Tag Archives: Permaculture Magazine

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.

The Many Uses of Udo

For the first time freely available is my article in Permaculture Magazine  about my largest and most exciting vegetable Udo (Aralia cordata)! See the link near the bottom of the page and please subscribe here, they do a great job, but need our support! Go to  https://www.permaculture.co.uk/subscribe…………….

To witness the underground cultivation of Udo in large caverns under Tokyo (mentioned in the article) was one of the reasons for embarking on a study tour of Japan with Naturplanteskolen in Denmark in Spring 2016, and during the visit we discovered that you can have one more layer in a forest garden……..

The Permaculture Magazine article: is an excerpt from my book Around the World in 80 plants (to buy the book please follow this link:   http://www.green-shopping.co.uk/books/pp/around-the-world-in-80-plants.html

Download (PDF, 216KB)

Here’s a FB album by Naturplanteskolen of the underground Udo tour!

Thanks to Tei Kobayashi who acted as interpreter and liasing with the local authorities, to Ken Minatoya in the Netherlands who also initially called the city clerks for me and Joan Bailey for helping out, accompanying us on the visit and also for writing a local article, see here http://metropolisjapan.com/more-than-cherry-blossoms

I will write more about this visit as well as my other encounters with Udo in Japan as soon as I can!!