after harvest. In some areas barley and wheat are cultivated not for grain
production but as temporary pastures grazed in winter or early spring.
Olive tree systems
Olive trees are grown in pure orchards but more commonly in mixtures with other fruit or forest
trees on flat or terraced land. Most often the understory is planted with vineyards, cereals or
forages. Olive trees themsel ves are mainly grown for the fruit but the pruned branches are also
used as a fuel and for feeding animals either in situ on in the barn.
Page 17
Deciduous oak - cereal silvoarable (GAN)
Poplar systems
Poplars contribute significantly to the timber production of Greece. Poplars are grown or
planted in arable lands with good soils, irrigated or with good water conditions (eg. rivers or
canals). Beneath is usually an understory used for livestock grazing, or an arable area used for
vegetables or other summer crops. The trees also act as windbreaks.
Walnut tree systems
Walnut is common and is planted in arable lands either in pure orchards or more commonly
within arable fields or on their boundaries, alone or in mixtures. Walnut is usually combined
with several crops, especially vineyards and cereals but also vegetables, beans and lucerne
(the latter for grazing). The walnut trees yield nuts, high quality timber and fuelwood.
Almond tree systems
Almond is another commonly cultivated fruit tree, planted on its own or in mixtures with olives,
figs, walnuts and pistachios, but most commonly with vineyards or herbaceous crops (cereals,
tobacco, forages, legumes)
Page 18
Page 19
Current status of agroforestry
Traditional agroforestry systems have been considerably degraded in the last 60 years, which
can be attributed to the decline in agriculture in the Greek countryside. A rural exodus stripped
the countryside of a large part of its population. Since Greek agroforestry systems are labour-
intensive, their function was significantly affected. Many forest lands have been abandoned. In
arable areas, monocultures of trees or arable crops have reduced traditional activities.
In Ilia last few years some new systems have been trialled. These include silvopastoral
systems based on fodder trees such as black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and white
mulberry, and on timber trees such as sycamore and Scots pine. New silvoarable systems
combine timber trees (eg. walnut, wild cherry) and various crops (eg. wheat , maize). Lack of
financial incentives for farmers has delayed their widespread adoption but since agroforestry
has been recently incorporated in the EU agricultural policy, farmers in Greece will soon be
financially assisted to set up agroforestry systems.
Papanastasis, V P et al: Traditional Agroforestry Systems and their evolution in Greece. In
Rigueiro Rodriguez et al: Agroforestry in Europe: Current Status and Future Prospects.
Springer, 2009.
http://www.agroforestry.gr/index. php : the Greek agroforestry network (GAN).
Ecosystem services and environmental
benefits of agroforestry
Recent research over the last decade has confirmed that agroforestry systems provide
ecosystem benefits, environmental benefits, as well as economic commodities as part of a
mutifunctional working landscape.
The integration of trees, agricultural crops and/or animals into an agroforestry system has the
potential to enhance soil fertility, reduce erosion, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity,
increase aesthetics and sequester carbon. These services and benefits occur over a range of
spatial and temporal scales:
Ecosystem service Spatial scale
Farmllocal Landscape/reQlonal Global
Net rimary production
* " ".
Pest control
Pollination / seed dispersal
Soil enrichment
Soil stabilisation I erosion
Clean water

Ecosystem service Spatial scale
Farm/local Landsca e/reglonal Global
Flood mitigation
......... . ........
Clean air
, .........
...... "."
Carbon se uestration
.""",, ....
......... . ........
......... ......... . ..... " ..
Aesthetics / Cultural
......... . ........ ...... " ..
Carbon sequestration
This involves the removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere, here into vegetation or
soils, through physical or biological processed. The incorporation of trees or shrubs in
agroforestry systems can increase the amount of carbon sequestered compared with a
monoculture field of crop plants or pasture.
In addition to the amount of carbon stored in biomass, agroforestry systems can
also store carbon below ground. The largest amount and most permanent form of carbon may
be sequestered by increasing the rotation age of trees and/or shrubs and by manufacturing
durable products from them after harvesting.
The amount of carbon sequestered varies depending on many factors - species composition,
age, location, environmental factors and management practices. Agroforests on arid,
or degraded site have a lower carbon sequestration potential than those on fertile humid sites;
and temperate agroforestry systems have a slightly lower rate compared with ,tropical systems.
The current area of agroforestry in the world is about 1,023 million ha, and this area has the
potential to sequester about 1.9 Pg carbon over 50 years. Considering the potential to vastly
extend agroforestry practices, there is enormous potential to sequester much more than this.
Perennial plant systems such as those in agroforestry also lead to large communities of soil-
borne mycorrhizal fungi. These not only improve the health of the system itself , but play an
important role in the sequestration of carbon.
Soil enrichment
The role of agroforestry in enhancing and maintaining soil productivity and
sustainability is well known. The incorporation of trees and crops to fix nitrogen is fairly
common in agroforestry systems. Non N-fixing trees can also enhance soil physical. chemical
and biological properties by adding significant organic matter and by releasing and recycling
Biodiversity conservation
Agroforestry plays five major roles in conserving biodiversity:
(1) It provides habitat for species that can tolerate a certain level of disturbance
(2) It helps preserve germplasm of sensitive species
(3) It helps reduce the rates of conversion of natural habitat by providing a more
productive, sustainable alternative to traditional agricultural systems that may involve
clearing natural habitats
(4) It provides connectivity by creating corridors between habitat remnants which can
support the integrity of those remnants and the conservation of sensitive species
(5) It helps conserve biological diversity by providing other ecosystem services such as
erosion control and water recharge, preventing the degradation and loss of habitat.
Page 21
An agroforestry system with conservation goals needs to be designed with certain
Type of activity
Design of agroforestry
Management of system
Spatial configuration
Species composition
Tree/shrub density
Type of system
Duration of system
Management regime
Desirable characteristics
Diverse species, mixture of early, mid,
late successional species, preferably
Higher tree/shrub density
Any diverse system structurally and
Long rotation for stability
Minimal management
Maximise diverse resources
Soil management Minimal
Harvesting Minimal, or harvesting that emulates
natural disturbance
Fire management Follow natural fire regimes if possible
Management of snags & Maintain as habitat
woody debris
Location in landscape
Type of fand
Locate to
by linking
Locate adjacent to protected areas,
rivers and remnant native habitat to act
as buffer
Degraded sites where Revegetation will
improve biodiversity
Tropical homegardens are particularly well known for their high diversity of species - a recent
review found between 27 and 602 species in different homegardens. Where agriculture has
decimated forest cover, these systems can serve as refuges of species diversity.
Improved air and water quality
Agroforestry windbreaks and shelterbelts have numerous documented benefits, including
protecting buildings and roads from drifting snow, reducing wind chill and improving livestock
production, protecting crops, limiting wind erosion and particulate matter in the air, reducing
noise pollution and mitigating odours.
Page 22
Riparian buffer in Iowa
Agroforestry practices are also a proven strategy to provide clean water. In conventional
agricultural systems (including organic systems) over halt of the applied nitrogen and
phosphorus fertilisers are washed out of the soil via surface runoff or leaching, contaminating
water sources. Riparian buffers help to clean runoff by reducing the velocity of the water,
allowing sediment deposition, infiltration and nutrient retention . Buffers also reduce nutrient
movement into ground water by taking up excess nutrients. (It is arguable, though, that it would
be better to have sustainable agricultural systems in the first place rather then using
agroforestry buffers to clean up the mess.)
Trees with deep rooting systems in agroforestry systems can also improve ground water quality
by serving as a 'safety net' whereby excess nutrients that have leached below the rooting zone
of agronomic crops are taken up by the tree roots, to be then recycled back into the system
through root turnover and litterfall.
In an era of environmental consciousness and ecological sustainability, the role of agroforestry
as an environmentally benign and ecologically sustainable alternative to traditional farming that
also offers a number of ecosystem services has huge potential not just for landowners and
farmers but for society at large in landscapes the world over.
Jose, S: Agroforestry for ecosystem services and environmental benefits: an overview.
Agroforestry Systems (2009) 76: 1-tO.
Page 23
Black truffles and agroforestry
The European black truffle or Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) is an ectomycorrhizal*
fungus with fruiting bodies found underground which are high valued in international haute
cuisine, because of their refined and pervasive flavour and aroma (fresh earth and mushrooms).
black truffle production comes almost entirely from France, Spain and Italy, which
compri se most of the natural distribution area.
(*Mycorrhi zas are specialised structures which develop where certain fungi colonise the tissues
of fine roots. The fungi help in the mineral nut ri tion of the plant in return for carbohydrates and
other substances such as vi tamins. This mutually beneficial relationship is called symbiotic or a
symbiosis. In the symbiosis, the fungal threads (hyphae) permeate the soil more intimately
than plants roots and take up nutrients and water which they then transfer to the plant; their
main action is to improve mineral nutrient uptake, particularly of phosphorus but also of boron,
copper, nitrogen, potassium, selenium, sulphur and zinc. Ectomycorrhizas are one of the most
common types.)
The rise in truffle use in French and Italian cooking began in the 16
century and was driven by
kings, princes and other aristocrats. Increased culinary use led to advances in the management
of naturally occuring truffieres (nonplanted truffleproducing stands) and expanded truffle
production in France and Italy during the 19
century. The dreaded Phylloxera disease of
grapes also played a role, since truffle cultivation was an alternative to vineyards.
Reforestation laws contri buted to the expansion of truftl eproducing trees like the evergreen
holm oak (Quercus ilex) in calcareous mountains such as the Luberon and Mont Ventoux.
In the 20
Century, French truffle production declined spectacularly as a result of rural
depopulation. Resulting in the practical disappearance of firewood cutting, charcoal production,
lands dedicated to marginal agricultural activities, and forest grazing by flocks of sheep. As a
resul t , forest stand density increased greatly, suppressing truffle formation. In addition,
farmers' knowledge on truffle managemer.lt was lost.
In Italy the decline in production was smaller and due to deforestation during war years when
truffle trees were cut for firewood.
In contrast to France and Italy, Spain has only recently incorporated truffles into popular
gastronomy. It was not until the 1950's that the systematic collection from Spanish truffieres
began. Here too, however, there was a big reduction in truffle production in the 1970s, due to
rural depopulation, the collapse of many forest uses, and reforestation using conifers. A large
increase in wild boar population also contributed to the decline.
In the 1970's, mycorrhizal seedling production (ie of young trees inoculated with black truffle
mycorrhizas) was developed and plantations began to be planted out specifically for truffle
production. In France there are now about 10,000 ha of plantations of age 1030 and another
8,000 ha under 10 years old. The main tree species used in these plantations are downy oak
(Quercus pubescens) , holm oak, and hazel (Cory/us avellana). The majority of plantations and
production are located in the southeast (Vaucluse, Drome, Gard) and the southwest (Lot,
In Italy there are about 5,000 of plantations, mostly in the centre of the country (Marche,
Umbria, Abruzzo), most of which use black truffle but some have used other truffle species
(T.magnatum, T.aestivum, T.borchii, T.brumale). The black truffle plantations usE;! mainly downy
oak, also hazel , hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) and holm oak.
Black truffles (Source: Wikepedia)
In Spain, some 4,000 ha of plantations exist, including the largest single plantation of 600 ha in
Soria (Northeastern Spain). Holm oak, hazel , downy oak and Portuguese oak (Quercus
faginea) are the main trees used.
These plantations of inoculated seedlings have halted the decline in truffle production in France
and Spain, although overall production has hardly risen. In France, 90% of production is now
from plantations; in Spain 30% and in Italy 50%, the remainder coming from natural truffieres.
Life cycle
Because it is a symbiotic fungus, the black truffle depends mainly on living host trees as a
carbohydrate source. Nevertheless, T.melanosporum mycelium can exhibit some pathogenic
and saprophytic capabilities: it can infect the roots of some weeds and grasses and damage
them. This capability seems to be responsible for the formation of the brule, an area where
most of the fruiting bodies occur, characterised by scarce vegetation. Perhaps the fungi is
Page 25
trying to make it easier for animals to find the fruiting bodies.
There is still little knowledge of the environmental and biological requirements for fruiting. The
fruiting bodies grow without attachment to the host tree and mature between December and
March, producing their particular smell which attracts various mammals and insects which
disperse their spores.
Symbiont plants
Black truffle has a relatively wide range of host species. The most common are holm oak,
do'wny oak and hazel. Other species can sustain good truffle production (depending on the
climate and soil) including English oak (Quercus robur), kermes oak (Q.coccifera), Portuguese
oak, Hop-hornbeam, hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and Oriental hornbeam (C.orientalis).
Stand vegetation
Most of the best naturally occuring truffieres are found in areas of open woodland, with canopy
cover under 30%, scarce shrub cover and the average spacing between trees greater than 1.5
times their
top height. In terms of plant
succession, black truffle is found at the open young forest stage, later than the scrubby phase
but before dense forest forms.
Competitor mycorrhizal fungi
Soils contain a high diversity of mycorrhizal fungi, and where ectomycorrhizal plants have been
growing (ie many trees as in the table below) there will be a strong potential for infection of
newly planted trees by a fungi already resident in the soil. Tuber melanosporum competes
poorly with many soil-resident fungi and thus new plantations of inoculated trees are most
successful when planted on agricultural soils where trees have not been growing recently.
Ectomycorrhizal plant hosts:
Page 26
Common name
Hickories, Pecan
Douglas fir
Populus Poplars
Salix Willows
Ericaceae Arbutus Strawberry trees
Arctostaphylos Manzanitas
Myrtaceae Eucalyptus Eucalyptus
The most important competitor in many truffle orchards (especially in France) is T.brumafe,
which has similar ecological requirements to black truffle.
Most regions are located in transition zones between Mediterranean type
climate and temperate ones. They usually experience a dry summer period but not as marked
in a true Mediterranean climate. Average conditions include:
Mean annual temperature: 8.6 to 14.SDC
Mean temperature of warmest month: 16.5 to 23C
Mean temperature of coldest month: 1 to 8C
Mean annual rainfall: 450-900mm (although in France there are areas with up to
Rainfall in July and August is unpredictable in most of the area of natural distribution, and this is
the factor which has the greatest influence on truffle production. Very dry spells during this
period reduce production significantly.
Black truffle is typically found on calcareous (ie alkaline) soils, with pH 7.5-8.5, with an organic
matter content of 1-8%, which are well-aerated and well -drained with a good soil structure.
Most lruffieres are found on low south-facing slopes (5-30% of slope).
Truffle silviculture in truffieres
In many black truffle-producing forests and old truffle orchards in France, Italy and Spain, the
stand density is higher then optimum. Management in these cases consists of opening the
vegetation and eliminating competitor trees. Non black truffle trees are clear-cut , whereas as
trees from black truffle-producing species are pruned until a cover lower than 30% is achieved
around the brufes. Weeding, soi l tillage, liming etc. may also be appropriate.
In Spain and France, truffles belong to the landowner by right , however in Italy truffles are
considered u res nullius" or ownerless property if the soil is not culti vated; over-harvesting is
common, and because the spores of the truffle are completely encased in the fruiting bodies,
systemic and intensive harvesti ng prevents reinoculation of the exploited truffieres and
colonisation of new ones.
Black truffle cultivation
Truffle cultivation consists of 3 stages:
The planting and colonisation period (the first 4-7 years) in which the trees adapt to
field conditions and the fungus spreads;
The consol idati on period until the 10
years, as the brule develops and the first
truffles appear;
The production phase, as the orchard attains full production, which can last a further
25-30 years or more.
The establi shment of the trees is critical - plants with quicker growth are the first to form the
brule and to produce fruiting bodies. Oaks, hazel and hop-hornbeam are planted at distances
ranging from 4 x 5m to 8 x 8m. Fertilisers are often used but excess use can be damaging to
the .fungus. Good qual ity seedlings and the use of tree shelters is also important.
' ..
Young plantation trees showing the brute - likely to fruit soon
Soil management influences soil moisture organic matter levels and soi l biology. Choices must
be made between Chemical control of weeds, mechanical soil tilling and grassing (maintaining a
grass cover between trees). Herbicides are not generally recommended.
In the production phase, SGii tilling is sometimes used to increase truffle production - it appears
to sometimes increase size, depth and yields of fruiting bodies.
Summer irrigation is often used during dry periods, but excessive irrigation (and excessive soil
water levels) are detrimental to truffle prod.uction.
Mulching of trees is common, usually with calcareous stones but also with shrub branches or
cereal straw. The aim is to retain soil moisture but using alkaline stones does appear to
maintain alkaline soil conditions and improve fruiting.
Trees are pruned from years 3-5 onwards, after trees are over 1 m high, with an inverted cone-
shape (ie a cone standing on its point) sought.
Searching for truffles is almost always carried out with specially trained domestic female pigs
(truffle hogs) or trained dogs. Truffle hogs have an innate ability to sniff out truffles (due to a
compound within the truffle similar to androstenol , the sex pheromone of boar saliva, to which
the sow is keenl y attracted) but they will eat the truffles too if they can so need careful control.
Truffle dogs must be trained to sniff out truffles.
