Shade Tolerant Edibles

JaimeeG(5b)July 17, 2012

I have a patch of yard that is almost entirely in tree shade all day. The ground can't even support grass. My first thought was to simply cover the bare area with mulch or rocks to prevent the mud bath that rain creates. But then I wondered if I could build a raised bed around the tree and plant shade tolerant edible plants in it. I would definitely prefer to do this so that I'm actually making use of the space instead of just covering it up, but after searching around on the internet I'm seeing that most plants require at least a few hours of sun a day. This area doesn't ever get direct sunlight. At best there may be an hour or two of dappled sunlight, but I'm not even positive of that. The tree's branches are fairly high off the ground- maybe 8 feet- so it's not like it's a dark shade.

Any ideas of edible plants that would survive there? Thanks!

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Bradybb WA-Zone8

What kind of tree?
The first thing that comes to mind is Evergreen Huckleberry,but even they like a little sun for fruiting,while they will grow bigger in the shade. Brady

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:50AM
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I'm not sure what kind if tree it is... some sort of ornamental that sheds hard, little, round, brown seed casings. Huckleberry would be awesome!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Mint will grow in the shade, but it's invasive, so container it! Makes wonderful tea!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:18AM
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I recently found out that it's a Callery Pear (possibly a Bradford Pear)... non edible.

Yes, mint would be good. I have some of that I could transplant in it's container.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:59PM
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I believe ramps, a wild onion that are prized as a gourmet delight, as shade tolerant. There is a company in Kalamazoo michigan that sells a bunch of edible native plants that are less common and I remember quite a few were shade plants. Try googling for them, as I don't have their name off hand.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I think Oikos Tree Crops is the company that emcd124 posted about. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Oikos Tree Crops

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:22AM
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I grow strawberries as a groundcover in the shade. Although the plants don't produce as many strawberries as they might in part sun or full sun, they still produce.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:58PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

With most trees, if you put a raised bed (with all that nice, rich soil in it) above the roots, those roots will fill that raised bed in two or three years.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Ramps will only cover the ground during the spring. They are not for the faint of heart either. All the potency of garlic and onions put together and then some. Unless you crock pot them, people will smell you for days. I must admit, the taste is worth it though.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 2:55PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

How about this one? I have no clue. Found it searching for something else, but it has my attention!
2121 Oregon GrapeMahonia aquifolium
This is a very beautiful, edible, and useful evergreen shrub. Its upright stems and coarse leaves form an irregular mound up to 8' tall. As the bush matures, it sends out additional stems to form a clump up to 6' wide. The bluish green leaves are coarse and spiny and resemble holly. The compound leaves are radially arranged at the end of each stem. Bright yellow flowers appear atop the stem in spring.
Location: Oregon grape holly is native from the northwestern United States on into Canada. It is widely grown as an ornamental.
Culture: Light: Needs shady conditions, hot direct sun will burn leaves. Moisture: Likes moist soil high in organic material, but adaptable. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9. Propagation: Clumps can be divided.
Usage: This plant thrives in shady areas where selection of plants is limited. Can be used in entry ways and under roof eaves if adequate moisture is maintained. I like to use mahonias under a canopy of pine along with azaleas and camellias. Can also be used as an outdoor container plant.
Features: The bright yellow flowers are beautiful against the lustrous blue green leaves. The bright blue berries on dark red stems are even more striking.

Here is a link that might be useful: Site to buy seeds for this one!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 9:01PM
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bunch berry for deep shade Mahonia aquifolium is good too for fruit. all leafy greens will grow in part sun 4hrs or more but do better with more sun.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 11:55PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Oregon Grape grows wild all over Western Washington.It's very tart and seedy.The birds don't even like it too much.I suppose it could be made into preserves. Brady

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 2:22AM
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Has no one mentioned Hosta? the early shoots (H. Montana especially) are very yummy sauteed or steamed with garlic!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 7:56AM
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In my shady areas I have planted strawberries (does OK but not great) and Hucklberry (planting 4 this year, so I don't know how well the will do).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 8:19AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

caucasian spinach is a perennial vine grows below trees, edible leaves. I'm looking for some seeds myself!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 3:56PM
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Brad Edwards

Don't expect high yields but I am surprised nobody has mentioned Blackberry or Raspberries. Especially thornless varieties. You might also do well if you do raised beds and use pea gravel in between, or use a reflective white material for the surface to reflect light. You could also use the heavy gauge aluminum foil from Sams club around the base of areas or sheet aluminum to reflect light, just make some crimps like in Metal halide lighting.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 7:07PM
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What I currently have in shade:

Thornless blackberry
Nasturtium (edible flower that does well in shade)
Most herbs but not basil
Mustard greens
Most leafy greens do well in shade

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:35PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Lettuces will do well in relatively low light.
Miners Lettuce is a champ.
Shiso is a tasty herb that likes some shade.
Wood Sorrel and Chickweed are edible weeds that do well in shade.
And don't forget mushrooms!
Or compost.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 4:33AM
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Greens! Mustards & Collards...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 11:40AM
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