Foraging

The purpose of this guide is to provide information for our ongoing Permaculture Site on the north end of the garden, towards Cullerton. The permaculture site, as the rest of El Paseo Community Garden, is a community managed space maintained by volunteers. Please remember to take proper care and follow the foraging rules. Enjoy your self-guided tour!

The El Paseo Permaculture Site is still an ongoing project. Follow us for volunteer opportunities next year.

Permaculture is a design system that stands for “permanent agriculture.” It is based off of observations of nature and of various indigenous, hunter-gatherer, and farming communities’ relationships with nature throughout the world. The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978. 

Permaculture is based on three ethics: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. We hope that the El Paseo Permaculture Site brings you closer to plant communities of the Midwest and contributes to the “permanent agriculture” of Chicago.

Forager’s Rule of Thumb:

As a community forager, you are a steward of this land. In this site you will be able to find and connect with many native, edible, medicinal, pollinator, and utilitarian plants. As a community we gently remind you to take less than ⅓ of a particular harvest so that collectively we can promote an ecologically sound environment. We are a large insect, animal, bird, and human community.  Please be mindful that we all coexist and limit your harvest of one particular plant so that we may all benefit (including the plant!). This community permaculture site was designed to educate so that you can be equipped with additional information to plant these species in your own backyard/space and more easily identify and engage with them throughout the city.  We hope you learn and enjoy the El Paseo Permaculture Site! 

Plant Library

Plant Identification LegendThe information provided here is for educational purposes only. By harvesting any plants from El Paseo Permaculture Site or utilizing any of the suggestions below, you the individual are taking full responsibility for your health, safety, and wellbeing.  Please consult with your primary care doctor before using any of the suggested information below. This page is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Contact us to add/edit any information. Our library is a work in progress. Plants are labeled with identification signs with icons depicting their uses.

 

Image Name Usage (Edible/Medicinal/Fiber/Dye) Pollinator Info
Paw paw

Asimina triloba

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Paw paw is a delicious native fruit to North America.
Edible: Ripe flesh of the fruit is edible and resembles a creamy custard. Fruit ripens in late fall. 
Medicinal: Suggested potential for using the bark to help reduce swelling (inflammation), fever, and vomiting.
Paw paws naturally produce anti-fungal and pesticidal properties (acetogenin) which ward off pests. There are some insects that have a distinct tie to Paw paws such as the Zebra Swallowtail. Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly (Eurytides marcellus) larva feed exclusively on young paw paw foliage, but in low numbers, therefore not seriously damaging the plant.
American persimmon

Diospyros virginiana

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

American persimmon is native to North America. 
Edible: The ripe orange fruit of  persimmon in edible. Like cultivated, asian persimmons, they are best (sweetest) when fully ripe-mushy with brown spots or left by a sunny windowsill until very soft with brown spots.  
Medicinal: Decoctions of the boiled unripe fruit was used to treat bloody stools. The astringent taste of the unripe fruit tonifies the body. An astringent decoction of the inner bark was also used to treat sore throats or used externally on warts. 
Serviceberry – Juneberry

Amelanchier arborea

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Dye

Serviceberry is a native North American fruit. 
Edibe: Just as the name implies, JUNEberries are ripe for harvest in June. This native shrub can be pruned into a tree. It’s berries taste like a sweet variety of blueberry. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, just like apple seeds, and can cause an upset stomach and reaction when eaten in large amounts. 
The Crow Indians made a dish called balapia with juneberries mixed with other berries. This is eaten during celebrations. 
Dye: Juneberries produce a purple somewhat steadfast natural dye. 
Black Gold Cherry

Prunus avium 

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Edible: This self fertile perennial cherry has a sweet deep purple-red fruit. Good to grow in zones 5-7.
Medicinal: Sweet and tart cherries both contain large amounts of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Tart cherries have been researched for their anti-inflammatory properties which could help reduce joint pain and arthritis. 
This early bloomer is  great for bees! 
Sweet Haven Peach

Prunus persica

Edible  Pollinator

Edible: This dwarf peach may be tiny, but produces some incredibly sweet peaches! Ready for harvest mid-late summer. This early bloomer is  great for bees! 
Gomi Berry

Elaeagnus multiflora

Edible  Pollinator

A deciduous semi-evergreen shrub native to Asia, but a non-invasive close relative to autumn olive.
Edible: the ripe reddish-orange speckled fruit is both tart and sweet. When unripe fruit tastes astringent.
Medicinal: The astringent unripe fruit has been used to aid diarrhea. It has been values as a medicinal plant in Japan and China. 
Fragrant May flowers are loved by bees!
Elderberry