Truffles are far more difficult to cultivate than saprophytic fungi like shiitake and oyster
mushrooms on logs. Some black truffle plantations produce more than 20 kg per ha per year at
he age of 15 while others of the same age have not produced anything. At full production,
Page 28
irrigated orchards have been known to produce up to 60 kg per ha per year but this is rare.
Individual fruiting bodies can be up to 7cm in diameter and weight 1 O g .
Mature cut fruiting body
The price obtained for black truffles varies greatly from year to year which makes an economic
evaluation very difficult. World production is likely to increase, not only from Europe but also
from Australia and New Zealand. The prices paid by wholesale dealers to truffle growers
depends on the annual production that year, the quality, size and degree of impurities of the
truffles (with truffles from plantations more highly valued) and the country where sold. In recent
years wholesale prices of 400-600 Euros per kg have been common, though retail prices can be
much higher.
Other benefits
Trufficulture has a number of other benefits, not least in helping stem rural depopulation in
marginal agricultural areas. Environmental benefits include controlling soil erosion and
increasing water infiltration rates.
Truffle production is largely compatible with wildlife and game (except for excessive population
of wild boar), extensive livestock production (ie undergrazlng by sheep or goats) and wildfire
hazard reduction (truffle orchards constitute excellent fuelbreaks, due to both brOles and
Reyna-Domenech, A & Garcia-Barreda, S: European Black Truffle: Its Potential Role in
Agroforestry Development in the Marginal Lands of Mediterranean Calcareous Mountains. In
Rigueiro-Rodriguez et al: Agroforestry in Europe: Current Status and Future Prospects.
Springer, 2009.
Autumn olive in forestry
Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbel/ala) is known by agroforestry practitioners as a very useful
winlbreak shrubs, nitrogen-fixer, bee plant and fruiting plant. Its use in forestry as a nurse has
huge potential.
The genus Elaeagnus contains some 45 species of flowering plants, the vast majority of which
are native to temperate and subtropical regions of Asia.
Autumn olive is a large multi-stemmed shrub native to China, Korea and Japan that was
introduced to the UK in 1830.
A rounded bush in appearance with a fast growth rate, it can reach a height and spread of 5m
(its normal maximum) in 7-9 years, sometimes less. Drooping branches in time touch the
ground and can self layer. However plants do not spread via suckering.
Elaeagnus umbellata at Dartington, Devon
Leaves and shoots are covered with silvery-brownish scales, giving the plant ' a whitish-grey
brown colour from a distance. The leaves are alternate, simple, 3-1 Oem long and 3-4cm wide.
The flowers are small, silvery white, without petals, which appear in April and May. They are
fragrant and pollinated by bees, especially wild and bumble bees, and sometimes other insects.
The Fruits ripen to a mid red in September and October. The fruit is a fleshy drupe, 6-12mm
across, containing a single seed about 3 x 1 mm which accounts for about 10% of the fruit
weight. The fruits ' are sometimes eaten by birds - though they are astringent before full
In some southern states of the USA, autumn olive is classified as invasive and planting is
prohibited, although it was planted until recently to provide cover and wildlife food. In Britain it
has shown no invasive tendencies.
Autumn olive can be grown from seed or cuttings. Each shrub can produce several thousand
seed. Fresh seed should be sown immediately or mi xed with sand, and allowed to stratify over
winter for 3-4 months. Seeds germinate well but seedlings are quite prone to damping off
The easiest cuttings to take are hardwood cuttings in winter of the recent season's growth, 7-
12mm in diameter. This is the best way to propagate better fruiting selections.
Autumn olive is a hardy shrub (tolerating -40C) , tolerant of a wide range of soil types and
conditions. It thrives on all but the most alkaline shallow soils, tolerating pH 4.8 to 6.5. It also
tolerates saline soils. It grows best in full sun or light shade, though its seedlings are shade
intolerant. It is very resistant to honey fungus and seems to have no particular pests or
diseases in Britain.
It provides excellent shelter both in summer and winter. It remains in leaf for a long season in
Britain - late February or early March through to late November or even December. Even in
winter it's thick bushy growth gives protection. Once established it is very drought resistant.
It grows well on infertile soils because it is a nitrogen-fixer, so it has root nodules housing
bacteria which can take nitrogen from the air and feed it to the plant. Some of the nitrogen
fi xed is used by the plant but some can be used by other nearby plants too.
Reclamation and environmental protection
Autumn olive has long been planted in North America, as windbreaks (it was widely planted
after the 1930' s dustbowl) but also in reclamation projects on opencast coal mines because it is
tolerant of the low pH found on such sites. It can also be used to stabilise eroded soils in
coastal areas due to its salt spray tolerance.
Fruit production
Fruits are borne on second-year and older wood, and have a unique sweet-tart flavour.
As well as some ornamental varieties being selected which fruit well , a number of fruiting
varieties have been selected both in the USA and in the UK by Martin Crawford of the ART.
American varieties include Brilliant Rose, Delightful , Garnet , Jazbo, Hidden Springs, Jewel ,
Ruby, Sweet-N-Tart. UK varieties include Big Red, Newgate and Red Cascade.
Fruits on E.umbellata 'Big Red'
The fruit are a rich source of vitamins and minerals (especially vitamins A, C and E), flavonoids
and other bioactive compounds. It is also a good source of essential fatty acids, which is
unusual for a fruit. Elaeagnus umbellata fruits contain high levels of Iycopene, an antioxidant
that has been shown to decrease the likelihood of prostrate and other cancers and may even
reverse their growth. Lycopene is a bright red pigment, also found in tomatoes (but there is 15
times the amount in autumn olives) and other red fruit and is the most common carotenoid
pigment in the human body.
Three years after panting, yields of fruits are in the range 2.7 to 6.2 kg per plant. Five year old
plants yield up to 8 kg per plant and six year old plants up to 16 kg per plant from the best
fruiting selections. Individual fruits weight 0.4 to 0.5g.
The plants are being propagated as Yautumnberry" in the USA to try and make the fruits sound
more palatable!
Use in forestry
Many hardwood trees, including black walnut (Juglans nigra) have shown improved growth
when grown with Elaeagnus umbellata and other nitrogen fixing species. Autumn olive
enhances growth of the companion tree by fixing atmospheric nitrogen and by decreasing
herbaceous competition.
Trials in North America have shown that interplanting autumn olive with black walnut can
i ncrease soil nitrogen mineralisation rates, increase black walnut leaf nitrogen levels, and
substantially improve black walnut growth and yield compared with growing black walnut alone.
The autumn olive may also in<;lirectly enhance black walnut growth and yields by reducing
incidence of leaf fungal diseases through interactions with microorganisms in the litter layer.
Trials in the UK started in 2000, and recent results show that although tree nurses did not
significantly affect growth of walnut (Jug/ans regia), walnut height growth with autumn olive was
significantly greater. Walnut trees grown with E.umbellata also had fewer multiple stems and
finer branches, fewer multiple stems at the tree bases, and higher nitrogen nutrition, indicating
that there are significant early benefits from interplanting walnut with autumn olive, which aided
the walnut interplant by (1) improving the microclimate; (2) a forcing effect , or 'drawing up' due
to reduced side light ; (3) increased nitrogen availability and (4) excellent weed control. The
autumn olive in such a system will eventually be killed off by a combination of shading and (with
walnut) the allelopathic nature of juglone in the walnut leaves.
The British climate is changing rapidly and there will be significant impacts on trees and forests.
Growing hardwood trees with compatible nurse species will provide clear benefits, particularly
where the nurse is tolerant of dry soils, as is E/aeagnus umbel/ata.
Page 33
As well as preserving soil moisture, improving microclimate, and soil conservation; saleable
foliage and a fruit crop offer opportunities for diversification and income generation while the
crop trees grow and mature. .
Black, Bet al: Autumnberry (Elaeagnus umbel/ata): A Potential Cash Crop. Journal of the
American Pomological Society 59(3):125-134, 2005.
Clark, J & Hemery, G: The use of the autumn olive in British forestry. Quarterly Journal of
Forestry 2006, Vol .100: 4, 285-288.
Clark, J, Hemery, G & Savill , P: Early growth and form of common walnut (Juglans regia L.) in
mixture with tree and shrub nurse species in southern England. Forestry, Vol 81 , No.
5, 2008.
Crawford, M: pers. comm. 2009.
Agroforestry in Portugal
Like other Mediterranean countries, Portugal has a high diversity of agroforestry systems. Four
major silvopastoral systems still exist despite the decline, as elsewhere, of multiple land-use
Pyrenean oak system
Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) is one of the most abundant and characteristic oaks in the
Iberian peninsula. It is deciduous and occurs in the transition zone between Mediterranean and
temperate deciduous forests.
This oak is mainly found in the form of coppices or young forests, and there are some 62,000 ha
in Portugal (mainly in the northeast) as well as a similar area in West/Northwest Spain. The
Portuguese area has a sub humid Mediterranean climate with average annual temperatures of
11.9C and rainfall of 740-1380 mm per year according to altitude. There is a dry period in July
and August.
This oak silvopastoral system produces firewood, fodder and welfare for traditionally managed
flocks of small ruminants. The coppices are not used by flocks under private control , but are
held and managed communally.
Pyrenean oak coppices are characterised by the presence of a tree layer, planted at densities
between 400 and 100 stems per hectare depending on the land use and age. The understory is
dominated by oak regeneration and to a lesser extent by shrubs such as Cytisus spp. , Erica
spp. , and Genista (alcatB. The herbaceous layer is scarce due to leaf fall and tree shading.
In the past , the traditional coppice cycle was 10-20 years but they are now over 20-25 years.
The wood felled is mainly used as firewood. The woods provide forage and shade for small
ruminants , including acorns. The trees benefit from the fertility left by manure.
Unlike the oaks found in the Montado system (see below), Pyrenean oak regenerates easil y
when felled. Traditionally the most common animals grazed were indigenous goat and sheep
breeds. Currently, some shepherds cut tree branches to feed to the kids in winter. During the
period when trees are in leaf (May-October). sheep flocks move through Pyrenean oak
woodlands, mainly searching for shelter and to rest in the middle of the day. Oak leaves are
eaten mainly by goats.
Acorn production spans late September to earl y November. Acorns are eaten by both sheep
and goat flocks. In winter, goats spend some time in the woodlands (eating understory grass
and shrubs) but sheep very li ttle.
Chestnut tree systems
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) is a mUltipurpose species cultivated for timber, nut production
(or both) , tannin production and other associated products, the mO$t important of which is
In Portugal , chestnut forests cover 35,000 ha. Coppices for timber occupy 10% of the area and
high forest stands are unusual ; the largest area is that of chest nut orchards for nut production.
High mortality rates from the diseases chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitical and ink
disease (Phytophthora spp.) affect the main areas of chestnut production.
Chestnut orchards are frequentl y intercropped with cereal crops for direct consumption by
sheep. Low planting densities of 70-100 stems per hectare, using a spacing of 10 x 10m or 12
x 12m allow for several years of intercropping. Goats are excluded since they can damage the
bark of the trees.
Traditionally, sheep in flocks eat the chestnuts left over on the ground after ' harvest. In the
orchards intercropped with cereals for direct consumption, sheep grazing takes place in winter
and part of spring. Where there is no intercropping some grazing at these times is sti ll
common, with the coarse understory species being eaten.
Trees are pruned every 3 years in February-March to maintain fruiting. Regular ploughing, 3-5
times a year, is traditional for weed control and to ease harvesting, however this has damaged
soil structure and caused the spread of ink disease.
Olive tree systems
As in most other southern European regions, olive orchards intercropped with annual crops or
vines is an ancient type of land use in Portugal. The intercrops are usuall y cereals , grape vines
or forage crops (eg. rye, oats.)
Olives are cultivated for the fruits, with old and unproductive trees used for firewood. As a by
product, olive leaves are used as a fodder crop at pruning time in February-March. After
harvest, sheep and goats feed on the remaining fruit left on the ground. The understory species
are mainly grazed in spring. Ploughing 2-3 times a year is common but damages the soil
structure and subsidies are now in place to persuade farmers not to plough.
Traditionally, olive tree density is 100-125 trees per hectare (9 x 9m or 10 x 10m spacing).
Recent intensive olive plantings are much denser but do not have mUltipurpose uses.
Montado systems
The montado is the most extensive agroforestry system in the Iberian peninsula. It is
characterised by the presence of an open tree layer, mainly dominated by Mediterranean
evergreen oaks - holm oak (Quercus Hex) or cork oak (Q.suber) - and to a lesser extent by
deciduous oaks (Q.pyrenaica and Q.faginea). The understory herbaceous vegetation is
dominated by winter annuals and to a lesser extent by small evergreen shrubs.

Portuguese montado
The montado system occurs under the Mediterranean climate with long very dry summers. Cork
oak dominates in the coastal areas where the oceanic influence is stronger, while holm oak
dominates in the driest areas.
Cork oak in Portugal after bark harvest (source: Wikepedia)
Traditionally, the herbaceous layer has been maintained by cereal cultivation over long
rotations, and regular ploughing is used to prevent shrub colonisation - however this practice is
now though to be spreading cork oak diseases.
Tree density varies widely from 20 to 80 trees per hectare, with higher densities in cork
montados where the main product is cork from cork oak, and lower densities in holm montado,
where the aim is to maximise acorn production for feeding livestock.
Cork and holm oak have direct fodder use, providing acorns and leafy branches, and indirect
value as shelter for cold in winter and heat in summer. Acorns are eaten when they fall in
autumn and winter.
The traditional system was highly diversified in terms of livestock types, with sheep, goats, pigs
and cattle all used. Pigs are now mainly used to graze on acorns between October-February,
gaining about 60 kg live weight over 75 days. 9 Kg of holm oal< acorns corresponds to the
production of about 1 kg pork.
In ancient times, holm oak was also valued for charcoal production. Nowadays, only cork
production from cork oak is highly valued as a forest product , and Portugal is the worlds major
cork producer. Cork bark can be harvested in cycles of 9 years. The scare stories about plastic
wine stoppers threatening cork oak forests appear to be exaggerated.
Castro, M: Silva pastoral Systems in Portugal: Current Status and Future Prospects. In
Rigueiro-Rodriguez et al: Agroforestry in Europe: Current Status and Future Prospects.
Springer, 2009.
Agroforestry in the Netherlands
Despite Medieval practices which led to almost complete disappearance of Dutch forests, an
agroforestry system later developed and existed for a long time: high -growing fruit trees
(boguards) with an understory of grass, which was mowed or grazed by cows and sheep. More
recently, a number of systems, mainly involving walnut , have been triafled.
'Boguard' system
Last century, a large area of fruit orchards were situated on clay soils between the rivers Rhine
and Meuse, with mature fruit trees (apple, pear, cherry) spaced at 50-150 trees per hectare.
The grassy vegetation beneath was largely 'boguard' species, like Dactylis glomerata, Holcus
mollis and H.lanatus which were usually mowed or grazed by cows and sheep (and sometimes
pigs, for example under plum trees). It was a system which developed with multiple products,
without subsidies.
Poplar system
In the south of the country there 'is along history of growing poplar for industrial purposes
(veneer for matchsticks) over a large area. The grass cover has been used for hay making or
cattle grazing. Poplars are established at 100-200 trees per hectare in lines. Recent trials
have shown thai the growth of arable crops (eg. maize, sugar beet) is economically feasible for
at least 6 years in such systems, before shading reduces crop yields significantly.
A lllor9 recent system includes poplars, elder (Sambucus nigra) and hyacinth bulbs.
Alder systems
At the borders of the wetlands of the northern part of the country, a system using rows of alder
(Alnus glutinosa) has developed. A dense network of alder rows is established, between which
farmers kept cows or harvested grass. During summer, cows grazed the meadows between the
trees. In winter, the alders were pruned vertically (which branches used as firewood) or felled
(for firewood or construction timber) in a 24 year rotation. Grass growth woul d be increased by
the nitrogen fixation of the alders.
A more recent system uses Italian alder (Alnus cordata) intercropped with various horticultural
Walnut systems
A number of different systems have been set up in the last few decades, mostly with a grass
understory to either cut or graze directly. Others understory crops include hazelnuts and a
mixture of hazelnuts and sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).
Two walnut varieties were selected from the north of the country for their characteristics of good
timber form, low susceptibi lity to diseases, and high nut yields, named ' Di onym' and ' Amphyon' .
They are particularly for organic cultivation.
Black locust system
Thi s is a recent system intercropping black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) with potatoes.
Oosterbaan, A & Kuiters , A T: Agroforestry in the Netherl ands. In et al:
Agroforestry in Europe: Current Status and Future Prospects. Springer, 2009.
Book review
The Living Landscape
How To Read And Understand It
Patrick Whitefield
Permanent Publications, 2009; 360pp; 19.95.
ISBN 978-1-85623-043-8
Most people reading this review in Agroforestry News
will probably be involved in sustainable gardening or
sustainable agriculture in some way , and will have found
themselves asking: now just what has happened to this
piece of land here? Whether it is your own land you
have just bought , land you have owned for a while, land
you are looking at for someone else, or just land you are
seeing as you travel through the British landscape, this
book is for you. Even if you think you can read a piece
of land pretty well , this book will surprise and fascinate
you by del ving into the complexity of land in this country
and how it has come to be as it is.
rt ..
