2.4: Plants for Edible Landscapes - Biology

2.4: Plants for Edible Landscapes - Biology

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  • Describe plants suitable for edible landscapes.

As part of green infrastructure, gardening for food production offers a wide range of environmental, economic, and social benefits. Growing local food within and around communities supports:

  • habitat for pollinators and biodiversity,
  • regulation of local climate and water management,
  • reduction of energy use and carbon footprints,
  • food security and local economy, and
  • physical health and social connections.

Urban agriculture is the process of growing, processing, and distributing local food and food products. There are many types of urban agriculture including community gardens, boulevard planting, green roofs, vertical farms, urban chickens, bee keeping, aquaculture, and small scale faming for farmers markets. Some other forms of food production are edible landscapes, food forests, urban orchards, gleaning (public land harvest), grow a row donations and backyard sharing, and guerrilla gardening. Figure 10.1 shows an example of products of urban agriculture available for purchase at a farmers market. Read more about the benefits and different types of urban agriculture at this link to The Urban Farmer [New Tab][1]

Figure 10.1 Example of urban agriculture products for sale at a farmers market stall

Communities plan and manage urban agriculture through policies, zoning bylaws, and land use regulations that allow certain public green spaces to be used for growing food. For example, community gardens for non-commercial food production that are allowed in some or all land use designations will have guidelines for safety, accessibility, maintenance, and aesthetics. Read about an example of jurisdictional policy and regulations for community gardens available at this link to City of Victoria Community Gardens Policy[PDF][New Tab].[2]

Food production in residential landscapes is commonly associated with vegetable plots in backyards. Annual species grown for produce are usually arranged in agricultural patterns of straight lines in designated areas. Soil is often amended with compost, heavily irrigated, and seasonally tilled over for new planting. In contrast, edible landscapes, sometimes called foodscapes, incorporate plants for food as well as ornamental value within existing and new residential and public landscape designs. In general, plants for edible landscapes are herbaceous and woody perennial species that:

  • are adapted for the climate and naturally resistant to pest and disease,
  • require less intensive or similar levels of maintenance and inputs as the rest of the planting area, and
  • provide multiple benefits such as food, aesthetics, shading, and water management.

Plants selected for preferred foods and the attributes of form, texture, and colour are integrated with other ornamental plants to achieve a desired garden style and aesthetic appearance. For example, the fruit producing tree, Morus alba ‘Pendula’ (weeping mulberry) serves as a specimen plant with distinctive form. Shrubs with berries and vibrant autumn foliage colour like Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) may be planted as hedging. Edible spreaders like Fragaria x ananassa (garden strawberry) and Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) provide ground cover while vegetables with fine texture foliage like Daucus carota ssp. sativus (carrot) contrast coarse texture plants like Rheum palmatum (rhubarb). Aromatic herbs such as Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ and Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) provide structure, scent, and visual interest alongside edible flowers like Impatiens walleriana (impatiens) and Phlox paniculata (summer phlox, border phlox). Learn more information about the origins, benefits, maintenance, and types of plants for edible landscapes available at this link to Foodscaping-Wikipedia [New Tab][3]

Practice: Recognize plants for edible landscapes.

An interactive or media element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:

An interactive or media element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:

Techniques that maximize space use and vegetation cover such as interplanting larger, slow growing food plants with smaller, fast growing plants reduce soil erosion and suppress opportunistic weeds. Combining plants with different heights and structure, nutrient requirements, and rooting depths creates growing microclimates and reduces plant competition for soil nutrients. Certain companion plants such as members of the Fabaceae (pea) family that fix atmospheric nitrogen in available forms in root nodules can benefit nearby nitrogen feeders like leafy vegetables. Aromatic herbs can be used to repel pests attracted to other species by smell, and the deliberate planting of host plants distract pests from other plants and attract beneficial insects and predators that feed on pests. Read more information about the benefits of companion planting available at this link to Companion planting – Wikipedia [New Tab][4].

