Tropical Permaculture Plant List

Trip Start Jan 14, 2014
Trip End Mar 16, 2014

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Thursday, February 20, 2014

   We recently visited a great little permaculture garden at a secondary school for girls which was planted and maintained by Miguel and Carlos. If you are in Kafountine and want to visit this garden, ask for help at the Kaya pizza restaurant. It is about 10 minutes walk south from Chez Paul restaurant. In the pictures from this garden, I am trying to highlight the raised beds built of coppice wood. There are also sunken beds for starting seeds in the dry season. Paths are mulched with sawdust. The garden is about two acres and is only half planted at one year old. All trees are coppiced and managed intensively. There is even an olive tree.
   Miguel was a great resource to talk with. Many people visit the garden, locals and foreigners, and discuss with him their relationships with the various plants. This blog post is inspired by this visit and our travels with Frank Cook around the world seeking plants and healers (see Frank's books/notes at
   Below I will list plants of the region that I feel deserve notice. I will continue to update this post as new plants come to my attention. Most of these plants range throughout the Earth's tropical belt. I cannot list all their uses here, but recommend finding them in life and in books and getting to know them. These are the plants that sustained humanity it its infancy, and continue to sustain Africa and the world. Please feel free to add to this list by mentioning more tropical plants in the comments section.
   Recommended books: 
Botany in a Day by Thomas Epel (This book will teach you to identify most common plant families of the world by flower.)
Trees of Southern Africa by van Wyk and van Wyk (The diversity of trees [and birds] on this continent is astounding.)
Permaculture: A Designer's Manuel by Bill Mollison

   Palms* (ArecaceaeWell over 2600 species in some 202 genera worldwide) nuts/fruits include dates, coconuts, koni (wolof), meat and water, various oils, palm wine ferments in the tree which is tapped, palm hearts, leaves - important fencing material here, wood, mulches
   Baobab (Malvaceae, genus Adansonia) giant trees throughout Africa, juice made from the fruit is a favorite snack for children
   Mango* (Anacardiaceae, genus Mangifera) same family as poison ivy, may cause alergies, a truly enormous tree
   Cashew* (Anacardiaceae, genus Anacardium) roasted like chestnuts here
   Citrus* (Rutaceae, About 160 genera, totaling over 1600 species in the Rue family)
   Tamarind (Fabaceae, Tamrindus indica)
   Acacia (Fabaceae) about 1300 species worldwide
   Avocado (Lauraceae, Persea americana) same family as laurel, cinnamon, camphor
   Papaya* (Caricaceae, Carica papaya)
   Moringa* (Moringaceae) locally know as nevadie because it can be copiously coppiced without harm, and likely because its leaves and seeds are miracle super foods
   Mangroves (Rhizophoraceae, genus Rhizophora, but see
   Ficus (Moraceae, genus Ficus) 850 species worldwide including figs, local giant varieties are true giants among giants
   Neem (Meliaceae, genus Azadirachta)
   Coffee* (Rubiaceae, Coffea robusta, arabica)
   Tea* (various)
   Guinea Pepper (Annonaceae, Xylopia aethiopica) key ingredient of Cafe Touba (Senegalese coffee), roasted with the coffee beans
   Banana*, Plantain* (Musaceae, genus Musa)
   Eucalyptus (Myrtaceae) fast growing

Herbs and other
   Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) about 2000 species worldwide, used here for fencing as it is poisonous and not eaten by livestock, milky latex can cause blindness if it gets in your eyeCassava* (manioc, tapioca), a staple here, is also in this family
   Bamboo (Poaceae [grass family]) Around 92 genera and 5,000 species of bamboo worldwide; here I'll note Corn*, Millet*, Sorghum for Poaceae family
   Buddha plant (Asteraceae, Gynura procumbens?) superfood groundcover and diabetes cure
   Stone breaker (Saxifragaceae) Saxifrage, about 460 known species in 36 genera worldwide, breaks up kidney stones
   Stevia (Asteraceae) 240 species of stevia worldwide
   Basil, Thyme, Oregano - wild everywhere here, Rosemary (Lamiaceae)
   Peanut* (Fabaceae, Arachis hypogaea)
   Tomato*, Eggplant*, Habanero*, Potato, Tobacco (Solanaceae)
   Cucumber, Melons (Cucurbitaceae)
   Garlic*, Onions* (Amaryllidaceae, genus Allium)
   Carrot*, Parsley* (Apiaceae)
   Cabbage*, Collards (Brassicaceae)
* staple food of Senegal

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Erika on

Good list! Learned a new term: coppicing. Cool!

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