, .i 1
The layers of history and evolution are uncovered bit by i
geology, the author explains how the rocks beneath the soil came to be, and how they explain
the soil properties in a particular place. Soil itself and the plants in it come next , followed by
climate and microclimate, how they affect a site and what will grow there. The human history of
the landscape is an important part too, for in Britain there is a long history of human
modification of the land virtually everywhere.
The effects of wild animals - and how to recognise which are around - are discussed followed
by niches - how plants and animals find their own place to survive. Succession in the
landscape changes everything and this leads to chapters on trees, woods and how woods work.
Grassland, heaths and moors are also discussed. Water, hedges, roads and paths have also
affected the landscape over time and have their own chapters.
Each chapter is interspersed with diagrams, sketches and notes that the author has taken over
two decades of living and working in the countryside.
What began as a Permaculture design aid has ended up as an impressive piece of work, itself
filling a niche where few books exist. Much has been written about landscape history in the last
decade or two, but very litUe about landscape reading. Here, Patrick Whitefield shares a
lifetime's knowledge about the complex interactions that go to make up the fascinating and
varied landscapes we see around us.
Although obviously of interest and great use to anybody with a connection to the land, this book
should also interest all with an interest in ecology, geography and the natural world.
Courses in 2010 with Martin Crawford
- Director of the Agroforestry Research Trust
Forest Gardening
2010 dates: 22-23 May, 12-13 June, 3-4 July, with more to be announced .

The overall aim of this two day course is to give you an overview of how to design, implement
and maintain a temperate forest garden. Teaching sessions will be interspersed with frequent
visits into our 14-year-old established forest garden.
Practical information on tree crops, shrub crops, perennials and ground covers will be
complemented with visits to our forest garden to look at our successes and failures, as well as
to taste unusual leaf and fruit crops.
Course fee: 150 (non-residential ) includes lunches (vegetarian) + teas/coffees etc.
Advanced Forest Gardening 25-26 September 2010
For the first time we are running a course for those already under way with their own forest
Unlike the taught forest gardening course, this course will be based very much around the
participants, inviting them to talk about their own gardens and discussing their successes and
failures. It should be a good way of troubleshooting problems you are having and getting good
ideas for trying new things. Will include visits into the Dartington forest garden.
Course fee: 120 (nonresi dential ) includes lunches (vegetarian) + teas/coffees etc.
Growing Nut Crops 9-10 October 2010
This weekend course will cover all aspects of growing common and uncommon nut crops in
Britain. .
Teaching sessions will be interspersed with visits to forest garden and trials site where several
nut crops are grown. Several unusual nut crops will also be available to taste. .,.
Common nuts covered are Chestnuts, Hazelnuts and Walnuts. Less common species include
Almonds, Butternuts, Heartnuts, Hickory nuts, Monkey puzzle, Oaks with edible acorns, Pine
Course fee: 150 (non-residential) includes lunches (vegetarian) + teas/coffees etc.
For more details and a booking form for any of these courses please contact:
A.A.T. , 46 HUnters Moon, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, Tag 6JT. Fax/Tel: 01803840776.
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk. Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
Agroforestry is the integration of trees and agriculture/ horticulture to produce a
diverse, productive and resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade and emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
tall and small trees, shrubs and ground layers in a self-sustaining, interconnected
and productive system. .
Agroforestry News is published by the Agroforestry Research Trust four times a
year in November, February, May and August. Subscription rates are:
21 per year in Britain and the E.U. (17 unwaged). 39/2 years.
26 per year overseas (please remit in Sterling)
36 per year for institutions.
A list of back issue contents is included in our current catalogue, available on
request for 4 x 1 st class stamps. Back issues cost 4.00 per copy including
postage (5.00 outside the E.U.) Please make cheques payable to 'Agroforestry
Research Trust' , and ,send to: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon,
Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6JT, UK. Fax/telephone: +44 (0)1803 840776.
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk. Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk.
Agroforestry Research Trust
The Trust is a charity registered in England (Reg. No.1 007440) , with the object to
research into temperate tree, shrub and other crops, and agroforestry systems, and
to disseminate the results through booklets, Agroforestry News, and other
publications. The Trust depends on donations and sales of publications, seeds and
plants to fund its work, which includes various practical research projects.
Agroforestry News
Black truffle
VOlume 17 Number 4 August 2009
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 17 Number 3 May 2009
2 News: Forest Management / Cones as a crop / Surge
of interest in wild foods
4 Food exploration in the Caucasus
9 Soil organisms
21 The Campanulas
31 Coast redwood for timber
35 American gooseberry mildew
37 Biochar: an unknown quantity
40 Book reviews: Proper Pruning of Grapevines / A year
in a Forest Garden / Asian Vegetables
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearly or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefully before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species. The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterly by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Tolnes, Devon, Tag 6JT. U.K. Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
New interactive database on indicators of sustainable
forest management in Europe
Thet Timber and Forestry programme of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
(UNECE) and FAO has released a new web-based resource tool designed by the international
community to enable researchers, policymakers, practitioners and the general public to access
data on Europe's forests. The database is a comprehensive research toot based on the report
State of Europe's Forests 2007, and includes data which have so far not been published.
This is the first time that such a comprehensive set of information pertinent to sustainable forest
management and forest assessment in Europe is being published via an online data
management system. It provides an unprecedented scope of information, collected by
hundreds of individuals and dozens of agencies, and is accessible through a user-friendly
interface which enables users to extract all the data for a single country, or to compare
indicators across several countries.
This new database offers a tremendous resource for anyone interested in learning more about
Europe's forest data and activities pertaining to sustainable forest management in Europe. In
addition to characteristics of European forests and forestry data in general , the user also has
access to information on the balance of carbon in forest ecosystems, forest health condition and
status of forest biodiversity.
Aspects of production, including wood and non-wood products and services, are presented
along with information on protected forest areas. The database also provides information on
social and economic aspeets of the forestry sector. In line with the structure of criteria and
indicators for sustainable forest management , the data are presented in a way that illustrates
trends of chosen variables for the years 1990, 2000 and 2005. It is expected that this series
will be continued (reporting for 2010 has started). The interface enables online review and
simple analysis, but also allows selective of the requested data in different formats.
These data are presented alongside other statistical data from different parts of the UNECE
work programme. The UNECE/ FAO Timber Section encourages the international community to
take advantage of this resource, and to make suggestions for further improvement.
For further information, please contact:
Mr. Roman Michalak
Forest Resources Officer
UNECE/ FAO Timber Section
UNECE Trade and Timber Division
Palais des Nations CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 2879
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 0041
E-mail: fra.timber@unece.org
Database: hUp:/Iw3.unece.org/pxweb/ Dialogl
Page 2
Cones as a crop .
The Big Pine Cone Company, in North Otago (New Zealand). collects, processes and markets
the magnificent cones from Pinus cQulteri (Coulter' s pine) that can grow to 400 mm long. The
largest cones have given the tree its other name, the widow maker, as they can be lethal if they
fall on somebody.
The cones are picked from trees planted in the high country where summers are hot and winters
cold, where P.cou/teri seems to grow best. The trees which are harvested are about 35 years
old, grown from seed imported from Colorado. The cones can take 4-5 years to grow to size
and must be picked before the core rots and the cone drops of its own accord.
University students are hired to climb trees and harvest cones twice yearly for four days. The
cones are opened and dried, then some are sliced into layers and . made into useful items.
Coaster slices show off their beautiful grain which contracts with the wicked spines they have at
the ends of the 'petals'.
Source: Tree Cropper, 57, pp 26-27.
Surge of interest in wild foods
In woods across Britain, wi ld garlic is being harvested for soup makers, wood sorrel gathered
for Michelin-starred chefs, and spruce needles picked to infuse hand-made chocolates.
Harvesting "wild food", the seasonal salad leaves, nuts, fruit and fungi that grow abundantly
across the UK, has led to a new industry in professional foraging for restaurants and a sharp
surge in public interest .
They are harvesting - for free - nearly 200 ingredients throughout the year: from common crops
such as hazelnuts, brambles and wild strawberries, to dozens of different fungi, through to
specialist crops such as elm and lime leaves, or sweet clcely. Chefs are now paying up to 50
a kilo for wood sorrel, with its sharp lemony tang, and 40 a kilo for elusive morel mushrooms,
handpicked from the forest floor.
In Scotland, the Forestry Commission estimates that wild harvesting, including harvesting
lichens and mosses for natural remedies and horticulture, is worth as much as 21 m a year. Its
rapid growth - by as much as 38% since 2001 - has led the commission to launch a campaign
this month to promote wild foods wi th a code of good practice, to ensure the increaSing number
of foragers harvest carefully and, where needed, with the landowner's permission.
It is no longer a niche, cottage industry. The fruit and vegetables wholesaler Fresh Direct,
which supplies Harrods, high street cafes, and Michelin-starred chefs, has begun extending its
wild harvesting operations from Scotland into England.
The search for wild food mirrors the surge in popularity for home-grown produce, all otments and
"guerrilla gardening" - where patches of vacant and under-used inner-city land are converted
into al fresco fruit and vegetable patches - championed by chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-
Whittingstall .
The Dorset-based food writer has promoted the marine equivalent of foraging in forests in his
latest River Cottage handbook, Edible Seashore, harvesting wild foods such as cockles, sea
beet and marsh samphire from the seaside and coastline. The survival expert Ray Mears has
devoted television series to wild foods on land, and the small Kent-based firm Forager is about
to publish a dedicated guide and recipe book on edible plants, The Forager Handbook.
To cope with the surge in demand, the charity Reforesting Scotland has set up a "wild
harvesting" trade association by the commission and the Scottish government.
Roger Coppock, the Forestry Commission's head of business policy development, said one
recent survey suggested that well over a million people in Scotland alone had foraged at least
once in the past two years. "That started to reveal that it wasn't just a case of cranks and
back-to-the-earth type people collecting. It went right across the spectrum from the unemployed
to lords: he said. There have been suggestions that the Forestry Commission could increase
the -availability of wild foods by actively sowing its plantations with mushrooms, berry bushes
and wild salads.
Coppock believes that much more could be taken sustainably from the commission's land. "It is
nowhere near being over-harvested," he said. "There's an awful lot of potential
Source: The Guardian, 27/4/2009
Food exploration in the Caucasus:
An encounter with wild Hablitzia
Justin West
During a five week plant exploration and seed collection expedition last summer I
had the good fortune df meeting many of the wild ancestors of our common (and
less common) fruit and perennial vegetables. One lucky encounter in particular
was with Hablitzia tamnoides in the wilds of an Armenian canyon. This meeting
encapsulated so well the journey, the land, and the possibilities that arise when
one stays attentive and open to dynamic unfolding of one's local environment.
For years I have been exploring the world of edible plants, and for years 'The Caucasus' have been
synonymous with wild edible plant origins. As I came to find out this past summer, species of almonds,
chestnuts, walnuts, hazel , pomegranate, grape, hawthorns, plum, apples and pears to name a few of
the more common ones, aU can be found growing wild in the Caucasus. Three of the four wild
ancestors to wheat originate in the Caucasus. Along with these there is a wide range of herbaceous
species found there, and there is one in particular with which readers of both The Permaculture Activist
as well as Permaculture Magazine, would be familiar. It was this little known but much talked about
Hablitzia tamnoides, or Caucasian Spinach, which had peaked my curiosity. In August 2008 and earl y
September I had the great fortune to travel through Russia, Armenia, and Georgia to explore the homes
of some of these wild edible ancestors, and with luck to finally meet Hablitzia in the wild. To my
pleasant surprise the journey of discovery revealed much to me about the plant, and the plant, equally,
drew forth from me a clarity of perception about the land.
The Caucasus are roughly the same size as the state of Washington (200,000 sq kilometres), and at
about the same latitude. However, with 6350 vascular plant species this is close to twice the botanical
diversity of Washington. As well, an abundance of wildlife inhabit this area (130 species of mammals)
including brown bear, lynx, wild cat (ancestor to the modern house cat), European bison, boar, striped
hyena, antelope, wild goat , wild sheep (ancestor to domestic sheep), deer, jackal , tiny populations of
Caucasian panther, and of course, humans. (The Caucasus are, it is supposed, the land bridge through
which our ancestors walked out of Africa.)
The diversity so inherent to this place is an authentic embodiment of t ~ e wide range of ecosystems
found in the Caucasus, and a prime example of the permaculture principle of diversity at the edges.
The Caucasus are bordered at the west by the Black Sea, to the east by the Caspian Sea, in the north
is the Greater Caucasus mountain range, and to the south the semi- arid and arid deserts of Turkey and
Iran. Here at the confluence of these geological features subtropical and temperate climates meet. The
Black Sea provides warm humid air, which is buffered from the cold northern winds by the Greater
Caucasus range. Many species took refuge here during the last ice age and some from the Tertiary
and early Quaternary periods still exist to this day.
All of this biodiversi ty is astounding to contemplate when one considers how long people have lived in
this part of the world, and to consider that these people, and this land, have been conquered by virtually
every passing empire known through the history books. It is a land which has known armed conflict as
a way of life for millennia, and yet somehow, an abundance of biological diversity remains. ' Equally
miraculous is that despite the coming and passing of these many empires (or perhaps because of it)
there is a wellspring of cultural, religious. and linguistic diversity which rivals any other part of the world
of comparable size. It should be noted, however, that the past twenty years have seen remarkable
changes in the Caucasus and consequential pressures on the other-than-human biodiversity not
previously felt. Many species are rapidly showing up in the ' Red Book' of endangered species.
I wondered, amongst this almost overwhelming diversity of landscapes and plants, if I might stumble
upon Hablitzia, but I knew very little about where to look. I kept my eyes open at every opportunity; in
every market, and along the many kilometres of trails my partner, Li An, and I walked. However, I was
not so much hunting the Hablitzia as I was allowing the landscape to unfold around me and reveal
herself in the way that she so chose. Through this mode of open and exploratory travelling we
experienced Russian mountainsides covered in ancient Old-growth chestnut. Kilometres from the
Iranian border in southern Armenia we cracked nuts at the base of a walnut five feet wide, and walked
into a hollow ancient Sycamore (Platanus orientalis) over 12 feet wide. In the steppe of Armenia we
s h ~ r e d bread, cheese, and smi'les with semi-nomadic Kurdish herders. In Georgia, near the border to
Chechnya, we drank homemade vodka out of sheep horns with animist herders, and later followed fresh
bear tracks along a glacier fed stream to the headwater valley. Later, in a small village market we
marvelled at jars packed full of pickled Smilax shoots and Staphylea flowers.
Throughout it all we were continually inspired by the sheer diversity of landscapes, and the equal
diversity of fresh organic
fruit and nuts in the markets of the cities and in the villages, wherein peoples'
private gardens the pears, apples, plums, persimmons, apricots, peaches, and Cornelian cherries were
seemingly woven together with streamers of grape vines, under- planted in patches with corn, beans,
and other vegetables, and lined with rows of walnuts and chestnuts along the streets. It often felt as
though we had stepped not into the past, but rather into a future realm. a post cheap oil era, where the
relative lack of cheap consumerist goods were all but forgotten amongst the daily rituals of food
production and celebration. Wine, as one park botanist in Georgia told me, is the petrol of the
Georgian. Every glass of homebrew had a distinct flavour, a murmur, and, at times a flagrant yeasty
bellOwing of the small garden in which the grapes were grown.
Page 6
When we did end up coming across
Hablitzia the whole experience of
discovery; the land, the topography and
the climate, seemed such a concrete
reflection of the actual qualities of the
plant herself. There were no giant, jaw-
dropping, primeval trees around. The
landscape was beautiful but modest in
scale. The weather was hot , and
provoked in us an overarching desire to
seek shade. Finally, like Hablitzia's
creeping shade loving tendrils, the trail ,
the river, and the canyon itself wound its
way through the highland steppe, a
meandrous crevice of dark green growth
within an otherwise brown and rocky land.
We had only been in Armenia a couple of
days and were still getting our bearings
on the extensive views of dusty browns,
and red ochre's after two weeks in the
lush greens of subtropical and montane
Russia. Soviet era Russian tapa maps in
hand, we set out on a four day trek to
follow this particular river to its source.
From a 1
century Roman sun goddess
temple and a 9
century Orthodox
Christian cave monastery carved out of
the volcanic 'tufa' rock, we entered into
the narrow river valley in spectacularly
poor fashion. We soon learned from the intensity of sunshine that any climbing, up or down, would
have to be done in the cool morning hours. Though steep, rocky, and, at times, nearly impossible to
pass through the thick brush, we enjoyed happing upon wild almonds, pears, the ever-present cherry
plum (Prunus cerasifera var. divaricala), and at least two species of hawthorn (Crataegus spp.).
That same morning we arrived in a tiny village perched on a slope whicr would eventually take us into
the canyon. Through the persistent care of some simple irrigation ditches the people of the
village have, over countless generations, created an oasis of green, visible from miles away. Meter
diameter walnut trees (Jug/ans regia) surrounded the turf roofed stone huts built into the side of the hill.