Edible landscapes that are intended to provide food products for human consumption are distinguished from planted habitats that are intended to attract wildlife. As areas of natural ecosystems are converted to residential, agricultural, industrial, and other uses, the loss of habitat negatively impacts native wildlife. However, where fragments or patches of habitat are not too small and are close together, they can be connected by corridors of vegetation that allow native species to access adequate food, water, shelter and protection. Planting regional native plants that mimic the habitat characteristics of the desired wildlife species in landscapes and gardens can provide the particular needs for food, water, shelter and protection.

Creating connections between native and ornamental vegetation and water sources in urban forests, parks, gardens, boulevards, and other plantings allows wildlife to move safely among habitat patches in urban areas. For example, evergreen trees like Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar) with branches close to the ground and deciduous trees with open canopies and multiple branches such as Frangula purshiana (cascara), and Prunus padus var. commutata (European bird cherry) offer shelter and protection, as well as nesting sites and food. Interplanting layers of shrubs like Ribes alpinum (alpine currant), Ribes sanguineum (flowering currant, winter currant), and Rubus spectabilis (salmonberry) with herbaceous species like Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Asarum caudatum (western wild ginger), and Polystichum munitum (western sword fern) provides a range of wildlife species with food, shelter, and protection. Review images of plant examples at this link to KPU Plant Database [New Tab][5]w Tab]. Learn more about gardening for wildlife habitat available at this link to Fraser Valley Conservancy Native Plants Guide[PDF][New Tab][6]

Habitat loss and invasive species are major threats to wildlife habitats, particularly in wetlands and forests. Selecting ornamental plants for habitat planting includes examining the potential for species to escape, establish, and overtake natural ecosystems. Non-invasive ornamentals and regional native plants are the responsible alternative to invasive plants. For example, an introduced horticultural plant that has become invasive in wetlands is Butomus umbellatus (flowering rush). Alternate choices for this plant include the native species Scirpus microcarpus (small-flowered bulrush), Carex spp. (sedges), and Sagittaria latifolia (wapato, arrowhead). Alternate choices for another invasive, Euphorbia esula (green spurge, leafy spurge) include species in the genera Delosperma (ice plant) and Helianthemum (rock rose). Species in the genera Salvia (sage), and Penstemon (beardtongue) provide alternate choices for the invasive species, Echium vulgare (blueweed). Another invasive species, Linaria vulgaris (toadflax) can be replaced with selections from the genera Penstemon (beardtongue), Hemerocallis (daylily), Antirrhinum (snapdragon), and Kniphofia (torch lily). Learn more about the threat of invasive horticultural plants and alternative plant choices at this link to Invasive Species Council of BC Grow Me Instead[PDF][New Tab][7]

Practice: Name the invasive species. Move the cursor over the image to check your response.

An interactive or media element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:

2.4: Plants for Edible Landscapes - Biology

What is 2,4-D?

2,4-D is an herbicide that kills plants by changing the way certain cells grow. 2,4-D comes in several chemical forms, including salts, esters, and an acid form. The toxicity of 2,4-D depends on its form. The form also affects what will happen to 2,4-D in the environment and what impacts it may have, especially on fish. 2,4-D is used in many products to control weeds, and it is often mixed with other herbicides in these products.

2,4-D was first used in the United States in the 1940s. Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War, contained both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Dioxin, a by-product of 2,4,5-T, led to the ban of Agent Orange.

What are some products that contain 2,4-D?

Products containing 2,4-D may be liquids, dusts, or granules. The liquid forms may be concentrated or ready-to-use. There are over a thousand products with 2,4-D in them that are sold in the United States.

Always follow label instructions and take steps to avoid exposure. If any exposures occur, be sure to follow the First Aid instructions on the product label carefully. For additional treatment advice, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you wish to discuss a pesticide problem, please call 1-800-858-7378.

How does 2,4-D work?

2,4-D kills broadleaf weeds but not most grasses. 2,4-D kills plants by causing the cells in the tissues that carry water and nutrients to divide and grow without stopping. Herbicides that act this way are called auxin-type herbicides.

How might I be exposed to 2,4-D?

