Monday, June 1, 2009

Siberian Peashrub by Dusty M

Siberian Peashrub (Caragana arborescens) is a tough utility shrub, useful for hedge, screen or windbreak. As its name implies, it survives harsh cold weather and heavy dry soils. Yellow flowers in May yield short, narrow seed pods that make a popping sound when they dry and open later in the summer. A friend who has four Siberian Peashrubs, each about 10 feet high, in her backyard says she hears the pods popping as she sits on her back porch. Like other members of the pea family, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil.

I noticed in the other morning’s newspaper article on urban homesteading that some folks near Denver City Park are growing Siberian Peashrubs for the concentrated edible protein in the peas they produce. A “homesteader” explained that the peas could also be used as chicken feed. Not to disparage his good intentions, I trust his chicken flock is not very large. The pods are 1-1/2 to 2 inches long and the peas are very small. My shrub has grown to about 6 feet in 10 or 12 years. Were I to try to collect all the peas before the pods opened on their own, I can’t imagine having even a cupful. I would humbly suggest the growing space and other resources be devoted to higher-yielding crops.

See “Deciduous Shrubs” at for a listing of shrubs, including the above, recommended for our area.