They had gardens of corn and beans planted in the north side shade of these giant trees, a testament to
the solar intensity of this place. A woman and her daughter picking apples in their orchard reached over
the fence and handed me some. Before I could say thank you she was already walking back to her
trees to get us some more. A brief, choppy conversation of mostly smiles and hand gesticulations led to
us being ushered into their home and sat down at their table for 'coffee'. Goffee, in the Armenian and
Georgian way, roughly translates into 'everything in the cupboard being laid out onto the table and
made available to share'. From this one small corner cupboard emerged a banquet of apples, pears,
peaches, grapes, watermelon, butter, cheese, jam, bread, honey, dried apples and apricots, walnuts,
tomatoes, cucumbers, sweets, and, bizarrely, even the eldest son's university diploma in computer
Any chance of beating the noon-day heat
was happily thwarted by our gracious
hosts. We set out eventually in the
baking sun, our packs fully laden with
juicy apples and walnuts one can crack
with two fingers. We stopped a couple of
times to cool off in the river, and when we
eventually set camp that evening we
were well within the shady overgrowth of
the riparian oak and ash of the canyon
bottom. The next morning I discovered in
the light of day that we had luckily set up
camp at literally the very confluence of
the two forks of the river. With that good
omen and knowing therefore exactly
where we were on the map, we headed
up the northern of the two along the river,
following, when available, a rough game
We had just taken a long break, and
began walking again when I noticed the
Hablitzia growing very inconspicuously
amongst some currant bushes, and up a
rocky north facing cliff wall. It looks a bit
like bind weed, but instead of binding
steadily up it followed more of a lazy
crawl up or down, or along whatever
seems to be available. It was, however,
the flowers which clued me in to the fact
that I had actually stumbled upon
Hablitzia. I recognized them from
having seen the same tiny green The author finds Hablitzia
flowers on Stephen Barstow's Hablitzia
in Norway. Upon closer inspection I found small green tissue-paper thin caps, almost like moss
operculum's, falling away from the centre of the flower and revealing shiny black
seeds. just like the ones Barstow had given me last summer. What luck. There were several plants
along this dank canyon wall , each with only a couple of gangly 6-10 foot long shoots on them.
While harvesting some of the abundant seed available, I wondered if this would be the first of many
more encounters with Hablitzia over the course of the next f ~ w weeks. As it turned out it was not. We
saw it twice more that day and never again afterwards in the wild, nor the markets.
Later that same day, after a run in with a litter of young boars and a disinterested sow, we arrived at a
wider part of the canyon. The river had already narrowed substantially, and the landscape was
beginning to soften into less profound cliff faces. Here we found a series of caves each with a large
welcoming opening, providing ample headroom and plenty of flat space to layout our bedrolls. The first
cave had a ceiling with too many loose rocks, so we moved on to the second wherein we found a lush
Hablitzia inhabiting the better part of half the cave floor. The shoots on this giant were about 15-17 feet
long and the leaves were in some cases as much as a foot long and wider than my hand; again with
abundant seed available. We harvested some while lamenting that the cave fl oor was a bit too slanted
for a comfortable night sleep.
We moved on and discovered a third cave, practically hidden by the thick foliage of an apple tree whose
trunk was actually growing from within the cave and arching it's way out into the light, thereby partially
concealing the entrance. A fine dusty ground and a solid ceiling made it an easy decision to stay.
That evening we built a fire and in the orange glow of the flames, our shadows danced on the cave wall
as we steamed Hablitzia leaves. I pondered the odds. While preparing for this trip, the prospect of
discovering wild Hablitzia had grown to mythic proportions. I had read about it, and seen it in Stephen
Barstow's garden in Norway, Martin Crawford's forest garden in Dartington, England, as well as in Eric
Toensmeier and Jon Bates forest garden in Massachusetts. The fact that my partner and I had, without
really knowing where in a region of several countries we might look, left me feeling a bit stunned; that
the Hablitzia happened to be just at the point of setting seed really felt a bit miraculous.
I sat by the fire that night and in the wake of an incredibly satisfying day, wondered about the signs
constantly surrounding us. The growth forms of plants are forever providing snapshots of their
environments and the events that have led up to the present moment. I considered the apple tree,
branches swaying above me. Likely a feral sprout from a core tossed aside decades ago, the form the
tree has taken speaks volumes about the shape of the cave, the wind in the valley, moisture availability,
and the daily path of sunshine overhead. The seedling germinated, perhaps with a tiny bit of
composted apple core, perhaps a few mOLlse droppings, a fair trade for the food which the other apple
seeds in the core likely provided. Why didn't the mouse eat all of the seeds? Had a raptor passed at
just the right moment startling the mouse into hiding? Being on the inside lip of the cave that apple
seedling must have had a tough first few years, seeking light, and more, searching deep in the rocky
ground for moisture. Each slightest bend in a branch unfolds a whole history lesson to the patient and
attentive observer. Plants embody so perfectly their environments through their own unique and
creative process of interpretation. So do we.
1 It should be noted that although this has been a land of near perpetual confl ict, it is also a place in
which I have never felt a stronger sense of community and cooperation.
2 Chemical horticul ture is largely uneconomical, and besides, Armenians in particular revel in their fresh
Justin West is the resident applied ecologist at Schumacher College in Devon, UK where he teaches on
the MSc in Holistic Science, as well as short courses. He is currently regenerating the lawnscapes
around the 14th century buildings into productive forest garden polycultures. Ensuring a healthy and
participative relationship exists between the students and the soil is his primary role.
This article was originally published in Permaculture Activist May 2009 - reprinted with permission.
Soil organisms
Soil organisms range from bacteria (0.000001 mm) to earthworms (30 em in the UK). They all
play an essential role in decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients and fertilising the soil.
Soil organisms and the conditions they need
There are four levels of organisms:
Microflora: bacteria and fungi, making up 75-90% of the soil living biomass and are the
primary decomposers of organic matter. They transform organic molecules into
mineral nutrients (e9 nitrate, ammonium, phosphate) that ar,e then available for uptake
by plants.
Microfauna: single cell animals such as protozoa and nematodes (simple worms),
preying on the microbes.
Mesafauna: collembola (springtails) and mites also prey on bacteria and fungi.
Macrofauna: larger organisms including earthworms, beetles, ants and termites.
Almost all soil organisms (except some bacteria) need the same things we need to li ve - food,
water and oxygen. They eat a carbon-based food source which provides all their nutrients,
including nitrogen and phosphorus. They require a moist habitat, with access to oxygen in the
air spaces in soil. These reasons explain why 75% of the soil organisms are .found in the top
5cm of soil. There are other factors that determine whether species can survive and grow,
including pH, temperature, salt content, type of carbon and heavy metals.
How to encourage soil organisms
Maintain ground cover
Bare ground is prone to moisture loss, high temperatures and lacks a supply of organic material
to feed soil organisms. Keeping the soil covered with living plants, mulch, straw or leaf litter is
the first step in promoting soil biota. A living ground cover of plants is best. Plants devote
considerable energy to encouraging soil organisms by secreting sugars, vitamins and other
organic compounds into the soil.
Minimise physical disturbance
Use reduced tillage or no-tillage to minimise destruction of soil organisms and habitat, and
reduce the rate of organic matter breakdown. Reduce compaction by machinery and animals so
that there is space in the soil for air and water to move. Minimise bare surface abrasion by
animals and machinery as this leads to microbial damage and possible removal by soil erosion.
Build soil organic matter with green manure crops, mulch or pasture
A diversity of carbon sources will provide food for a wide range of soil organisms. A diverse soil
biota has been linked to disease-suppressive soils. Adding mulch or compost is particularly
useful when these materials can be concentrated rather than spread thinly. The
carbon:nitrogen ratio determines the rate of breakdown and therefore the release of nutrients
into the soil. Include grazing animals if appropriate.
Maintain adequate moisture
Windbreaks I shelterbelts, ground cover and soil organic matter all help to retain soil moisture.
Rotate crops or have mixed species planting
Soil organisms need different root types to maintain a diverse community. They are then better
Page 9
able to resist disease organisms, decompose residues , cyc e nutnents and malntam their
activity throughout the seasons. Consider introducing a legume or actinorhizal species with its
associated rhizobia bacteria in the root nodules to convert atmospheric nitrogen to soil bound
Plant roots & I
plant rasldues
Beneficial mycrohrrhizal I
& pathogenic fungi
II Protozoa
Mycophagous \
Fungal feeding I
nematodes . I
Microarthopods (collembola, mites)
\ MacroarthroPods\ \
\ \ Enchytraelds \
Plant growth
& control
Nutrient cycling
Organic matter
Leaching of nutrients
and pollutants
Organisms in the soil , what they feed on, and their impact on plant growth.
Reduce the use of chemicals
Insecticides and fungicides applied to plants also affect insects and microbes in the soil. Some
species may be eliminated with frequent use. Some chemicals leave long term residues.
Copper from some fungicides can accumulate in soil and affect other organisms such as
Use organic fertilisers (eg manures)
Organic fertilisers provide microorganisms with a stable food source which then provides long
term slow release nutrients to the plants. Organic fertilisers have less adverse impact on soil
populations but they should not be considered a substitute for mulching or ground cover.
Check the pH and modify It if necessary
The ideal range for most organisms is pH (water) of 5-8. Strongly acidic soil djscourages
important organisms such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria and earthworms.
Improve poor drainage by building good soil structure
Waterlogging encourages anaerobic bacteria that can damage plant roots.
Consider your soli as part of a complete agro-ecological system
A healthy. diverse soil food web actively decomposes organic matter and cycles nutrients.
ensuring soil and plant health.
Soil Bacteria
Bacteria are some of the smallest and most abundant microbes in the soil. In a single gram of
soil, there can be billions of bacteria. There are an estimated 60,000 different bacteria species,
most which have yet to be even named, and each has its own particular roles and capabilities.
Most live in the top 10cm of soil where organi c matter is present.
Characteristics of bacteria
Some bacteria species are very fragile and can be killed by slight changes in the soil
environment. Other species are extremely tough, able to withstand severe heat, cold or drying.
Some can lie dormant for decades waiting for favourable conditions. Others can extract
nitrogen di rectly from the air or break down some toxic substances. Populations of microbes
can boom or bust in the space of a few days in response to changes in soil 1Tloisture, soil
temperature or carbon substrate. To gain advantage in this process, many microbes release
antibiotic substances to suppress particular competitors. In this way some species can
suppress other disease-causing microorganisms.
Types of bacteria
Bacteria play an important role in decomposition of organic materials, especially in the early
stages of decomposition when moisture levels are high. In the later stages of decomposition,
fungi tend to dominate. Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas ffuorescens are examples of
decomposer bacteria. Additions of these bacteria have not been proved to accelerate formation
of compost or humus in soil.
Nitrogen fixers
Rhizobium bacteria can be inoculated onto legume seeds to fix nitrogen in the soil. These
nitrogen-fixing bacteria live in special root nodules on legumes such as clover, beans, medic,
wattles etc. They extract nitrogen gas from the ai r and convert it into forms that plants can use.
This form of nitrogen fixation can add the equivalent of more than 100kg of nitrogen per hectare
per year. Azotobacter, Azospirillum, Agrobacterium. Gluconobacter, Flavobacterium and
Herbaspirillum are all examples of free-living, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, often associated wi th
Disease suppressors
Bacillus megaterium is an example of a bacterium that has been used on some crops to
suppress the disease-causing fungus Rhizoctonia solani. Pseudomonas ffuorescens may also
be useful against this disease. Bacillus subtilis has been used to suppress seedl ing blight of
sunflowers, caused by Alternaria helianthi. A number of bacteri a have been commerciali sed
worldwide for disease suppression. However, suppression is often specific to particular
diseases of particular crops and may onl y be effective in certain circumstances.
Aerobes and anaerobes
Aerobic bacteria are those that need oxygen, so where soil is well drained aerobes tend to
dominate. Anaerobes are bacteria that do not need oxygen and may find it toxic. This group
includes very ancient types of bacteria that live inside soil aggregates. Anaerobic bacteria
favour wet, poorly drained soils and can produce toxic compounds that can limit root growth and
predispose plants to root diseases.
These soil bacteria help to slowly break down humales and humic acids in soi ls. Actinobacteria
prefer non-acidic soils with pH higher than 5.
Sulphur oxidisers
Many soil minerals contain sulphides but thi s form of sulphur is largely unavailable to plants.
Thiobaciffus bacteria can covert sulphides into sulphates, a form of sulphur which plants can
Management of bacteria
Though largely unaffected by cultivation, bacteria populations are depressed by dry conditions,
acidity, salinit y, soil compaction and lack of organic matter. Except in the case of certain seed
inoculations, it is very difficult to build desirable populations of bacteria just by adding them to
the soil. If populations of soil bacteria are low, it is probably because conditions are
unfavourable, so any new additions are likely to suffer the same fate.
A more effective approach to bacteria management is:
address soil health problems such as acidity and compaction.
ensure that there is a good ground cover of grass or mulch.
build organic matter through practices such as green manure crops, mulching,
strategic grazing and minimum tillage.
Each of these measures has multiple benefits and will also support healthy populations of soil
bacteria. Poor drainage encourages undesirable anaerobic bacteria. Reducing compaction and
building soil organic matter will improve water infiltration without compromising moisture storage
and will discourage anaerobic bacteria.
Soil fungi
Soil fungi are microscopic plant-like cells that grow in long threadlike structures or hyphae that
make a mass called mycelium. The mycelium absorbs nutrients from the roots it has colonised,
surface organic matter or the soil. It produces special hyphae that create the reproductive
spores. Some fungi are single celled (eg yeast). Fungi have many different structures but they
can act in similar ways and thus are not as plant specific in their needs as some soil bacteria
such as Rhizobia
Fungi groups
There are three functional groups of fungi:
Decomposers or saprophytic fungi convert dead organic matter into fungal biomass (ie their own
bodies), carbon dioxide and organic acids. They are essential for the decomposition of hard
woody organic matter. By consuming the nutrients in the organic matter they play an important
role in immobilising and retaining nutrients in the soil. The organic acids they produce as by
products help create organic matter that is resistant to degradation. Fungi are capable of
degrading cellulose, proteins and lignin, some of which are highly resistant to breakdown.
These fungi develop mutually beneficial relationships with plants. They colonise plant roots
where they help the plant to obtain nutrients such as phosphorus from the soil. Their mass
hides roots from pests and pathogens, and provides a greater root area through which the plant
can obtain nutrients.
Mycorrhizal fungi are perhaps the best known of the mutualists. Mycorrhiza means fungus
root , and mycorrhizal fungi grow inside plant roots. Up to 5m of Jiving hyphae of mycorrhizal
fungi can be extracted from 19 of soil. The four groups of mycorrhizal fungi are arbuscular,
ectomycorrhizal, ericoid and orchid. Arbuscular mycorrhiza (VAM) are the most common form
of mycorrhiza, especially in agricultural plant associations. This fungi has arbuscles which are
growths formed inside the plant root that have many small projections going into the cells.
About 150 arbuscular mycorrhiza species are known. Most plants (90%) have some sort of
association with these fungi except for groups such as the Cruciferae family (eg mustard,
canola, broccoli), Chenopodiaceae (eg spinach, beets, saltbush) and Proteaceae (banksia,
This group includes the well known fungi such as Verticillium, Phytophthora, Ffhizoclonia and
Pythium. These organisms penetrate the plant and decompose the living tissue, creating a
weakened, nutrient deficient plant , or death. The pathogenic fungi is usually the dominant
organism in the soil. Soils with high biodiversity have been shown to suppress soi l-borne fungal
diseases. Suppression mechanisms include the suite of native organisms out-competing the
pathogenic organisms, physically protecting roots and providing better nutrition to the plant.
The role of fungi in the soil
Fungi perform important functions within the soil in relation to nutrient cycling, disease
suppression and water dynamics, all of which help plants become healthier and more vigorous.
Decompose woody organic matter
Along with bacteria, fungi are important decomposers of hard to digest organic matter. They
use nitrogen in the soil to decompose woody carbon rich residues low in nitrogen and convert
the nutrients in the residues to forms that are more accessible for other organisms.
Increase nutrient uptake
Mycorrhizal fungi are well known for their role in assisting plants in the uptake of phosphorus.
Ectomycorrhizal fungi can benefit plants by promoting root branching and increasing nitrogen,
phosphorus and water uptake due to their large surface area and internal cellular mechanisms.
Improve plant resilience
The sheer size and mass of fungal hyphae help decrease plant susceptibility to pests, diseases
and drought.
Improve soil structure
Fungal hyphae bind the soil particles together to create water stable aggregates which in turn
create the pore spaces in the soil that enhance water retention and drainage.
Where fungi are found
Fungi are found wherever there is hard, carbonrich woody organic matter. This could be dead
rotting trees in a forest , leaf litter on the surface of orchard soils, or plant roots. Mycorrhizal
fungi are found naturally in all soi ls. Techniques to determine their presence usually focus on
indirect methods or look at the colonisation of plant roots and are therefore not that reliable. It
is difficult to get mycorrhizal fungi to grow outside their natural state, but staining techniques
and microscopy have been useful in identifying mycorrhiza from soil and plant samples. Fungi
tenet to dominate over bacteria and actinomycetes in acid soils as they can tolerate a wide pH
range. Fungi can survive in the soil for long periods even through periods of water deficit by
living in dead plant roots and/or as spores or fragments of hyphae.