Products with 2,4-D may be used on farms, home lawns, roadsides, industrial areas, and pastures. You may be exposed if you are applying 2,4-D and you get it on your skin, breathe it in, or eat or smoke afterwards without washing your hands. You also may be exposed if you touch plants that are still wet with spray. You can limit exposure by following the label carefully if you are using products that contain 2,4-D. You can also stay away from grass or plants that have been treated until the leaves are dry.

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to 2,4-D?

Pure 2,4-D is low in toxicity if eaten, inhaled, or if it contacts the skin, and some forms are low in toxicity to the eyes. However, the acid and salt forms of 2,4- D can cause severe eye irritation. People who drank products containing 2,4- D vomited, had diarrhea, headaches, and were confused or aggressive. Some people also had kidney failure and skeletal muscle damage. People who spilled 2,4-D on their skin developed skin irritation. Breathing 2,4-D vapors can cause coughing, a burning feeling in the airway, and dizziness.

Pets may be exposed to 2,4-D if they touch grass or other plants still wet from spraying and then groom their feet or fur, if they drink the pesticide, or possibly if they eat grass that has been treated with 2,4-D. Dogs may be more sensitive to 2,4-D than other animals. Dogs and cats that ate or drank products with 2,4-D in them developed vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, staggering, or convulsions. See the fact sheet on Pets and Pesticide Use for more information.

What happens to 2,4-D when it enters the body?

In humans, 2,4-D is not absorbed well through the skin or lungs, but it is absorbed into the body if swallowed. Sunscreen, insect repellents, and drinking alcohol may increase how much 2,4-D is absorbed through the skin. Once inside, 2,4-D moves throughout the body but does not build up in any tissues. The human body gets rid of most of the 2,4-D in the urine without changing it into anything else. More than 75% of the absorbed 2,4-D leaves the body in the first 4 days after exposure.

Is 2,4-D likely to contribute to the development of cancer?

Scientists have not found a clear link between 2,4-D and cancer in people. Because 2,4-D is often mixed with other herbicides, it is difficult to tell if 2,4-D or one of the other herbicides might be linked to cancer. Some studies have suggested that there may be links between non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and exposure to 2,4-D by itself, but other studies have not found any evidence of this.

In 2004, the EPA decided that 2,4-D could not be classified with regard to its ability to cause cancer because there was not enough data.

Has anyone studied non-cancer effects from long-term exposure to 2,4-D?

Animals fed high doses of 2,4-D for several weeks sometimes had fewer young or the young did not have normal skeletons. This only happened if the amount of 2,4-D fed to the mothers was enough to affect the mothers. 2,4-D has not been linked to health problems in human mothers or infants.

Are children more sensitive to 2,4-D than adults?

While children may be especially sensitive to pesticides compared to adults, there are currently no data to conclude that children have increased sensitivity specifically to 2,4-D.

What happens to 2,4-D in the environment?

2,4-D goes through different changes in the environment depending on its form. Most of the time, 2,4-D breaks down in soil so that half of the original amount is gone in 1-14 days. This breakdown time is called the "half-life" of the pesticide. One form of 2,4-D, the butoxyethyl ester, had a much longer half-life in aquatic sediment of 186 days.

2,4-D is broken down by bacteria in water and in soil. Water alone can also break down 2,4-D. 2,4-D has been found at low levels in shallow groundwater and streams in both rural and urban areas.

Can 2,4-D affect birds, fish, or other wildlife?

How 2,4-D affects animals and plants depends on the form of 2,4-D. Some of the ester forms of 2,4-D can be very toxic to fish and other aquatic life. The salt forms may be only slightly toxic to aquatic animals. Aquatic animals are more sensitive to 2,4-D as water temperature rises. 2,4-D may be moderately toxic to practically non-toxic to birds if they eat it. Eggs sprayed with 2,4-D still hatched and the chicks were normal. 2,4-D is practically non-toxic to honeybees. It is not expected to be a hazard to other beneficial insects.

