plant index

Explanation of Categories.


In many cases, information about medicinal use here is not only entirely second-hand, it is entirely thousandth-hand, plucked from folklore and having no source whose origins aren't utterly obscure. Do not treat this database as an authority on the medicinal use of any plant.

Almost all nut trees will attract squirrels, and most berry-like fruits will attract birds (reducing the yield). Butterflies are attracted to rotting fruit, often moreso than to flowers, so if you feel lazy around harvest time consider yourself a lepidopterist. The presence of a preferred plant won't attract birds and butterflies, in itself: you won't find hermit thrushes in Kansas, or nesting by your pool, no matter how many shelter plants you provide. Plant native species for best results in attracting wildlife. Consult bird and butterfly books for more information.

"Good Bugs" means either bees, or insects that prey on pests. As a general rule, a plant will attract predatory insects if it has shallow flowers, so that access to nectar and pollen doesn't require long, specialized mouthparts.

Miscellaneous Features:

Self-productive species will produce their main food when grown alone. Fruits and nuts that require cross-pollination from another variety to set fruit are not self-productive; they require another plant of a different variety within 100 feet in order to produce; sometimes a species can set fruit by itself but is most productive when cross-pollinated.

A plant which fixes its own nitrogen doesn't need to take it from the soil, and so leaves more for other plants; some make more nitrogen available for nearby plants. These plants often do well in poor soils.

"Seedling" denotes a plant whose seeds will produce plants with good food-quality.

"Pottable" plants will grow in containers; all dwarfs will grow in containers unless otherwise indicated.

Dwarf trees grow from 6 to 15' tall (the latter is called a "semi-dwarf") and can be either genetic or the result of grafting onto a dwarfing rootstock; they usually require less pruning than standards and are much less tolerant of drought.

Trainable plants will accept espaliering or some such thing, and so can be adapted to small spots; any plant available on dwarfing rootstock can be espaliered.

Botanical Name or Latin Name:

Scientific name for the plant: the first word gives the genus, the second the species. Sometimes species are so similar, the whole genus may be treated as one plant (e.g., red & white currants). Sometimes, especially in highly cultivated plants such as the apple, a species will have so many different varieties that relatively few properties apply universally.

Rejects or Prefers:

"Clayey,Loamy,Sandy" refer to soil types. "Acidity,Neutral,Alkalinity" refer to soil pH. Technically, a pH of less than 7 is acidic, greater than 7 is alkaline, but horticultural literature often implies a boundary of about 6.5, perhaps because so few plants prefer a pH above 7. If no preference is given, the plant probably does best with a pH around 6.5. The plant will fruit or live poorly, or not at all, if subjected to any condition listed under "Rejects." For all plants in this stack, the negative effect of frost will be to kill the blossoms and fruit set, rather than to harm the plant; all plants in this stack can survive temperatures down to 15 F after they've established themselves. "Part-shade" means between 3 to 5 hours of direct sun per day during the growing season.


Common afflictions which usually can't be ignored when they occur.

Hardiness Zones:

...refers to the USDA zoning according to probable minimum temperature in an area (zone 10 is represented with a 0 in this database). For example, Oregon's Willamette Valley, has a probable minimum temperature of about 15 F, which the USDA classfies as "Zone 8." Parentheses indicate borderline regions or regions acceptable only to a few varieties. If a particular cultivar is best suited for a range of zones different from the standard for that species, the discrepancy is noted in the cultivar descriptions, and the ideal zones for the variety are given in brackets. I limited this database to plants which are hardy in at least 3 USDA zones.

Plant Type:

"Herbaceous" means "having no woody parts." Many herbs are not herbaceous (e.g., rosemary), and many herbaceous plants are not herbs (e.g., strawberry). However, black is not white and war still isn't peace.


Years after planting by which the plant begins producing crops.


Average height at maturity of an unpruned, undwarfed specimen. Pruning can usually reduce a tree's height 40-50%, and many common fruits have dwarf varieties which grow under 10'. Popular trees, such as apples and pears, are often grafted onto dwarfing rootstock. If you are searching for a small tree, you should search for "dwarfs" in the miscellaneous category as well as by height. Except for the almond, nuts do not come in dwarf varieties.


...for good crop productivity, plant health, and/or ease of harvest.

Chill hours:

Aside from knowing how much cold a plant can stand, it helps to know how much cold it needs. Most plants need a period of winter rest or dormancy, when temperatures are below 45 F. The total number of hours below 45 F that a plant needs is called its "chilling requirement" or "chill hours." Chilling requirement is independent of cold hardiness: a plant may be very hardy and yet need little chilling (e.g., the almond). Once its chill requirements have been met, a plant will resume growth as soon as temperatures exceed 45 F, so low-chill varieties tend to bloom earlier than high-chill varieties, especially in areas with erratic spring weather. This can be bad, since plants are more susceptible to cold-damage when they are growing. When known, I provided the chill requirement in the textual commentary on the plant, under "Cultivation." Chill hours are approximate, and can vary strongly according to microclimate (the north side of your house will have more chill hours than the south side). As a rough guide, figure that zone 8 provides 600-1200 chill hours; zone 9, 400-600; and zone 10, 0-400. Good sources of more accurate information include the US Weather Bureau, the local agricultural extension agent, or a local nursery.

Cultivars of Repute:

Sometimes cultivars differ from the standard for the species in some respect, most often cold-hardiness and chill hours. Such discrepancies are noted in the descriptions of the individual varieties. If a species has many varieties, the varieties may have been developed for specific regions of the country: buy locally when possible. An apple adapted to New England probably won't do well in California. The listings here are by no means all-inclusive.

A "-" means either "not applicable" or "none." A question mark means I don't know and couldn't find out.