Management of soil fungi
There are several things you can do to encourage fungi in your soil:
Provide a hospitable environment
To ensure fungi remain in the earth the soil environment must be kept as hospitable as
possible. Thi s means there must be enough food (organic matter), suitable host plants (if
necessary). water and minimal disturbance of the soil.
Reduce tillage
Tillage has a disastrous effect on fungi as it physically severs the hyphae and breaks up the
Reduce fungicide use
Broad-spectrum fungicides are toxic to a range of fungi. Their use will result in a decline in the
numbers of beneficial types. Herbicides are not generally thought to affect fungi directly,
though the removal of some plant types may affect the distribution of different fungi types.
Grow plants that encourage mycorrhizal fungi
There are certain plant groups that do not form associations wi th mycorrhizal fungi. When
these plants are included in a rotation, fungi numbers drop due to the lack of host plants and
this reduces fungi colonisation in the following crop. A bare fallow has the same effect.
Mycorrhiza increase under pasture because pasture includes highly mycorrhizal plants such as
grasses and legumes. VAM numbers reduce under wheat, canola, the brassicas and lupin. A
low level of mycorrhizal colonisation in plants is also associated with high available phosphorus
levels in the soil.
Nematodes or eel worms are small, non-segmented worms. They are only 50 microns in
diameter and about 1 mm long or less. They have a resistant cuticle (ski n) and an ability to
adapt well to environmental change which has enabled them to become the most abundant
multicellular animals on earth. Most nematode species have a beneficial role in the soil, but we
tend to know more about the pest species because of their impact on agricultural production.
Nematodes live mainly in soil where they feed on fungi , bacteria and other soil organisms and in
some cases plant roots.
Types of nematodes
There are three functional groups of nematodes:
Saprophytic nematodes
Saprophytic nematodes are also known as decomposers because they break down organic
matter in the soil, release nutrients for plant use, and improve soil structure, water holding
capacity and drainage. They are usually the most abundant type of nematode in the soil.
Predaceous nematodes
These nematodes feed on other nematodes, so can be useful in controlling pest species. They
eat larger nematodes by attaching themselves to their cuticle and scraping away until the prey's
internal body parts can be extracted. They also eat bacteria, fungi, and small single celled
organisms (protozoa). The digested pests are then added to the soil organic matter reserves.
Some have become specialised predators of insects, known as entomopathogenic nematodes
Parasitic nematodes
Parasitic nematodes cause problems in agricultural production because they feed on plant roots
and slow plant growth. In some cases they also all ow the entry of fungal rots that destroy the
roots. Agricultural cultivation tends to encourage an increase in parasitic nematodes over other
Nematodes are described by their different feeding type or mouthparts. Bacterial feeding
nematodes have a tube like structure to suck up bacteria. Fungal feeding nematodes have a
piercing needle (stylet) which penetrates fungal cells and enables the nematode to suck up cell
contents. Root feeding nematodes also have a stylet to pierce root cells. Predators feed on
other nematodes and small soil organisms.
The role of nematodes in the soil
Nematodes are thought to play three main roles in the soil:
Nutrient cycling
Nutrients such as ammonium (NH4 +), stored in the bodies of bacteria and fungi , are released
when nematodes eat them. The bacteria and fungi contain more nitrogen than the nematodes
need so the excess is released into the soil in a more stable form where it can be used by
plants or other soil organisms. Nematodes also physically break down organic matter which
increases its surface area, making it easier for other organisms to break it down further.
Dispersal of microbes
Bacteria and fungi cannot move around in the soil without ' hitching a ride' inside or on the back
of nematodes. Nematodes are parasitised by some bacteria and fungi, which helps their
dispersal through the soil.
Disease and pest control
Beneficial nematodes attack and kill a range of pests such as borers, grubs, thrips and beetles
with negligible effects on non-target species. The life cycle of beneficial nematodes includes
four juvenile stages plus adult and egg. It is during one of these juvenile stages that the
nematode is able to live freely in the soil and find a host to infect.
Beneficial nematodes use two strategies to find their prey. Some species wait for their prey to
move past them in the soil and locate them by direct contact: this is called ' ambushing'. The
ambushers function at the soil surface where they attack highly mobile pests such as cutworms.
Others actively search out their prey using a 'cruising' strategy. They function at various depths
in the soil and prey on slow moving targets such as grubs and weevil larvae. When the
nematode catches its prey, it penetrates the prey's body through a body cavity; one nematode
genus even has a special hook to break in through soft cuticle. Once inside the body, the
nematode releases bacteria from its gut. Each nematode species hosts a different bacteria
species. Within 24-48 hours the bacteria cause the death of the prey. However the nematode
will continue to feed on the multiplying bacteria while maturing and producing a new generation
of nematodes. The life cycle of most nematodes is betweel;l 3-7 days so several cycles may be
completed before a new host is needed. Once the prey has been consumed the nematode
leaves to search for new prey.
WHere are nematodes found?
As with most of the organisms that live in the soil nematodes are found in the top few
centimetres of the soil. They live in the thin films of water surrounding soil particles, as they
require water to move. They are generally found in well-structured soi ls with large pore spaces,
or coarser soils, where food is easily available
Management effects on nematodes
To ensure nematodes remain in the earth, the soil environment must be kept as hospitable as
possible. This means there must be enough food (organic matter), suitable hosts, water, and
minimal disturbance of the soil. The use of pesticides that enter the soil can also affect
nematode numbers in the soil. There may well be direct detrimental effects from some
pesticides such as nematicides whi le other agricultural chemicals produce non-target effects
that damage nematode populations. The loss of a specific host species from the soil when
species-specific soil applied pesticides are used can also reduce food sources and thus
nematode numbers.
Nematodes as indicators
Analysis of the diversity and complexity of nematode communities in the soil is a valuable tool
which indicates soil biological fertility, or soil health. The different ratios of bacterial, fungal
feeders and other types indicate the type of soil functions are occurring. Varying ratios can
indicate if the food web is disturbed, maturing, structured or degraded.
Soil organisms and nutrient supply
Plants require many elements from the soi l and largely depend on microbes to extract these
nutrients and incorporate them into organic molecules. As organic matter breaks down, the
nutrients dissolve into the soil water where they can be accessed by plant roots. This means
that at anyone time the nutrients in the soil can be in one of three places; bound to soil
particles, incorporated in organic matter or dissolved in the soil water.
~ P O O I
~ . - . . . - (
The relative sizes of these nutrient pools vary widely for different elements and different soils.
Metal nutrients
In most soils there is a relatively large mineral pool or reserve of metal nutrients such as iron,
calcium and magnesium. Microbes tend to only playa minor role in the extraction of these
nutrients, and deficiencies are usually corrected easily by the use of lime, gypsum or trace
fertilisers, all of which are permitted in organic farming. There are large reserves of. potassium
in most clay soils but it only becomes available to plants when it is released into soil water,
where it is readily leached away by rainfall.
Non-metal nutrients
Soil minerals in the form of sulphides are common but sulphur is not available to plants in this
form. Thiobacillus bacteria can covert sulphides into sulphates, a form which plants can use.
These bacteria occur naturally in healthy soils. Some sulphides can be slowly oxidised to
sulphate by exposure to air. Sulphate can also be added to the soil in the form of gypsum.
Phosphorus .
Many soils are phosphorus fixing. This means that phosphorus in the soil is tightly bound to the
soil particles and relatively unavailable to plants. Thus the mineral pool of phosphorus in the
soil can be relatively large but little of it available to plants. Phosphorus is exported from the
farm every time a product is sent to market. This loss has to be replaced either as fertiliser or
by releasing some of the remaining soil phosphorus.
Certain fungi can assist plants to extract phosphorus from the mineral pool. Penicillium radicum
and Penicillium bi/aiae can be inoculated to seeds of wheat, lentils or medic to help the young
roots obtain phosphorus from the soil. Other plants rely on mycorrhizal fungi, in particular
vesicular arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (VAM). VAM fungi can be encouraged by such
as minimum tillage, short fallows, winter cover crops and crop rotations that avoid brassicas and
Rock phosphorus contains about 15% phosphorus in an insoluble form. Only when it is applied
to acidic soil is the rate of release likely to approach that needed by most plants. Phosphorus
can be added in an organic form. Poultry manure is up to 2% phosphorus and in this form the
phosphorus is not fixed by the soil. Another approach is to add rock phosphorus to a compost
pile. The composting action helps release the phosphorus in an organic form.
Liming will help reduce phosphorus fixation in acid soils but the amount needed may be
considerable. Heavy additions of animal or poultry manure can also reduce phosphorus
fixation. In both cases the decrease in fixation is a long-term process. Practices that build soil
organic matter will help to build the organic pool of phosphorus. Fertiliser additions may still be
necessary but at rates low enough that rock phosphorus or manures may suffice.
Over three quarters of the air we breathe is nitrogen. Unfortunately plants cannot use this form
of nitrogen and instead require it as nitrate or ammonia. Plants generally depend on microbes
to fix nitrogen into useable forms. From the point of view of a plant , phosphorus fixation is bad
news because the phosphorus becomes unavailable, but nitrogen fixation is good because it
makes more nitrogen available. Legumes such as clover and beans have root nodules of
Rhizobium bacteria which fix nitrogen. The Actinorhizal plants have similar nodules with
Frankia bacteria. Such bacteria can fix 100kg or more of nitrogen per hectare per year.
Some free living soil microbes can also fix nitrogen but their contribution is relatively small.
Examples of these microbes include Azotobacter chroococcum, Azospirillum brasilense,
Agrobacter radiobacter, Gluconobacter diazotrophicus, Bacillus polymyxa, Flavobacterium and
Herbaspirmum. Attempts to inoculate soil with these microbes to improve nitrogen fixation have
not proven very effective.
Nitrogen cycle

, o oro
leaching loss
The best way to maintain nitrogen is to encourage nitrogen fixation with legumes, actinorhizal
plants or legume rotations. Acid soils discourage fixation so acidity may need to be remedied
by liming. Organic fertilisers contain only small amounts of nitrogen. To match nitrogen fixation
from legumes these fertilisers would have to be added at rates measured in tons per hectare.
As a result the transport and spreading costs are considerable. As well, spreading manure in
large quantities can lead to soil and water pollution. Nitrate is readily leached from the soil by
rainfall, and ammonia is lost by volatil isation back into the air. Building soil organic matter
helps reduce these losses by encouraging nitrogen storage in the organic pool.
The rhizosphere
The rhizosphere is the zone of soil surrounding a plant root where the biology and chemistry of
the soil are influenced by the root. This zone is about 1 mm wide, but has no distinct edge.
Rather, it is an area of intense biological and chemical activity infl uenced by compounds
exuded by the root, and by microorganisms feeding on the compounds.
As plant roots grow through soil they release water soluble compounds such as amino acids,
sugars and organic acids that supply food for the microorganisms. The food supply means
microbiological activity in the rhizosphere is much greater than in soil away from plant roots. In
return, the microorganisms provide nutrients for the plants. All this activity makes the
rhizosphere the most dynamic environment in the soil. Because roots are underground,
rhizosphere activity has been largely overlooked, and it is only now that we are starting to
unravel the complex interactions that occur.
Roots in the rhizosphere
The roots exude water and compounds broadly known as exudates. Root exudates include
amino acids, organic acids, carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins, mucilage and proteins. The
exudates act as messengers that stimulate biological and physical interactions between roots
and soil organisms. They modify the biochemical and physical properties of the rhizosphere
and contribute to root growth and plant survival. However, the fate of the exudates in the
rhizosphere and the nature of their reacti ons in the soil remain poorly understood. The
exudates have several functions:
Page 18
Defend the rhizosphere and root against pathogenic microorganisms
Root cells are under continual attack from microorganisms and survive by secretihg defence
proteins and other as yet unknown antimicrobial chemicals. Research has found that exudates
in the rhizosphere vary according to the stages of plant growth. For instance, there are more
carboxylates and root mucilage at the six leaf stage than earlier.
Attract and repel particular microbe species and populations
High levels of moisture and nutrients in the rhizosphere attract much greater numbers of
microorganisms than elsewhere in the soil. The composition and pattern of root exudates affect
microbial activity and population numbers which, in turn, affect other soil organisms that share
this environment.
Keep the soil around the roots moist
Research has found that rhizosphere soil is significantly wetter than bulk soil, which protects
roots from drying out. Exudates released from roots at night allow expansion of roots into the
soil. When transpiration resumes with daylight , the exudates begin to dry out and adhere to the
soil particles in the rhizosphere. As the soil dries and its hydraulic potential decreases,
exudates lose water to soil.
Obtain nutrients
The exudates help roots adsorb and slore ions for plant use. For instance, flavonoids in legume
roots activate Rhizobium meli/oti genes responsible for root nodulation that enable the plant
roots to obtain nitrogen from the air. Exudates enable the transfer of up to 20% of all
photosynthetically fixed carbon to the rhizosphere. Exudates may also be responsible for
encouraging vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae that colonise roots and send out miles of t h r e a d ~
like hyphae into the soil , increasing the surface area and distance covered by the roots and
taking up nutrients for the plant.
Change the chemical properties of the soil around the roots
The rhizosphere environment generally has a lower pH, lower oxygen and higher carbon dioxide
concentrations. However, exudates can make the soi l in the rhizosphere more acid or alkaline,
depending on nutrients roots are taking from the soil. For example, when a plant takes up
nitrogen as ammonium it releases hydrogen ions which will make the rhizosphere more acid.
When a plant takes up nitrogen as nitrate, it releases hydroxyl ions which make the rhizosphere
more alkaline. This action doesn't usually affect the bulk pH of the soil but is important for the
small organisms that live in the rhizosphere because many soil organisms do not move far in
the soil.
Stabilise soil aggregates around the roots
Sticky mucilage secreted from continuously growing root cap cells is believed to alter
surrounding soil.
Inhibit the growth of competing plant species
Plant roots are in continual communication with surrounding root systems and quickly recognise
and prevent the presence of invading roots through chemical messengers. This process is
known as allelopathy. In agriculture it can be beneficial when crop plants prevent weeds from
growing nearby; or detrimental when the weed plants prevent crops growing.
Living organisms in the rhizosphere
The rhizosphere is a centre of intense biological activity due to the food supply provided by the
root exudates. Bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa, slime moulds, algae, nematodes,
enchytraeid worms, earthworms, millipedes, centipedes, insects, mites, snails, small animals
and soil viruses compete constantly for water, food and space. Soil chemistry and pH can
influence the species mix and functions of microbes in the rhizosphere. The living organisms
Interact with plant roots
Most soil microorganisms do not interact with plant roots, possibly due to the constant and
diverse secretion of antimicrobial root exudates. However, there are some microorganisms that
do interact with specific plants" These interactions can be pathogenic (invade and kill roots and
plants), symbiotic (benefit plant growth), harmful (reduce plant growth) , saprophytic (live on
dead roots and plants) or neutral (no effect on plants). Interactions that are beneficial to
agriculture include mycorrhizae, legume nodulation, and production of antimicrobial compounds
that inhibit the growth of pathogens.
Mineralise nutrients
Microorganisms convert organic forms of nutrients into inorganic forms that plants roots can
take up. In legumes and actinorhizal plants, microbial root nodulations enable plants to fix
nitrogen from the air.
Encourage plant growth
Rhizosphere microorganisms produce vitamins , antibiotics, plant hormones and communication
molecules that all encourage plant growth.
Stabilise soil aggregates
Waste products and secretions from microorganisms help combine soil particles into stable
aggregates around plant roots. These aggregates hold moisture within, but allow drainage
between aggregates, so that root hairs do not get waterlogged.
Cox, J & Reid, G: How to Encourage Soil Organisms. NSW DPI Faclsheet , 2005.
Jenkins, A: Nematodes; Soil Fungi. NSW DPI Factsheets, 2005.
Lines-Kelly, R: The Rhizosphere. NSW DPI Factsheet, 2005.
Reid, G: Microbes and Minerals. NSW DPI Factsheet , 2005.
Reid, G & Wong, P: Soil Bacteria. NSW DPI Faclsheet, 2005.
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Page 20
The Campanulas
The bellflowers or harebells consist of some 300 species of annual, biennial or perennial herbs,
from small dwarfs only a few em high to large plants of 2m high, originating from the Northern
Within this huge range, there are a group from Alpine regions which are not as easy to cultivate
as the hardier perennials; some are happy growing on walls in Britain. Most are hardy to -15 or
-20"C, though the Alpine species dislike a combination of winter cold and wet , and are hardy to
-15C or so.
The leaves are alternate and often vary in shape on a single plant, with larger, broader leaves
at the base of the stem and smaller, narrower leaves higher up; the leat margin may be either
entire or serrated (sometimes both on the same plant). Many species contain white latex in the
leaves and stems. The flowers are produced in panicles (sometimes solitary), and are bell-
shaped, t ypically large (2-5 cm or more long), mostly blue to purple, sometimes white or pink.
The fruit is a capsule containing numerous small seeds.
Most species need only a moderately fertile soil in sun or partial shade, and are easy to fit in to
a forest garden.
Deer seem to leave most Campanula species well alone.
General uses
As well as having beautiful flowers, the leaves of many (perhaps all) are edible, though the
quality varies from specie to specie. The flowers of all are also edible with a slight sweetness.