8 Surefire Vegetables and Herbs for Beginning Gardeners

For gardeners, poring over the pages of a seed catalog can be a feast for the eyes. Whether it’s heirloom crookneck squash or ‘Green Zebra’ tomatoes, the seed varieties available to home gardeners rival any farmers market. Similarly, going to a nursery and seeing row upon row of baby tomato, lettuce and kale plants can make it hard to decide where to start. What’s a backyard food grower to do?

By growing a small selection of carefully chosen crops, you will give yourself the best opportunity for success. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to grow just five types of vegetables rather than 15. Over time, you’ll learn which crops and varieties work best for your microclimate, taste and lifestyle.

Here are some of the best vegetables and herbs for gardeners of all types, including beginners. In addition to being easy to grow and productive, many of these crops are well-suited to growing in small spaces.

Start with favorite vegetables that you regularly buy from the grocery store. If you’re a big fan of kale salads, be sure to plant kale. Radishes are very easy to grow and look gorgeous, but if you’re not a fan of eating them, don’t grow them.

Sweet potatoes and peanuts are popular crops in the American South, but they rarely succeed in northern climates. However, tender greens like spinach thrive in cool environments. To find vegetables that suit your growing region, look for local seed companies, check out what’s being grown in farmers markets and ask neighbors what they’re growing. Find out your area’s average first and last frost dates these will provide an essential guideline for when to plant seeds.

Your garden space will also inform what you can grow. If your space is small, choose plants with a small footprint. Zucchini can grow in a large container, but their huge, sprawling leaves may take up the better part of a balcony garden.

Few things in life rival the flavor of a fresh snap pea right off the vine. Because the sugars in this crop degrade quickly, snap peas truly taste better when grown at home. With their vertical growth, peas don’t take up much room — just be sure to set up a trellis and train them rigorously, as the vines can get unruly. Peas are a cool-season crop and are planted directly into the soil as seeds in late winter or early spring in most areas.

Tip: Use a pea inoculant (a powder that acts like a probiotic for peas and beans) at the time of planting to ensure success. Look for varieties that are resistant to pea enation mosaic virus and powdery mildew.

When to plant: Sow seeds about four to six weeks before the average last frost date in spring. In mild-winter climates, peas can also be planted in the fall sow seeds two to three months before the first expected frost date.

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade provide afternoon shade in hot climates.

Cheery, colorful radishes are some of the first vegetables gardeners can harvest in the spring. This attractive cool-season plant grows quickly and takes up little room, making it an ideal choice for small-space gardeners. Don’t know what to do with radishes? For a classic French dish, slice them raw (wash and scrub well to remove soil) and serve with salt and butter. The leaves are also edible and can make a good substitute for cooked spinach.

When to plant: Sow seeds two to three weeks before the average last frost date in spring, and in late summer four to six weeks before the average first fall frost. Continue sowing seeds every two weeks in both spring and fall.

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

Want your own supply of peppermint tea? It’s as easy as growing a peppermint plant. This perennial herb grows so vigorously that it should always be planted in containers — otherwise, it may take over your entire garden. Keep your mint tidy with regular trimming, or allow it to go to flower and attract tons of bees. This hard-to-kill plant is a great choice for apartment gardeners.

When to plant: Purchase seedlings from a garden supply store, or ask a friend to dig up a section of his or her plant. Plant seedlings in early spring, or in the fall in warm-winter climates.

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

See how to grow mint

Snipped chives taste delicious on eggs, pasta — just about everything. In grocery stores, they can be difficult to find and expensive, but in gardens, they’re incredibly easy to grow. This perennial herb has a long harvest season and will come back year after year if you plant it in nice rich soil. Try growing them in a large pot right outside your kitchen window. Harvest chives by simply giving them a “haircut” with kitchen scissors as needed.

When to plant: Purchase seedlings from a garden supply store, or start seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before the average last frost date. Plant seedlings in the early spring. Chives are perennials and take several years to reach their full size, so harvest lightly until your plants are well-established.

Light requirement: Full sun

The word “mesclun” comes from the Proven ç al word for “mixture.” In gardening terms, mesclun is a combination of seeds that are planted together to create a ready-made baby salad featuring a variety of colors, flavors and textures. The result is similar to the packaged salad mixes you can find in grocery stores, but far more fresh and exciting. Seed catalogs often have a variety of mesclun mixes to choose from, typically featuring arugula, mustard greens and lettuce.

