Caragana (caragana aborescens)

LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin
edited April 2022 in Growing Medicinals

I remember baking mud pies and adding "bananas" from these very prickly bushes to my creations when I was young. I have many fond early childhood memories of using these in my prickly kitchen fort.

The Canadian Prairies have lots of these shrubs (hardy zones 2-7) that have overrun old homestead properties, if the yardsites haven’t now been destroyed. Considering that is can grow in almost any soil & can withstand drought, and be a fantastic windbreak, it was a must have shrub.

I knew I never wanted to plant these, because they can become quite invasive and are very difficult to remove. Digging deep and repeatedly to remove missed roots is about the only way that I know that's effective.

What I didn't know is that they are edible & medicinal. I always knew the blooms were pea-like. Now I know they taste like peas! Chickens love eating green seeds...that's great, but the shrubs still grow prolifically by root. Some part of caragana can be used to treat cancer. That is fascinating.

I could harvest the leaves too for in the garden!

If I wished, I'd have no issue harvesting as much as I wanted from anywhere I had permission to harvest. These things "grow like weeds" and are quite often despised.

@torey Can you tell me more about the caragana? I would like to learn more! (But, I still won't plant it!)


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    Well, this is a new one for me @LaurieLovesLearning. I have a weeping caragana in my yard. Or at least, it was weeping. The main rootstock seems to have taken over and it has become a regular caragana with a couple of weeping stems. I planted it in a very rough spot in my yard. All rocks and gravel. It has survived and become larger but it hasn't spread.

    I didn't know anything about it edibility or medicinal properties. On a search, I have found that it is mostly used in TCM but also has ethnobotanical uses from eastern Europe. Caragana properties are: emmenagogue, hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory. It seems to have an affinity as a woman's plant as it is used for dysmenorrhea, menoxia, uterine & breast cancers but is also used for chronic fatigue, headaches, asthma & coughs, nosebleeds, etc. Early research indicates it might be useful for treating HIV. In TCM it is said to "nourish yin, invigorate the spleen, temper the blood and promote blood flow".

    Its not a well researched herb. But I think it is certainly one that deserves further investigation.

    I will try eating some later this year. Seems to be best cooked for the more mature pods and seeds and in limited quantities when young and raw. Maybe this is another possibility for a seed oil as it is 12-14% oil.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @torey Certainly keep me updated.

    I've been around this plant my whole life & often tried to discourage people from buying it when I worked at the nursery. Lol

    Being a good salesperson, I'd tell them the pros & cons & would recommend something that was less demanding/invasive, unless they insisted upon the caragana. Then at least, they were informed!