Flowers of all species are valuable to bees. Beetles, flies and butterflies are also attracted to
the flowers. Cut flowers can be harvested from the taller species. From most species a
number of garden forms have been selected with different coloured or larger flowers.
Known useful species are listed below. In addition there are a number which were reputedly
used in native North American medicine but the reports are generally vague so these have not
been listed.
Campanula alliariifolia
Perennial from western Europe and Eastern Asia, growing to 70cm high and SOcm wide. In leaf
April-November, flowers July-September. Easily naturalised in light shade beneath trees where
it will self seed.
The leaves, rather hairy, are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Can be used as a ground cover planted about 45 cm apart.
C.carpatica (source: Wikipedia commons)

Campanula carpatica - Tussock bellflower, Carpathian harebell
Alpine perennial from the Carpathian mountains in southeastern Europe, growing to 3Qcm high
and wide. Flowers Jul y-August. The subspecies turbinata is slightly smaller and has slightly
hairy leaves.
Like a well drained site and can be grown on a wall as long as there is soil for it.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked - they are slightl y chewy raw, and the flowers in salads.
Plants form a dense clump and be used as a ground cover planted about 30 em apart.
Campanula cochleariifolia - Fairies thimbles
Alpine perennial from the mountains of most of temperate Europe, where it grows in cracks in
rocks to 15cm high. Flowers July-August. '
Like a well drained site and can be grown on a wall in cracks, where it might well spread widely
via creeping rhizomes.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, with a pleasant mild flavour; and the flowers in salads.
C.garganica (source: Wikipedia commons)
Page 23
Campanula garganica
Evergreen perennial. Often short lived, from Italy, growing 15 em high, hardy to -20C. Flowers
Likes a well drained site and can be grown on a wall as long as there is soil for it.
The le,aves are eaten raw or cooked, with a pleasant mild flavour ; and the flowers in salads.
. .
Campanula glomerata - Clustered bellflower
C.g/omerata (source: Wikipedia commons)
Robust perennial from Europe and Western Asia growing 1 m high and 60 em wide. Extremely
hardy. Flowers June to July.
A very vigorous upright species which can spread widely if happy.
Page 24
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, with a pleasant mild slightly sweet flavour, suitable as a
major ingredient in salads. The flowers are also used in salads.
Campanula lactiflora
A robust perennial from the Caucasus growing 1.5m high and 75cm wide. Flowers JulyAugust.
A tough plant which copes well with competition, with a branching fleshy rootstock. When
flowering they can often flop over.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, with a pleasant mi ld slightly sweet flavour; and the flowers
in salads.
Campanula lasiocarpa
Alpine perennial from the mountains of Western North America and Eastern Asia, growing 18
em high. Flowers in July.
Not easy to grow, it needs a very gritty soil and excellent drainage. Slugs are very fond of the
plant too.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Campanula latifalia
European and Asian perennial growing to 1 m high and 30 cm wide, flowering July-August.
Robust, upright and shade tolerant, growing well in many soi ls.
The; leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Campanula lati/aba
A robust Siberian perennial growing to 90 cm high and 50 cm wide, flowering July-September.
Closely related to C.persicifofia.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Can be used as a ground cover planted about 45 cm apart.
Campanula medium - Canterbury bells
Biennial from southern Europe, evergreen over winter, growing to 1.2m high and 30cm wide.
Flowers in July. Hardy over winter to -12C or so.
Page 26
Likes a well drained soil.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked (somewhat hairy), and the flowers in salads. The one year
old roots can be eaten much like those of rampion (C.rapunculus),
Green and pale blue dyes are obtained from the flowers.
Campanula persicifolia - Willow bell, Peach-bell
A European, Asian and North African evergreen perennial growing to 1 m high and 45 cm wide
with narrow shiny leaves. Flowers June-August.
Easily grown in most soi ls and beneath trees, though slugs can sometimes be a problem.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked - it was at one time use as a culinary vegetable. They can
be slightly bitter raw. There are leaves available over winter from the basal rosette. The
flowers are very good in salads.
Campanula portenschlagiana
Evergreen perennial from southern Europe, growing 25 em high and spreading widely where
happy. Flowers July-September.
Likes a well drained site and very happy on walls where it can become rampant.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Can be used as a ground cover for well drained sites in sun;
Ca.mpanula poscharskyana
Evergreen perennial from SloVenia to Serbia, growing 25 cm high and spreading widely where
happy. Flowers July-September.
Likes a well drained site and very happy on walls where it can become rampant.
The leaves are eaten raw (slightly tough) or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Can be used as a ground cover for well drained sites in sun.
Campanula punctata - Chinese rampion
Perennial from Japan and Siberia, growing to 35cm high and 75cm wide, flowers in July.
Likes a well drained site, where it can spread freely.
Page 28
The leaves are eaten raw (sl ightly hairy, but have a pleasant sweetness) or cooked, and the
flowers in salads.
Campanula pyramidalis - Chimney bellflower
European perennial, often short-lived, growing to 1.5m high and 50cm wide, hardy to -1O
e or
so. Flowers July-August.
Likes a well drained soil and sun or light shade.
The leaves are eaten raw (slightly sweet) or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Campanula rapunculoides - Creeping bellflower
A robust European perennial growing to 1.2m high and 1 m wide. Flowers July-September.
Can spread aggressively via thick branching roots, and very tolerant of competition. Slugs can
be fond of this plant.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads. Young roots can also be eaten
raw or cooked, with a sweet, nutty flavour.
Campanula rapunculus - Rampion
Mediterranean biennial growing to 90 cm tall (in its second year when it flowers), often grown as
an annual. Flowers July-August.
ForlT!erly much cultivated for its. edible roots , which are like a cluster of finger-thickness roots.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads. The one year old roots are
eaten raw or cooked with a sweet nutty flavour.
Campanula takesimana
Robust perennial from Korea growing 50cm high and wide, flowers June-July. Closely related
to C.punctata.
Can spread freely via roots when happy.
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers in salads.
Page 30
I C,mp'nu/, V",';CO/O'
Evergreen perennial from Greece and the Balkans, growing to 60em high and 45cm wide,
flowers July-September.
Requires a very well drained soil , hates winter wet, hardy to 10C or so. Unfortunately also
very attractive to slugs! .
The leaves are eaten raw or cooked, and can be harvested all winter from the basal rosette.
They have a pea-like flavour with a slight sweetness. The flowers are used in salads.
Propagate by seed, division, and basal cuttings. Campanula seeds are small, some are dust-
like, and are best sown on the surface of a moist compost. Because hybridisation between
species is rare, seeds come true.
Basal cuttings should be taken in spring; divide in spring or autumn.
Crawford, M: ART Useful Plants Database, 2009.
Huxley, A: The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. MacMillan reference, 1999.
Plants for a Future: Database of useful plants, 2009.
All photos from Wikipedia commons are used under the GNU Free Documentation license.
Coast redwood for timber
Britain imports ever increasing amounts of timber from abroad, especially durable and specialist
woods. Considering that chemical treatments to increase wood durability are steadi ly becoming
both safer and less effective, why is that we are not growing more durable timber?
In Britain the name redwood sometimes causes confusion - the Coast redwood is Sequoia
sempervirens whilst the giant sequoia or wellingtonia is Sequioadendron giganteum. Although
there are some similarities in the timbers, there are considerable differences in the trees. This
article is concentrating on the coast redwood.
Recent American experience
Over the past 25 years, radical changes have occurred within the redwood industry in the USA.
Prior to this time much of the timber harvested was old growth redwood, which produced vast
quantities of large section clear heartwood of often very high durability (and produced with
much opposition at times. ) Only small quantities of old growth timber now reaches the market
and speciali st millers. Very littl e old growth remains on the commercial timberlands. The old
growth of any significance than remains is in national parks and other private property. Thus
the industry has had to change from old growth utilisation to 2
and 3
growth utilisation.
The 2
growth is easier to harvest, has less breakage on felling and draws less adverse
publicity - it has become another farmed crop. In many regions trees have attained fine forest
form, with 30m+ (100 ft+) clear stems. The main problem with 2
growth wood is that it often
Page 31
contains far greater amounts of knots and not as much clear heartwood. Yet the industry has
adapted, and introduced new grades of timber which include a percentage of knots and other
oddities. In effect, what was considered a defect in the past has changed into a feature!
The bottom line is that much of the 2
and 3'd growth trees are coarser grained and not as
durable as the old growth, but the new timber grades have been accepted by a receptive market
in the USA. Much of the timber grown in the UK is of simi lar quality to the 3rd and 3
timber in the USA, thus potentially UK grown timber could be used for similar uses .

In its native habitat the species grows in an irregular strip about 450 miles long in a variety of
ecological settings, and can occur in pure stands or with a variable number of other tree
species, including conifers such as Douglas fir, Western Hemlock, Grand Fir, Monterey Pine,
Lawson Cypress, Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar; and variety of Pacific coast hardwood
Redwood trees are highly adaptable and suitable for a wide range of planting possibilities. The
climate of the region is mild with annual rainfall between 0.6 and 3m, falling mostly as winter
Flowering in its home region occurs between November and March, and weather conditions
have a big effect on seed quality. In general the seed viability is quite low. Seeds germinate in
duff , on logs, in debris and under plants as long as adequate soil and water are available.
Seedlings are very susceptible to damping off fungi in leaf litter. Self seeding also occurs in
Britain, having been observed from southern England up to the Midlands.
Redwoods can be propagated by cuttings especiall y from the upward shoots of fast growing
young trees. Basal sprouts or sprouts from cut stumps root fairly easily too. Increasingl y tissue
culture techniques are being used to grow nursery stock.
The ability of redwoods to coppice is an unusual characteristic for a conifer. Old growth sites it
often seems than more ' of the smaller stumps res prout. Sprouts grow more rapidl y than
seedlings and the initial fast growth lasts for several years.
Redwoods have no taproot, but lateral roots are large and wide spreading. Small trees have
better than average wind firmness, and larger redwoods are wind firm under most conditions.
Provenance of seed is important as there are distinct differences in seed zones. The more
northerly seed zones are more cold hardy, grow taller as seedlings more easily, and do better
on better sites. The middle band seems to be better adapted to warmer conditions and grow a
bit stouter as seedlings. The southern end seems to produce seedlings with thicker leaves and
require a bit more fertili sation to grow to an equal tree size.
A prominent special feature of redwoods is the production or burls, which when cut have
figuring inside, sometimes called redwood lace burl , or redwood birdseye burl. The burls are
found in any part of the trunk, in sizes ranging from, a few inches to many feet in diameter.
Some redwoods have a large burl around the root collar and under the soil surface
American usage
The redwoods of California were used for just about everything. They were used for railway
cars, sleepers, casks, water pipes, fencing stakes, shingles, vats, water tanks, flood gates,
trestles, wharf pilings, bridges, furniture, coffins, and insulation amongst other things. Few
other building materials could match redwood's versatility, popularity or abundance.
Before the development of wood preservatives, redwood was used whenever wood came into
contact with the ground. Since the heartwood imparts no flavour to liquids it was particularly
valuable in early water systems.
Redwood has little or no volatile resins and oils. As a result it burns slowly and does not ignite
easily - it is more fire resistant than any other softwood such as Douglas fir or Pine. The wood
developed a reputation for being almost fireproof , after so many redwood buildings were left
standing in the wake of fires that ravaged San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake.
Rest of the world
Redwoods grow in many parts of western Europe, in the Crimea, Turkey, Japan, New Zealand,
Chi le, South Africa, Tasmani a and in the tropics at high enough altitude to provide a temperate
The UK
In the UK there appear to be a whole series of misconceptions with regards to growing
redwoods here such as 'It needs fog to survive' I ' It doesn't produce timber of any use' I ' It
doesn't grow on the eastern side of the country' I 'The are no markets for it' .
During Arwyn Morgan' s visits to many redwood groves, it is clear that redwoods have been
planted or a whole variety of sites, with varying success. They grow as well as any other
species on poor upland bolder soils, but it is on the more sheltered deeper soils that the species
excels. They can grow fine in the east of the UK as long as there is adequate' soil moisture.
Redwoods do not like exposure, and in places the foliage is browned by cold dry winds in all but
the mildest winters, though this does not affect the health of the tree which will continue to grow
Redwoods can be planted with a nurse such as larch, or regrowth of old coppice, but it is
important to make sure redwood plantings are thoroughly weeded until the trees start to grow
rapidly. Most of the redwoods in the UK tend to be planted as single age stands, although there
is one estate which plants redwoods and other conifers in clumps throughout existing forest.
Generally redwoods tolerate considerable shade, but need plenty of light to grow.
Processing logs - Alwyn Morgan's experience
Overall some 300 m
of logs have been purchased, with a large percentage milled and
processed into value added products.
The logs varied from 0.25 - 1.8m in diameter, sourced from five different woodlands. Despite
using a whole range of log types, from butt lengths, 2
and 3'd lengths, some fast grown, others
slow grown, some with even growth patterns, there was very little tension present in any of the
logs during milling.
Some of the logs were debarked, while most had the bark left on prior to milling. Various types
of sawmill were used but the bark easily built up on roller saw guides of band saws - therefore
it is essential to de-bark all logs prior to milling to avoid stoppages further down the line.
One feature of redwoods is that they don't shed dead branches very well , with the end result
that the dead branch stubs will remain in the stem for many years, and hence form a dead knot
which will probably fall out when the timber is seasoned and machined.
The logs divide into two distinct types:
The pink/ red/purple coloured heartwood
The white/yellow coloured sapwood
Both types can be used, but it is only the heartwood which can be durable. The sapwood has
similar working qualities as the heartwood, so although not durable, it is ideal for interior
woodwork, especially if it is to be painted, due to its non-resinous nature and its high stability.
The central core of the log contains solid live knots which form sound lumber, yet as the trees
grow and their lower branches die off, they rarely fall off, the trees expand in girth, and instead
of producing clear wood we can get sapwood of poor quality full of dead/loose knots, and not of
good quality for interior use. The answer to this is in the silviculture: either high prune (thus
reducing knots and produce higher value clear wood suitable for interior joinery), grow in dense
stands (thus limiting branch size, and knocking off dead branches during thinning), or plant at
wide spacings (eg. silvopasture, thus encouraging branches to remain alive and accept the
sound knotty timber.)
Many of the logs milled were in the region of 45 years old and produced:
33% sapwood
33% heartwood with loose/dead knots
33% clear heartwood with sound knots.
Initial air drying tends to be slow, especially in thicker sections. Redwood logs contain
considerable water and are thus heavy even after 2 years. The sawn boards are heavy, but
after air drying they become considerably lighter. The fresh sawn lumber is easily bruised but
hardens and strengthens as it dries.
Some trials were set up to look at weathering and stability comparing tangential sawn and
quarter sawn redwood, western red cedar, oak ,grand fir and Japanese larch. Overall redwood
and western red cedar pmved best, with slight checking on tangential boards but the quarter
sawn boards maintaining full integrity.
Decay tests showed considerable variation in the durability of redwood, with some being far
more durable than the oak samples tested.
Many of the possible markets for redwood and those currently utilising oak. The price of
redwood logs at mill in the USA is similar to that for oak in the UK, however there is not yet a
well established market for redwood timber in the UK, hence currently prices for redwood are
considerably less than for oak.
Red can have a bright future in the UK, as long as careful consideration is given to provenance,
site selection, its early growth and long term management. The fact that is easily coppices
means that its root structure has a permanent soil stabilising effect and re-establishment costs
are minimal.
Redwood's quality of stability and durability when grown in sufficient quality can far exceed any
other species grown in the UK.
Morgan, A: The Growth and Use of Redwoods. Woodland Heritage 2009, pp56-62
Page 34
American gooseberry mildew
American gooseberry mildew, Sphaerotheca mors-uvae, is a North American fungal disease,
which appeared in Europe about 1900 and spread very rapidly. It is now widespread and can
be very damaging not only on gooseberries but also on blackcurrants at times. It is a much
more serious disease in Europe than European gooseberry mildew.
A powdery white coating appears on young shoots from mid spring onwards, spreading rapidly
to all new growth i n moist, sti ll conditions but the leaves are often lej3.st affected. The symptoms
later intensify and stems and fruits develop a brown felty covering containing black dot-like
bodies. The shoots are malformed and stunted, and the fruit small and tasteless.
On gooseberries, fruits are attacked more severely than leaves. On red and blackcurrants, the
symptoms are similar but the leaves are more severely affected than the fruits.
Conditions for infection and spread
The mildew spreads during the season by conidia. The black dot-like bodies that develop later
produce spores; some fall to the ground and discharge their spores in autumn; others remain
over winter and discharge in spring.
Mycelial threads surviving in buds are probably the most important means of persistence.
On blackcurrants, spores on fallen leaves are known to initiate new attacks from May onwards.
The intensity of attacks vary considerably from year to year.
Most traditional older gooseberry varieties are very susceptible. Older blackcurrants are slightly
susceptible. Most recent varieties of both fruits have been bred for resistance.
The disease occasionally occurs on other Ribes spp.
Cut out infected shoot tips in early autumn and prune in winter to increase air flow.
For blackcurrants, collect and burn fallen leaves in winter to try and break the disease cycle.