Tip: To achieve success with mescluns, sow seeds thinly (about one seed per square half-inch). Plant some each week and harvest leaves with scissors as soon as they look ready.

When to plant: Plant a little mesclun every one to two weeks from early spring to early summer. In mild-winter climates, plant again from late summer to mid-fall. Water well and protect from hot temperatures.

Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade

See how to grow salad greens

This popular low-maintenance green is a must for many gardeners. If you’re growing kale in containers, sow seeds similarly to mesclun mixes and harvest the baby greens. In raised beds with rich soil, many varieties will grow more than 6 feet tall. Choose your kale variety according to your climate and season. ‘Lacinato’ kale, also called dinosaur kale, is a Mediterranean plant that does well in the summer or in warm environments. Curly Scotch kale and tender Siberian kale are great winter crops that can tolerate frost.

When to plant: Sow seeds in early to midsummer for fall and winter harvest. For a summer harvest, plant seeds in spring two weeks to a month before the last frost date.

Light requirement: Full sun provide afternoon shade in very hot climates.

Tomatoes are one of the most rewarding crops to grow in a home garden. If you’re a new gardener, start with a classic disease-resistant cherry tomato like ‘Sweet Million’. Be sure to build a trellis for the long vines, and plant them in a sunny spot where they can be protected from rain. Cherry tomatoes are an ideal choice for container gardens.

When to plant: Set out starts or nursery plants when the soil is warm and there’s no danger of frost. Start seeds indoors five to eight weeks before your planned planting date.

Light requirement: Full sun

Get ready, because once your zucchini plants start producing, it’ll be hard to keep up with them. Zucchini are famous for producing more food than most people can handle. Check your plants every day or two, and harvest them as soon as they’re a little over a foot long (bigger fruits can get tough and stringy). Zucchini are great in baking and popular as a low-carb pasta substitute. Just make sure that you have enough space in your garden for this sprawling plant.

When to plant: Sow seeds about two weeks after the last frost date when soil temperatures reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). You can start seeds indoors about one week before that date.

Light requirement: Full sun

By choosing a small selection of crops that you enjoy eating, and that are suited to your growing environment, you’ll set yourself up for a fun and successful gardening experience. Enjoy the process of learning which plants work best for you.

Conclusion and Prospect

Presently, in managing the spreading epidemic, efforts should include normalizing the control of infection. Providing convincing and promising protective dietary components for people might be a strategy for preventing COVID-19. Evidence from available data, literature analysis, and in silico studies indicated that some bioactive compounds from edible and herbal plants are potentially protective against SARS-CoV-2 infection. These compounds are associated with antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, and organ protection via cooperating multiple targets and pathways using various components ( Figure 3 ). However, a limitation of the application of natural products in preventing and treating COVID-19 is due to our current understanding of the action mechanisms is mainly predictive using molecular docking and network pharmacology analysis. The active constituents, potential targets, and pathways predicted in these studies are not always consistent. Rigorous animal studies and trials on people are needed to verify these predictions. In this study, we reviewed the anti-inflammatory and immune-regulatory effects of the compounds predicted to possess a strong ability to target SARS-CoV-2 in experimental studies. Our research provides scientific evidence for their potency in the prevention and management of COVID-19. In conclusion, many dietary components with low toxicity and are easily available, such as flavonoids, acetoside, glyasperin, isorhamnetin, and ginger are promising candidates for the development of food supplements or functional foods for the prevention and management of COVID-19.

The treatment strategy for COVID-19 by using natural products. There are different drugs (list in orange color) acting on specific target for the treatment of COVID-19. The edible and medicinal plants have multiple compounds that targeting on multiple pathways to against virus infection including anti-viral, reducing cytokine storm, immuno-regulation and organ protection.


  1. Molabar

    Release me from it.

  2. Cynn

    Rather amusing information

  3. Kazisho

    It is simply amazing :)

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