Thursday, 6 September 2007

Weed or Wonder Plant?

Tagasaste: Chamaecytisus palmensis
formally Cytisus proliferus

Common Names: Tree Lucerne, Canary Island Tree Lucerne
Origin: Canary Islands - grows on dry volcanic slopes
Rainfall: Range is 350mm to 1600mm
Climate: Survives frosts to -9C. Best in temperate areas.
Cultural:
  • Nitrogen fixing legume
  • Grows 6m plus
  • Lives to 30 years
  • Prefers well drained soils - Does not like wet feet*
  • pH range 5-7
  • Prune regularly
  • Scarify seed (soak overnight in boiled water)
Being a legume the seed is best inoculated, I do this by digging up some dirt from the rootzone of a healthily growing tree, adding this to rainwater and either soaking the seed in this solution (after the initial boiling water soak) or just watering it in around transplanted seedlings.

A well known permaculture plant that has many uses:
  • Fodder - eaten by all grazing animals, pigs and poultry (especially seeds)
  • Bee Forage - prolifically flowers late winter.
  • Timber
  • Mulch Tree - prunings can be shredded for compost or clipped and left as a rough feeding mulch.
  • Windbreak
  • Fire Retardant
  • Nurse plant - used first and in between orchard plantings to shelter fruit trees.



The weed problem occurs in the wetter areas of Australia or along creek beds in dryer regions. In my garden the seedlings that pop up in the chook runs are devoured by the chooks and any that come up in the vegetables garden (where I apply water) I dig up as transplants.

More information:
Tagasaste - Tree Lucerne - High Production Fodder Crop - Laurence C. Snook.
Introduction to Permaculture - Bill Mollison with Reny Mia Slay.
*My Life With Tagasaste - B Hedge Acres Australia '89.

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