Don't bother with gooseberries as the fungus overwinters in their buds.
Sulphur is sometimes used (and is acceptable organically) as a fungicide, used at 14 day
intervals starting just before flowering. Spray at dusk when bees are not active. Note, though
that several traditional varieties of gooseberry (eg. 'Careless' and ' Leveller') are sulphur-shy
and will be damaged by applications of sulphur.
More traditionally, sprays made from washing soda (sodium carbonate) or baking soda (sodium
bicarbonate) have been used to control mildew. For baking soda, use one tablespoon per
gallon (4.5 litres) of water, adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Repeat applications after rain.
There are a good number of resistant gooseberry cultivars, including:
400OC. Essentially, a higher temperature biochar will have a greater potential for adsorption of
toxic substances and rehabilitation of contaminated environments.
Biochar as a soil conditioner
The addition of biochar to agricultural soils is receiving much attention due to the apparent
benefits to soil quality and enhanced crop yields, as well as the potential to gain carbon credits
by active carbon sequestration.
Same studies have shown that biochar can aid in:
nutrient retention and cation exchange capacity
decreasing soil acidity
decreased uptake of soil toxins
improving soil structure
nutrient use efficiency
water-holdi ng capacity
decreased release of non-C02 greenhouse gases (CH4, N20)
However, even though these functions may lead directly or indirectly to increased production in
some soils, the benefit of biochar is not universal. In fact, some biochars may have adverse
effects on plant growth, and not all soils respond to biochar additions in the same way.
Studies that have reported positive effects with regard to crop production often involved highly
degraded and nutrient-poor soils, whereas application of biochar to fertile and healthy soils
does not always yield a positive change.
Based on the limited information available, biochars are very variable in nutrient composition
because of the variable feedstocks used and the varying pyrolysis conditions under which they
were produced. Therefore, biochars are variable materials and given the very large variabilities
of nutrient content , we would expect very different plant and soil responses and therefore very
different, currently unpredictable agronomic values of these products as soil amendments. For
example, all the biochars are very low in mineral N 2 mg/kg ) and CI N of the biochars varies
widely, between 7-400 with a mean of 61.
Furthermore, researchers in this area do not seem to have realised that soil organic matter,
produced from decomposed biomass by the soil fauna, is critically important in sustainable
agriculture. And in sustainable agriculture there is no such thing as waste".
Replacing biomass materials applied to fields (eg. straw and manures) with biochar is an
unknown technique of which the outcome nobody knows.
There are some who claim that agronomic use of biochar in subsistence agriculture could have
great benefits. However, appropriate technology and policy needs to be implemented to deal
with environmental issues such as methane and particulate emissions, that could contribute to
climate change and human health risks. Socio-economic constraints and benefits are not
adequately researched. Higher crop yields resulting from biochar applications would be
expected to mitigate pressures on land and would also have relevance to land restoration and
Nobody really knows how the 'terra preta' carbon-rich soils of south America were formed, but
in all likelihood it was not by using charcoal as a replacement for soil organic matter, rather it
was probably a combination of the use of both charcoal and organic mulch material.
Biochar and greenhouse gas emissions
Producing biochar and bioenergy via pyrolysis is a carbon-negative process. The organic
materials being burnt are naturally part of the photosynthesis cycle, so taking the carbon out of
the cycle and locking it in blochar and bio-gases means that there is a net decrease of carbon in
the atmosphere (see diagram below). Due to its high chemical stability, high carbon content
and its potential to reside in soil over decades, centuries, and even up to millennia, biochar
applications have the potential to turn into a long-term carbon sink. Thus in theory, biochar
could play an important role in helping to sequester carbon from the atmospher.e and partially
offset greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels.
If the aim is to primarily to sequester carbon, then applying biochar to fields may not be the
most appropriate thing to do. Biochar will remain stable for much longer if it is not exposed to
the range of fauna in the soi l who will try to reintegrate the carbon into the normal cycle. So
storing it down mines or somewhere similar would make much more sense in this case.
Some of the proponents of biochar are trying to get biochar accepted as a form to earn carbon
credits. Personally I am sceptical about the large scale adoption of biochar production under
the carbon credits aegis, as it likely to have unexpected consequences which may not improve
the planet's chances of avoiding dangerous climate change. .
Biochar production as a carbon negative process
There are too many unknowns about biochar at the moment to be able to make judgements
about its benefits in agriculture. Much more research needs doi ng, and much is under way.
Undoubtedly biochar can store carbon in a stable state for periods of decades or more. The
need for atmospheric carbon reduction is acute and biochar could playa part, along with other
techniques, to achieve some reductions. But the effect on soi ls of reducing organic matter
content if biomass is made into biochar instead of returned to the soi l, may be to reduce soil
fertility and thus productivity, and may have knock-on effects in terms of other soil carbon
storage (apart from the biochar) which at the moment are simply unknown.
Krull, E: Biochar. CSIRO information sheet, 2009.
Australia New Zealand biochar researchers network (ANZBRN)
Page 39
DVD & Book Reviews
Proper Pruning of Grapevines
Lon Rombough
DVD, $33 inc delivery to the UK.
Available from: http://www.bunchqrapes.com/dvd.html
Lon 'Rombough is well known in North America as a writer and grower 01 unusual fruits and particularly of
grapes. This DVD follows on from his successfully book, The Grape Grower, and gives step-by-step hand-
on instructions as to how to prune dormant grape vines.
Several different methods are shown so that any vines can be pruned the best way to ensure top quality fruil
harvests. Includes Jots of tips that only an experienced grower would knowl
A second DVD is included and this ones covers propagation by layering - the fastest way to increase stocks
- frost protection, and the results (in terms of fantastic fruit) of good pruning.
Pruning grapes is a mystery to many folk and I can certainly recommended this OVO to make it quite clear
what you should do and why.
A Year in a Forest Garden
Martin Crawford & Iota Producti ons
OVO, Green Books, 2009; 50 mins; 14.95.
ISBN 9781900322614
Available from the ART for 17.94 including P & P to Britain. www.agroforestry. co.uk
This new DVD successfully manages to convey what a forest garden is all about by following the ART forest
garden at Dartington through a year. This enables the viewer to see what a 15-year-old forest garden really
looks like and consists of .
Not only are the principles explained succinctly, but you can see how they have been applied in a real
situation. Martin shows you how to plan your planting to make the most of the space, taking layers, denSity,
patterning and diversi ty into account. Many unusual (as well as some usual) edible plants are featured.
How to apply the principles -of forest gardening to both small and larger areas is discussed. Some plants
are more appl icable to larger areas but the principles remain the same.
Many forest garden tasks are featured including pruning, coppicing, planting, maintenance, harvesting and
utilising the harvest.
Asian Vegetables
Sall y Cunningham
Eco-Iogic Books, 2009; 132 pp; 14.99.
ISBN 978 1 899233 16 8
Subtitled "A Guide to Growing Fruit, Vegetables and Spices from the Indian Subcontinent " which pretty much
explains what this book aims to do. It is basically a directory of interesting edible plants, subdivided into
leaves, beans, roots, frui ts, spices and ornamentals. The last category, ornamentals, are plants, mostly fruit
trees, which cannot real istically be grown in Britain for their crop, but can be grown as an indoor ornamental .
There is a fascinating selection of over 30 plants featured in the other sections. While most will be well
known to the Asian community in Britain, and some no doubt are grown here, to most UK growers these are
mainly unknown crops. Qui te a few, as you would expect , are annuals, and others can still only be expected
to crop with protection, but I found most interesting those which can be grown outside and the perennials.
One perennial which appears to be surviving increasingly well in the south of Britain are bananas, and they
feature here not for the fruits - there is still little prospect of fruiting bananas outside in Britain! - but for the
leaves. These are not edible in themselves but are used to add flavour as well as being a biodegradable
alternati ve to aluminium foil. A review of different species here indicates the hardiest sorts worth trying .
Other crops may have an interesting future here. Green chick peas, for example, of the right varieties, grew
and cropped well in the hot summer of 2006.
For each plant there is a description of the plant itself , edible and other uses, nutritional value, and
cultivation details for British conditions. Several colour photos accompany each plant. The book is a nice
addi tion for the grower of unusual edibles.
Agroforestry is the integration of trees and agriculturel horticulture to produce a
diverse, productive and resilient system for producing food, materials, timber and
other products. It can range from planting trees in pastures providing shelter,
shade and emergency forage, to forest garden systems incorporating layers of
tall and small trees, shrubs and ground layers in a self-sustaining, interconnected
and productive system.
Agroforestry News is published by the Agroforestry Research Trust four times a
year in November, February, May and August. Subscription rates are:
21 per year in Britain and the E.U. (17 unwaged). 39 I 2 years.
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A list of back issue contents is included in our current catalogue, available on
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Agroforestry News
The future for chestnut
Volume 18 Number 1
November 2009
Agroforestry News
(ISSN 0967-649X)
Volume 18 Number 1 November 2009
2 News: Limits to nitrogen / Milkweeds
6 Plumcots
9 Mulberries
19 The future for chestnut
23 Juneberries: Amelanchier species
34 Blue honeysuckle - Lonicera caerulea
40 Book review: Nature's Matrix
The views expressed in Agroforestry News are not necessarily those of the Editor or officials of the
Trust. Contributions are welcomed, and should be typed clearl y or sent on disk in a common format.
Many articles in Agroforestry News refer to edible and medicinal crops; such crops, if unknown to the
reader, should be tested carefull y before major use, and medicinal plants should only be administered
on the advice of a qualified practitioner; somebody, somewhere, may be fatally allergic to even tame
species, The editor, authors and publishers of Agroforestry News cannot be held responsible for any
illness caused by the use or misuse of such crops.
Editor: Martin Crawford.
Publisher: Agroforestry News is published quarterl y by the Agroforestry Research Trust.
Editorial, Advertising & Subscriptions: Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington,
Totnes, Devon, T09 6JT. UK Telephone & fax: +44 (0)1803840776
Email: mail@agroforestry.co.uk Website: www.agroforestry.co.uk
Page 1
imits to nitrogen: Tipping towards the unknown
up of 28 internationally renowned scientists have proposed that global biophysical boundaries,
on the basis of the scientific understanding of the earth system, can define a 'safe planetary
.. ;;ng space' that will allow humanity to continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.
'entists first identified the Earth System processes and potential biophysical thresholds, which, if
TI19 could generate unacceptable environmental change for humanity. They then proposed the
;ies that should be respected in order to reduce the risk of crossing these thresholds. Nine
bOundaries were identified: climate change, stratospheric ozone, land use change, freshwater use,
diversity, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere and oceans,
bla OQlllaading and chemical pollution. . ,
studY suggests that three of these boundaries (climate change, and nitrogen
!he t to the biosphere) may already have been transgressed. In addition, It emphaSizes that the
are strongly connected - crossing one boundary may seriously threaten the ability to stay
Wllhin safe levels of the others.
TMir approach was outlined in Nature in September and an abstract of their paper is as follows:
Anthropogenic pressures on the Earth System have reached a scale where abrupt global environmental
change can no longer be excluded. We propose a new approach to global sustainability in which we
define planetary boundaries within which we expect that humanity can operate safely. Transgressing
one or more planetary boundaries may be deleterious or even catastrophic due to the risk of crossing
thresholds that will trigger non-linear, abrupt environmental change within continental- to planetary-scale
We have identified nine planetary boundaries .and, drawing upon current scientific understanding, we
propose quantifications for seven of them. These seven are:

climate change (C02 concentration in the atmosphere < 350 ppm and/or a maximum change
of + 1 W m-2 in radiative forcing);
ocean acidification (mean suriace seawater saturation state with respect to aragonite! 80% of
pre-industrial levels) ;
stratospheric ozone 5 % reduction in 03 concentration from pre-industrial level of 290
Dobson Units);
biogeochemical nitrogen (N) cycle (limit industrial and agricultural fixation of N2 to 35 Tg N yr-
1) and phosphorus (P) cycle (annual P inflow to oceans not to exceed 1 times the natural
background weathering of P) ;
global freshwater use 4,000 km3 yr-l of consumptive use of runoff resources);
land system change 15 % of the ice-free land suriace under cropland);
loss of biological diversity (annual rate of < 10 extinctions per million species).
The two additional planetary boundaries for which we have not yet been able to determine a boundary
level are chemical pollution and atmospheric aerosol loading.
Page 2
We estimate that humanity has already transgressed three planetary boundaries; for c,limate change,
biodiversity loss and changes to the global nitrogen cycle. Planetary boundaries are interdependent,
because transgressing one may both shift the position of, or result in transgressing, o t h ~ r boundaries.
The social impacts of transgressing boundaries will be a function of the social-ecological resilience of
the affected societies. Our proposed boundari es are rough, first estimates only, surrounded by large
uncertainties and knowledge gaps. Filling these gaps will require major advancements in Earth System
and resilience science.
The proposed concept of 'planetary boundaries' lays the groundwork for shifting our approach to
governance and management, away from the essentially sectoral analyses of limits to growth aimed at
minimizing negative externalities, towards the estimation of the safe space for human development.
Planetary boundaries define, as it were, the boundaries of the 'planetary playing field' for humanity if we
want to be sure of avoiding major human-induced environmental change on a global scale.
Concentrating on agricultural systems, the potential limits to nitrogen use are likely to have enormous
In 1908, the German chemist Fritz Haber discovered how to make ammonia by capturing nitrogen gas
from the air. In the process he invented a cheap new source of nitrogen fertilizer, ending our
dependence on natural sources, whether biological or geological. Chemical fertilizer today feeds about
three billion people.
But the environmental consequences of the massive amounts of nitrogen sent coursing through the
planet's ecosystems are growing fast. We have learned to fear carbon and the changes it can cause to
our climate. But one day soon we may learn to fear the nitrogen fix even more.
Nitrogen affects more parts of the planet's life-support systems than almost any other element, says
James Galloway of the University of Virginia, who predicts: "In the worst-case scenario, we will move
towards a nitrogen-saturated planet, with polluted and reduced biodiversity, increased human health
risks and an even more perturbed greenhouse gas balance."
The problem is that we waste most of Haber's fertilizer. Of 80 million tons spread onto fields in fertilizer
each year, only 17 million tons gets into food. The rest goes missing, washing into ecosystems. This is
partly because the fertilizer is wastefully applied, and partly because the new green-revolution crops
developed to grow fat on nitrogen fertilizer are also wasteful of the nutrient. The nitrogen efficiency of
the world's cereals has fallen from 80 percent in 1960 to just 30 percent today.
Artificial nitrogen washes in drainage water from almost every field in the world. It is as ubiquitous in
water as man-made carbon dioxide is in the air. Most of the man-made nitrogen fertilizer ever produced
has been applied to fields in the last quarter-century. Nature has some ability to reverse man-made
fixing of nitrogen, converting it back into an inert gas - a process called denitrification. But last year,
Patrick Mulholland of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee reported that the system is being
overwhelmed. Many rivers in the U.S. are now so nitrogen-saturated that they are losing their ability to
denitrify pollution.
Most of this excess nitrogen ends up in the oceans, where it is killing whole ecosystems. Excess
nitrogen is the cause of the growing number of oxygen-depleted "dead zones" in the oceans, says
Soils recycle nitrogen in organic waste, including animal dung. But before Haber's discovery, the only
way of adding more atmospheric nitrogen to soils was through capture by the bacteria that live in a
small number of nitrogen-fixing plants, including legumes like clover and beans.
In the 19th century, densely-packed countries like Germany and Britain began to improve the fertility of
their soils by importing nitrogen in the form of guano from the P@.cific islands of Peru, and saltpetre
mined in Chile. Geological nitrogen was a geopolitical res9urce as vital as oil today.
Outside Europe, few initially took up chemical fertilizers to intensify their farming. 1t was usually cheaper
and easier to expand farming - draining marshes, ploughing prairies and clearing forests. But by the
1960s, as world population soared, fertilizer manufacture took off, and plant breeders developed new
lines of crops that responded best to the nitrogen fix. During this "green there
was an eight-fold increase in global production of nitrogen fertilizer from the 1960s to the 1980s .

Today, of 175 million tons of nitrogen applied to the world's croplands in a year, almost 50 percent is
from chemical fertilizer. It has raised the "carrying capacity" of the world's soils from 1.9 people per
hectare of farmland to 4.3 - and 10 in China, where applications reach twice anything seen in Europe.
This is a profound change to the biochemistry of life on Earth - and to our own bodies. Today, much of
the nitrogen in our bodies comes not from biological sources but from giant chemical factories. We are,
in a real sense, as much chemistry as biology. Vaciav Smil, the distinguished Canadian researcher into
food and the environment at the University of Manitoba, calls the nitrogen fix "an immense and
dangerous experiment."
Besides fertilizer, we are also making biologically available nitrogen by burning fossil fuels. Nitrogen
oxides in the air are also potent greenhouse gases, adding to global warming, and even reach the
stratosphere, where they join chlorine and bromine compounds in eating up the protective ozone layer.
The prognosis is not good. The scientists who wrote the Nature paper on planetary boundaries argued
that human nitrogen releases to the natural environment should be cut by three quarters, to around 35
million tons. But on current trends, global nitrogen use on farmland is set to double to 220 million tons a
year by 2050 - more than six times the safe threshold.