Sambucus nigra var. canadensis

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal  Dye

Elderberry is a medicinal plant native to North America
Edible: The flowers can be harvested to make elderberry wine. 
Medicinal: Elderberry is a well known medicinal plant that has been used in different ways by various cultures and communities. In North America it has been used by Native Americans to treat infections. Egyptians used it as a skin remedy for general complexion and to heal burn wounds. Today, in North America it is widely used as an immune booster during cold and flu season. The berries/seeds should not be eaten raw, rather cooked and the liquid drunk. Ingested raw berries can cause illness.
Dye: The berries produce a beautiful range of color from soft greys to pinks to mauve to purple. 
Other: Native Americans use to carve whistles and ceremonial clappers from the hallows branches.
Birds: Over 50 songbird species are attracted to elderberry, some of which include: Mockingbird, song sparrow, red shafted flicker, american goldfinch, house finch, cedar waxwing, and eastern towhee.
Insects: The fragrant white flowers attract native bees, honey bees, beetles, and syrphid flies which are an important predator for aphids. The hallow stems also serve as homes for Mason bees and Carpenter bees. 
Comfrey

Symphytum officinale

Pollinator  Medicinal

This herbaceous bionutrient accumulator is native to Europe. 
Medicinal: Comfrey has has its fair share of controversy over the years, so we will share topical usages only. 
Be mindful 
Anise Hyssop

Agastache foeniculum

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Edible: Steeped Anise Hyssop leaves have a great licorice like taste that’s great as a tea. 
Medicinal: Anise Hyssop is part of the mint family so has anti inflammatory and cooling properties. HIstorically it has been used as a cough suppressant or for a sore throat. Its antibacterial properties make it a good addition for wound healing salves and poultices. 
Monarchs, honey bees and mason bees are just a few of the pollinators that adore the beautiful Agastache! Definitely a garden favorite for pollinators and people alike. The long blooming flower plumes provide nourishment and pleasing aesthetics for pollinators and humans alike. 
Bee Balm

Monarda fistulosa

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

This is a native Monarda to North America, does well in Chicago.
Edible: The flower petals of Monarda fistulosa can be added to pizzas, salads, sandwiches or any italian dish to add a slight oregano flavor/zing. Its pop of color is a beautiful addition to any dish
Medicinal: Bee balm is within the mint family, therefore contains anti-inflammatory properties that can be utilized during a cold or when experiencing a sore throat. It’s leaves are a carminative meaning it helps relieve digestion, bloating, gas. 
Monarda didyma

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

This is a native Monarda to North America, does well in Chicago.
Edible:The flower petals of Monarda didyma can be added to pizzas, salads, sandwiches or any italian dish to add a slight oregano flavor/zing. Its pop of color is a beautiful addition to any dishMedicinal: Bee balm is within the mint family, therefore contains anti-inflammatory properties that can be utilized during a cold or when experiencing a sore throat. It’s leaves are a carminative meaning it helps relieve digestion, bloating, gas.
Monarda punctata

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

This is a native Monarda to IL
Edible:The flower petals of Monarda didyma can be added to pizzas, salads, sandwiches or any italian dish to add a slight oregano flavor/zing. Its pop of color is a beautiful addition to any dishMedicinal: Bee balm is within the mint family, therefore contains anti-inflammatory properties that can be utilized during a cold or when experiencing a sore throat. It’s leaves are a carminative meaning it helps relieve digestion, bloating, gas.
Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Native  Pollinator  Textile

Fiber:
Wisteria

Wisteria sinensis

Pollinator  Textile

Fiber:
Concord Grape

Vitis labrusca

Edible  Pollinator  Textile

Edible:Fiber:
Red clover

Trifolium pratense

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Edible:Medicinal: 
Dutch White Clover

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Edible:Medicinal: 
Summer Beauty Chive

Allium angulosum

Edible  Pollinator

Calamintha

Calamintha nepeta

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Swamp Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos (palustris)

Native  Pollinator

Sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale

Native   Pollinator

Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias incarnata

Native  Edible  Pollinator

Curly Willow

Salix matsudana

Pollinator  Medicinal

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

Native  Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Rose of Sharon

Hibiscus syriacus

Edible  Pollinator  Medicinal

Nepeta
Salvia
False Blue Indigo
heliopsis helianthoides
Red Currant
Black Currant