Perennial protein plants

Hi, guys! The other day, I was watching this gardening YouTube video where someone went on about how perennial protein crops are really important, and listed a whole bunch of tree nut species as “must haves.”

Have I mentioned I’m allergic to tree nuts?

I’m totally fine with legumes, so beans / peas / peanuts / etc. are good protein sources for me. But those are all annuals. That got me wondering, “Are there any perennial protein crops I could grow and eat?”

What do you think?

I didn’t know there is a “whole bunch” of nut trees, unless maybe you include those that grow in varied climates all over the world. There are five or six, tops, that grow well in my climate and only two that consistently produce well. There are lots of YouTube garden advisors, but only a few I’ve seen that seem to know anything about gardening.

I can’t really think of any perennial protein crops except maybe those ground nuts, I don’t remember their actual name and I have never grown them myself. Oh, I just thought, there is a perennial bean that is supposed to be high in protein. I grow them but just for fun mostly, I don’t know how edible they really are. The beans are tiny and the pods shatter easily so it’s very hard to collect them in any useable quantity.

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Siberian pea shrub
Jerusalem Artichokes

and don’t forget good 'ole asparagus


Wait, Jerusalem artichokes have a high protein content? AWESOME! I’ve been wanting to grow lots of them as a winter staple crop, anyway. My body likes inulin, and sunflowers seem to grow really well here. (We have native wild ones everywhere.)


You could grow mesquite for the pods. I think it’s native to your area.

Northern-adapted pigeon pea as a short-lived perennial.

Sword bean, jack bean.

I heard about mesquite through the carbon farming solution. They have quite a few perennial crops in there, including protein crops.

If you can overwinter them
Vigna vexillata (zombi pea)
Runner beans

I’ve eaten plenty of redbud pods (another legume family tree) but I’m not really sure how much protein they have. They are much more pod than seed.

Hopniss is like a higher protein potato that also makes edible bean seeds. I’m surprised it’s not a bigger deal in permaculture circles (or maybe it is and I just don’t know).

Given how edible the mallows are, I’d be surprised if there isn’t a perennial crop grown for its protein-rich seeds. I’ve definitely eaten Rose of Sharon pods/seeds, though the pods are a little tough and a little small.

Basil has high protein content in the seeds, though like chia will have to overwinter and might be more fiddly than desired.

Finally if you want to get really bold and crazy and make your neighbors hate you, perennial ragweed. Seems ragweed may have been the crop maize replaced. Doesn’t taste great but supposedly very nutritious and protein rich. Come on, neighbors. Make a ragweed tincture and see your allergies improve like never before

More seriously, I found the carbon farming solution to be a good resource and I think Lowell grows a number of perennial legumes.

Those are a lot of very interesting species to look into. Thank you!

I didn’t realize Rose of Sharon pods and seeds are edible. I knew the flowers were. That’s very cool. I have a neighbor with a load of Rose of Sharon bushes, so I know they can grow well here.

Ha ha ha, I think I’ll avoid the ragweed, as everyone in my family (except for me) seems to have severe pollen allergies. Although, do ragweed tinctures help with hay fever? If so, maybe I would want to grow a little for that purpose. Local raw honey has been the best resource I’ve found for my husband and children. Having more than one remedy that works might be nice, especially if they can stack.

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Sure! :slightly_smiling_face: Let us know how you go

To the best of my fallible understanding every part of Rose of Sharon is edible. Down to the bark which I have chewed and found quite pleasant tasting - - not that I’m advocating we eat sticks, which seems like it could pose some health hazards. The family has a high degree of edibility and the seeds are often protein rich.

The seeds of desert globemallow, a relative I think native to your ecosystem, seem to have been widely consumed by indigenous peoples of the area.

On the allergy remedies front, my wife and I have had good success with goldenrod tincture she’s made. We haven’t tried ragweed yet, but some people swear by it. Pending more conclusive evidence, I tend towards thinking it is probably effective for many people.

Ragweed is sometimes deployed in phytoremediation contexts - - meaning it’s good at taking up pollutants from soil - - so that’s another consideration if you’re going to process it for consumption. Honestly, it’s such a vigorous and versatile plant - - I think many more people would grow it if it weren’t problematic for other reasons.

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When I hear perennial protein I just think eggs and meat :joy:.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Chia