The danger is that nature's ability to process this excess nitrogen and return it to the atmosphere will be
overwhelmed. and we will end up inhabiting a nitrogen-saturated planet, with nitrogen driving global
warming. '
What can be done? To meet the target cited in the Nature study requires a transformation of the world's
agriculture as profound as the transformation of energy industries needed to meet targets for cutting
greenhouse gases. There is an urgent need f.or developing farming systems that manage nitrogen far
belter .. This must include much less use of chemical fertilisers, using organic systems and naturally-
fixed mtrogen instead - but even these sources must be used carefully and not wasted.
says the .flow of. nitrogen through the environment can also be reduced by decreased
emiSSions from burning fossil fuels - perhaps as a by-product of efforts against climate change And
belter sewage in cities could convert nitrates thaI have passed through the human gu'l into
sale gaseous nitrogen.
If anything h.umanity's growing the p.lanet's life-support systems, it is the way we
are the nitrogen cycle. As Smll put It "In Just one lifetime, humanity has developed a
profound chemical dependence."
httpJlwww.stockholmresilience .org/research/researchnews/tippingtowardstheunknown 5 7c19c5aa 121 e
17bab42800021543.htmi ..
Pearce, F: The Nitrogen Fix: Breaking a Costly Addiction.
httpJlwww.e360.yale.edu/contentlfeature.msp?id 2207
New uses for Milkweed
Milkweed is cultivated commercially in the USA for the floss from the seed pods, which is' used as a
hypoallergenic filler in high-end pillow? and jacket linings. In studies at ARS's New Crops and
Processing Technology Research Unit in Peoria, Illinois, chemist Rogers E. Harry-O'kuru is
experimenting with new, value-added uses derived from unsaturated oil in the seed of common
milkweed, Asclepias syriaca.
Harry-O'kuru's analysis of the waxes and different fatty acids in the oil shows it has potential use as a
base material in sunscreen, cosmetics, and skin- and hair-care products, including moisturizers and
Many of teday's sunscreens use chemical filters or blocks to protect skin from two types of ultraviolet
radiation, UV-A and UV-B, at wavelengths of 290 to 400 nanometres (nm). The effects of UV-B
exposure are usually temporary-an example being the sunburn a careless beachgoer must endure for
a few days. Repeated or prolonged exposure to UV-A radiation-such as that experienced by
lifeguards or road crews-can cause premature aging and skin cancer. The filters and blocks work by
absorbing or scattering such radiation before it penetrates and damages skin.
Recently, interest has grown in sunscreen and cosmetic products that not only protect skin, but nourish
it. Harry-O'kuru's milkweed-oil-based sunscreen aims to fill the bill on both counts. It contains natural
antioxidants, such as tocopherols, and cinnamic acid derivatives like ferulic acid, which occurs naturally
in many plants and is highly absorbent of UV rays.
A key step in the process, is using zinc chloride to catalyze the conversion of milkweed oil 's triglycerides
into the UV-absorbing cinnamic acid derivatives.
In laboratory tests, the derivatives strongly absorbed UV rays in the range of 260 to 360 nm,
wavelengths that can damage skin. The milkweed-oil product accomplished this at very low
concentrations (1 to 5 percent by weight)-a range far below that approved for today's topical skin
formulations, says Harry-O'kuru.
Hany-O'kuru says his current sunscreen compounds are clear liquids, but gels, creams, sticks, and
aerosol sprays are also possible. The sunscreen's unique combination of fats and waxes may qualify it
as biodegradable and may keep it from washing off during a swim.
Besides skin- and hair-care products, the UV-absorbent formulation could also be tailored for use in
epoxies, paints, or other industrial applications.
Reference: Milkweed: From Floss to Fun in the Sun. Agricultural Research magazine, Feb 2009.
Biochar update
Some really interesting papers and presentations from the North American Biochar Conference 2009
are available at http://cees.colorado.edu/northamericanbiochar.html
Page 5
Hybrids between plums (Prunus cerasifera and P.salicina) and apricots (P.armeniaca) are
referred to as plumcots.
Natura, plumcots have a long history in regions of the world where both apricots and myrobalan
or cherry plums (Prunus cerasifera) are traditionally grown, such as southwest Asia. Most of
these plumcots have red or purple fruit with light fuzz, although some are smooth and glabrous.
The fruits tend to be small and acidic. They were first described by Europeans in 1755, being
called the 'violet apricot'. These plumeots were common enough to be assigned their own
species name, P. X dasycarpa in 1791. Red skinned cultivars 'Grossa Precoce' and ' Pruna
Cresammola' are still grown in Italy, whilst several cultivars made it to the USA, including ' Irani
Olju', 'Tl or Csiran', 'Mesch Mesch Amrah' and ' Mirocais' .
From China, the natural hybrids ' Rikyo' ('Sumumo Anzu'), ' Rikoukyo' ('Li Guangxing') and
'Jinkyo' ('Nianzu') were introduced into Japan over a century ago. The first two have pubescent
plum-like fruit , the third is more apricot-like but with white flowers like a plum. 'Jin Huanghou' is
another natural hybrid from Northern China, whilst ' Long Yuan Huang Xing' is an intentional
hybrid from the same region.
In Japan, 'Sumomoume' is a natural hybrid of plum and Japanese apricot (P.mume), with
attractive red pubescent skin and large fruit size, but it only grown by amateurs as it does not
crop reliably. Breeders ate the Tsukuba Fruit Tree Research Station developed several plum-
mume hybrids but these are little grown due to low productivity and proneness of fruit cracking.
Another hybrid, P. X blireiana was found in 1895 as an apparent hybrid of the purple leaf plum,
Prunus cerasifera with a form of P.mume. This is still grown commercially as an
ornamental for its red leaves and double pink flowers. Fruits are rare and very acidi c.
Luther Burbank introduced several plumcots in the early 1900's but mainly as novelties, few
being very good fruiting trees. ' Rutland', 'Stanford', Red Bud' and ' Poe Royal Cotplum' are true
Burbank hybrids, but some of his cultivars have been found in fact to be true plum or true
apricot. Burbank may also have been the originator of the term 'plumcot'.
Apricots and Asian plums are not closely related, their native ranges do not overlap, though
they do have the same chromosome number. After hand pollination to make a cross, only 2-3%
of crosses set seed, and of these seeds over 95% die during germination or at the seedling
Recent US work
Breeders at Rutgers University in New Jersey found that plumcots were easy to produce if one
Use ' Methley' plum rather than an apricot as the female parent. Fl esh colour ranged from white
to yellow to red, while skin colour ranged from red to yellow. They produced little pollen and
cropped poorly.
In the last 25 years, private breeders in California (mainly Zaiger) have released and patented
many plumcot cultivars. Most of the initial wave of plumcots were not very productive, although
some had excellent eating quality.
Page 6
Recent patented plumcot and related hybrid cultlvars
Plum parfait
Red Velvet
Flavor Deliaht
Flavor Queen
Royal Velvet
Flavor King
I i
Dapple Dandy
aney Rich
eo Pride
avor Heart
avor Ann
avor Gem
Flavor Gold
)apple .ire-
Tasty Ri ch
Flavor Treat
Black Kat
Flavor Jewel
loval treat
'uba Gold
Early Dapple
Sierra Rose
Spring Flavor
Marcia's Flavor
lavar Wynne
'Iavor Finale
Flavor Rauae
Amigo II
Candy Stripe
* peach x plum
** nectarine x plum
1978 Laiger
1989 Zaiger
1989 Bradford

1992 Zaiger
1995 ger
1998 ger
1999 Zaiger
1999 Zaiger
2000 Korea
2000 Laiger
2001 Zaiger
2001 Zaiger
200 Zaiaer
2002 Zaiger
2002 Zaiger
2002 Zaiger
21 -;c.:c-_---/-'Z"-""aig':':-er_..,
21 Zaiaer
2( Zaiger
2C Zaiger
2003 Zaiger
2003 Zaiger
2003 Zaiger

2004 Z iger
Z iger
After backcrossing and intercrossing these plumcots, it has become difficult to distinguish
hybrids from plums. In 1991, Zaiger Genetics trademarked the terms 'pluot' and ' aprium' ,
presumably to label their hybrids that resembled the plum parent or the cot parent respectively.
In California, the term ' interspecific'; is now sometimes used to describe these plumeot
derivatives (although this overl ooks the fact that most Japanese plums are already just that.) A
recent DNA study of 6 pluots, a pl umcot, 14 plums and 7. apricots indicates that some of the
hybrids might be descended from plums only!
The Zaiger fami ly have been working for about 50 years to hybridise apples, almonds, peaches,
nectarines, plums and roots,ocks. Among the many techniques used is the practice of growing
the breeding stock in containers so t hat the parent trees can be kept in cold storage. Lath
houses or greenhouses - this allows the flowering times of the parents to be delayed or
speeded up and enables crossing of parents that would ordinarily be impossible. Crosses can
be made in spring regardless of the weather outside. Test-tube embryo culture is used to grow
seedl ings for immature seeds and heat treatments used to eliminate viruses. Each year 50,000
seedl ings are grown from which several hundred are selected for evaluation. Many of the
recent genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines are Zaiger introductions. Zaiger's pluots and
apriums have fruit of generall y better quality than the earlier plumcots.
USDA Stone fruit breeding
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stone fruit breeding i n Georgia began in
1937. Plum breeding began in earnest and has led to several cultivar releases over the years.
Apricot breeding work has also taken place but with less success.
A new plumcot , named ' Spring Satin', originated as an open pollinated seedl ing of a high quality
plum ('8Y8111 ') being eval uated. '8y8111' is a cross of ('Queen Ann' x 'Santa Rosa') x
' Frontier'.
' Spring Satin' flowers with ' Methley' plum and with peaches having a chilling requirement of
about 750 hours below 5C. Its flowers are whit e like plums and they shed moderate quantities
of pollen. 'Spri ng Satin' shoul d be planted adjacent to other plums or cherry plums flowering at
the same time to facilitate insect pollination.
The fruits ripen before those of 'Santa Rosa' plums. The fruits are flattish-round; the skin colour
is reddish-black, with very short fuzz. The flesh is yell ow or yellow-orange, darkeni ng to
orange-red as the fruit matures. The flesh is firm with very good flavour when it softens (firm
ripe fruit tends to be quite tart). Scm (2") diameter fruits are achievable, usually after fruit
thinning. The medium-sized pit is clingstone.
Trees of 'Spring Satin' appear compatible with common peach rootstocks, making a moderately
vigorous tree with upright growth. There seems to be moderate resistance to bacterial canker.
' Spring Satin' is the first recent unpatented plumcot that can be freely propagated and is being
used extensively as a parent to develop additional plumcot cultivars.
Clark, J R & Finn, C F: Register of New Fruit and Nut Cultivars, Ust 43. HortScience Vol 41 (5)
August 2006.
Clark, J R & Finn, C F: Register of New Fruit and Nut Cult ivars, Ust 44. HortScience Vol 43(5)
August 2008.
Kennedy, C T: About Plumcots and Poll ination. Fruit Gardener, Vol 26 No 6 (1994).
Okie, W R: 'Spring Satin' Plumcot. Journal of the American Pomological Society 59(3): 119-
124 2005.
Sanders, G: Zaiger Genetics. Fruit Gardener, Vol 27 No 3 (1995).
Page 8
The mulberries ( Morus species ) are a group of temperate and subtropical trees and shrubs,
best known for their sweet edible fruit. They have many other uses, though, including silkworm
fodder , sources of rubber and fibres, medicinal uses, and the valuable timber.
They are generally small, irregular, bushy-headed trees, often with leaning trunks, with a rough
scaly pink-brown bark.
Leaves are alternate, heart-shaped or lobed, with toothed edges, pOinted tips and rough
The flowers are green catkins, wind pollinated; male and female flowers are found on the same
tree. Mulberries are monoacious and self-fertile.
The fruits, like raspberries, are built up of many fruitlets, each pulpy and holding one seed.
They have a sharp acid taste until fully ripe, when they become sweet and delicious.
Black mulberries (Source: Wikimedia)
Mulberries are usually disease-free and thrive in any reasonably good, well -drained soil.
Cultivars are self-fertile.
All species need full sun in cooler climates but tolerate partial shade in hot sunny climes.
Russian mulberry (M.alba tatarica) is sometimes used in 'edible windbreaks' , the bl ossoms not
being damaged by high winds. However many other mulberries have brittle branches and
branqh breakages in exposed sites are common.
Mulberries prefer moist soil but are drought tolerant once established. They do not need
fert ilising. The only pest we have ever had trouble with is snails, which graze on the bark of
your trees and can kill them if they ring bark the tree.
Mulberries come into leaf late in the spring, are tolerant of ground cover competition and grow
well with grass beneath; this makes them a highly promising agroforestry crop in systems where
they form the higher storey.
Named varieties of mulberry start fruiting at a young age, often the first year they are planted.
Most varieties ripen their crop over a long period of 6 weeks or more, making this an ideal home
garden tree (also also one reason why mulberries are rarely grown commercially). Illinois
Everbearing ripens it s fruit s from mid August to mid October for us in Devon.
Harvesting mulberries is best undertaken by putting a sheet or tarp on the ground and lightly
shaking the branches. All the ripe fruits will readily fall and can be easily sorted. Mulberries do
not store well and should be eaten or processed within 24 hours. Dark mulberry fruits will stain
fingers and clothing.
Birds are sometimes a problem taking the fruits, although on many varieties the fruits are well
hidden underneath leaves. If birds are a problem then using plastic owls or snakes is quite
effective. Birds will also rarely go for white fruits so you can choose a white fruited variety from
the outset if you know birds are likely to be troublesome.
Propagation can be either by seed (requiring 16 weeks of stratification), hardwood cuttings in
winter, grafting/budding, layering or air layering. In addition, some species can be propagated
from softwood cuttings in summer. The use of mycorrhizal fungi spores as a cuttings dip is
reported to increase the success rate.
For orchard cultivation and systems usi ng understorey crops , young trees should be planted at
8-10 m (25-30 ft) apart. Planting in the spring is preferable. Some formative pruning may be
desirable in the first few years to establish a strong framework of 4-5 branches; otherwise only
prune to remove crossing or dead branches. Pruning should be undertaken in winter to avoid
excess bleeding of sap.
For windbreaks, plant at 2.5-7 m (8-20 ft) apart. Mulberries stand clipping well if plants need it.
White mulberries (Morus alba) and its hybrids are sometimes cultivated as a vegetable crop. In
this case the trees are planted densely in rows and coppiced annually at a height of 60-90cm.
The fresh leaves are then picked by hand throughout the growing season.
Many cultivars have been bred of the varieties Malba, M.nigra and M.rubra, and hybrids
between these. A table of cultivars appears later in this article.
Page 10
The fruit of most species is sweet and edible raw or cooked; it can be made into wine, used as a
food colouring, and used medici nally as it is slightly laxative and contains many vitamins and
minerals. The fruits dry easily in a,.. dehydrator (or solar drier in a sunny climate).
Mulberry fruits turn red, white or purplish-black when they ripen, and on average contain 12%
sugars (mai nly glucose) , through in some varieties in can exceed 20"/". They are also rich in
carotene, vitamins 81, 82 and C.
Mulberry fruits are eaten fresh, made into jam or mulberry wine. Mulberry fruit juice is made
commercially on a large scale in China where it is very popular; it keeps . fresh without
preservat ives for several months. The fruits have recently been found to possess anti-oxidant
Birds are highl y att racted to the fruit and wi ll start eating it before it is fully ripe; because of this,
mulberries are sometimes used as sacri ficial crops (for example, by cherry growers).
Fruits are also suitable for poultry and pig fodder; as they fall when ripe, animals beneath have
access to them.
The cooked leaves of several species, notably white mulberry and its hybrids, can be eaten as a
vegetable - very palatable. The fresh leaves can be picked throughout the growing season and
are steamed for a few minutes or can be placed in layers in pies, lasagnas etc. Baled or fri ed
dried mulberry leaf powder is rich in protein and carbohydrate, and has a distinct fragrant smell.
lt is used in China as a food addi tive for making buns, bread, cakes and biscuit s.
The stems and stem powder are a good media for mushroom production. In China, the edible
Jew' s ear (Auricularia auricula judae) and the medicinal fungus Ganoderma lucidum are
produced on mulberry logs or powder.
Mulberr ies have been used medicinally in the region since ancient times. The root bark in
particular has been used as a herbal medicine to reduce high blood pressure. Mulberry leaves
are rich in gamma-aminobutylic acid, effective against high blood pressure, and in alanine,
effective against hangovers. The leaves also contain compounds which can lower the blood
sugar level and thus they are now an important health food, taken as mulberry leaf tea, for
All parts of the plants contai n a milky sap which coagulates into a type of rubber - a possible
temperate rubber crop.
Several species have fibrous bast fibres beneath the bark which can be made into rope and
paper. Mulberry branches are also used in Chi na as raw material for paper product ion.
The timber is generall y deep yellow, and is hard, strong, durable, flexible and coarse-grained; it
is valued for carving, inlays in cabinet work and musical instruments.
For sil k production from the leaves see below. The litter of silkworm faeces and wasted leaf is
also u