permed at permed at
Thu Nov 2 18:34:15 EST 2000

This is a warning...
Dolichos Lab Lab, Siratro and Silver-leafed Desmodium are running 
perennial tropical legumes that many PC'ers have tried out here in the 
sub-tropics as  ground cover for establishing food forests. Most wish 
they had never planted it/them as all are incredibly vigorous vines and 
unless managed almost daily with a machete will soon smother and choke 
young trees to 3-4 meters high. They self-sow readily from seed and can 
be very difficult to eradicate once established. 
I've seen properties with dense sirrato/siratro vine 1 meter deep over 
several acres which has choked out everything else. It can't be slashed, 
mown or brushcut as the strong wiry stems dont cut but wrap around the 
blades and choke the machines. 

These three legumes are usually grown as cattle forage and maybe in open 
pasture with heavy grazing they can be kept under control.

I usually recommend cow pea which being an annual doesn't get out of 

The white flowering lab lab we call "Poor Man's Bean", the young tender 
pods taste a little like broadbean and are fine in stir fries - grow 1 or 
2 vines on a trellis in zone 1 and keep an eye on it!

For cold climates how about Tree lucerne/ Tagasaste? - prefers well 
drained soil, not too acid. I'm not sure what it's minimum temperature 
tolerance is but it grows well in drier inland and highland areas in 
Australia with heavy frosts and light snowfall.

Robyn F

Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre
home to: 
Permaculture Education
ERDA Institute Trust
Nimbin Eco-Village Project Office
Robyn Francis - permaculture designer & educator
PO Box 379, Nimbin NSW 2480 Australia
permed at

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