Siberian Pea-shrub
Caragana arborescens Lam.
Family: Fabaceae, Pea
Genus: Caragana
Other names: Siberian peashrub, pea tree
Nomenclature: arborescens = tree like
Nativity / Invasiveness: introduced plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant

General: deciduous large shrub to small tree, up to 5 m tall, typically multistemmed with erect to spreading branches, often with branches and foliage down to the base, from a dense, spreading root system.

Leaves: alternate or whorled, 5-10 cm long, pinnately compound with 8 to 12 leaflets in pairs, without end leaflet, the leaflets about 15-25 mm long, entire, elliptic to broadly oblanceolate with a short point at the tip, short-silky-hairy when young, later almost hairless.

Flowers: one to 4 in bundles from leaf axils, long-stalked, yellow, about 2 cm long. Calyx about 2/5 of the flower length, light green, short-soft-hairy, with short, triangular teeth. Banner folded up on the sides, the wings longer than the keel. May-June.

Fruits: pods, about 3-6 cm long and about 3 mm wide, linear-lanceolate, green and strongly flattened at first, when mature more cylindrical and brownish, opening forcefully with a popping sound.


Roadsides, escaped from cultivation, in s.w. and s.c. parts of MT. Native of Siberia and Manchuria, used for windbreaks. Alkali-tolerant, able to withstand extreme cold and dryness.
Edible Uses

The seeds of Siberian pea-shrub are edible cooked. Small but produced in abundance, there are 4 - 6 seeds per pod. Having a bland flavor, it is best used in spicy dishes. The raw seed has a mild pea-like flavor. The seed contains 12.4% of a fatty oil and up to 36% protein, and it has been recommended as an emergency food for humans. More than just an emergency food, this species has the potential to become a staple crop in areas with continental climates. The young pods can be eaten cooked and used as a vegetable.

Medicinal Uses

The whole plant, known as ning tiao, is used in the treatment of cancer of the breast, and the orifice to the womb, and for dysmenorrhea and other gynecological problems.

Other Uses

A fiber obtained from the bark is used for making cordage. A blue dye is obtained from the leaves. The plant can be grown as a hedge. It is quite wind-resistant and can also be planted in a shelterbelt. The plant has an extensive root system and can be used for erosion control, especially on marginal land. Because of its nitrogen-fixing capacity, it is valued as a soil-improving plant.

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