Category Archives: Climbers

Hablitzia forest garden

A little video of my Habitzia jungle today…
I usually train the plants up into the trees , but I’ve let them do their own thing this year. One plant has climbed up a hogweed (bjørnekjeks) and then on up high into the birch tree, others have just clambered around on the ground…

Dividing 1-year old Hablitzia plants

Hablitzia roots have an astonishing number of shoots waiting to grow if you cut them down…I like to think that this is an adaptation to human grazing pressure, so that we can repeatedly harvest without killing the plants ;)
Root cuttings work to quickly multiply plants , just ensure you use a sharp knife and have at least one shoot on each root slice! See the pictures!

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Prestigious prize to Ronny Staquet for his work with Hablitzia!

Congratulations to my friend Ronny Staquet​ who recently won a prestigious prize for his efforts in popularising Hablitzia​ at the Fête des Plantes de Printemps at Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard just outside of Paris! See http://www.wallogreen.com/blog/?p=231
Ronny Chateau

 

 

 

 

 

See also https://www.facebook.com/ChateauSJB/posts/1306538149412145 and http://www.domsaintjeanbeauregard.com/les-rendez-vous/fete-des-plantes-de-printemps

I’m proud too as this plant originated in Malvik. Ronny has over the years obtained most of my accessions (some 7 different) in return for help with this web site!!  Rumour has it that Ronny has selected a golden leaved Hablitzia from this material!! :) Looking forward to that!

My first wild Hablitzia accession

10 years ago in July 2006, I received an email seed request  from a Sergey Banketov in the Caucasus. I don’t usually trade seed in summer, but he had such an interesting list of wild collected species from the Caucasus that I made an exception and we traded seeds. At the time I was writing my article on Hablitzia tamnoides for Permaculture Magazine and on the offchance I asked “Do you know the plant Hablitzia tamnoides? It was introduced to Sweden in about 1870 as an ornamental plant and later it was realised that it was also a very good edible plant (used in the springtime as spinach) . It is still grown in some gardens in Scandinavia for food. However, I can find no reference to its use as a food plant in its home range (the Caucasus). Do you have any information about its use? I am also interested in seed from wild populations and photographs of the plant in the wild as I am writing an article about it.”

Sergey, a botanist, lived in the city of Pyatigorsk in the Stavropol region of Russia (Northern Caucasus) and he quickly replied:

 “I know a plant of Hablitzia tamnoides. This plant grows with us in the vicinity of the city. And like for the first time it is described from mountain Mashuk. I shall collect seeds and I shall try to photograph her. Unfortunately the information on it is very poor. I hear the first time that she is edible. With us we do not use even for decorative purposes. I shall try to learn about it at work (Botanical institute) and in the pharmaceutical academy.”

Just 4 days later he sent me these 4 pictures of the plant growing on northern slope at the bottom of the mountain Mashuk (see the images for the location). Further he told me that nobody knows the plant apart from botanists!

In January 2007, Sergey sent me his new seed list which now included Hablitzia! In February, I received a good amount of wild seed, collected from 3-4 plants at the bottom of Mt. Mashuk (my own single plant produced almost no seed) and in the Permaculture Magazine article an offer of seed was given, the source being Sergey.

Nutritional analysis of Hablitzia

My article “Caucasian spinach: the unknown woodlander” was published by Permaculture Magazine 9 years ago in 2007 (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1984 and also my book Around the World in 80 plants). In the meantime this vegetable has become a popular perennial vegetable and forest garden plant grown by thousands around the world, and is perhaps the first new vegetable to become popular thanks to social media and the permaculture movement! At last the results of a project to analyse the nutrient content of this plant have been announced on our Friends of Hablitzia FB group by Leena Nurmi who carried out the work for her masters thesis in Finland! And the news is very good, confirming that Hablitzia (Caucasian Spinach) is not only a fantastic productive perennial vegetable but also is superior to spinach and New Zealand spinach nutritionally and for those who worry about oxalic acid and nitrates, both are within accepted limits!!
Time for a celebration

She writes: “Hello Stephen and other Hablitzia friends! Greetings from Finland. I have done my master’s thesis about Hablitzia “Hablitzia tamnoides – a new but old leafy vegetable of early summer: cold stratification of seeds and nutritional value of leaves”. Now I am writing a scientific article about the nutritional value of Hablitzia. Caucasian spinach contains particularly plenty of carotenoids, folates, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Also many other nutritions were larger in Hablitzia than in spinach and New Zealand spianch. In my study the oxalic acid, nitrate, cadmium and lead contents did not outweigh the permissible threshold values. The seeds of Hablitzia need to be stratified either in a cold room or outside during winter in order to germinate. The highest germination rate was 52 %, recorded from the Tampere population stratified at +5 ºC in a cold room. The seeds of Tampere population were picked up in February and sown for stratification in the middle of March. In Finland Hablitzia grows even in Oulu, but wetness of soil kills the plant very easily.”

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