There is no such thing as a botanical definition for permaculture plants. I'm not sure it's an official term at all.
When I talk about permaculture plants, then I mean plants that are popular in permaculture designs because they support our goal of sustainable gardening.
They help us create a garden that needs little outside resources, a thriving garden that looks after itself, and ultimately, after us.
Tomatoes are popular with any gardeners, including permaculture gardeners, but I would not call them a permaculture plant.
Rather, permaculture plants are really useful perennial plants, often with multiple functions, plants that improve your soil and the overall health and stability of the little ecosystem that is your garden.
On top of that the plants in this section may be unusual edibles, medicinal plants, fodder plants...
And of course it depends on how you use a plant in the garden. In a way any vegetable, fruit or herb can become a permaculture plant, once you discover its multiple functions and actually put them to use.
For now I want to focus on the more unusual plants, the ones that conventional gardeners would not think of planting in their vegetable plots.
The plants used in permaculture designs usually have one or several of the following characteristics:
That are just some examples, and probably the most typical uses for what I call permaculture plants. But as I noted above, there are many other ways permaculture plants can benefit the system. Unusual edible plants, plants that make good animal fodder, wild food plants, medicinal plants...
(Ever heard of neem trees? Now there's a multiple uses plant...)
They could all be called permaculture plants. In this section we focus on the plants that are good for your soil and for your other plants, because that's the foundation of a healthy thriving permaculture garden. However, you will see that many of the plants have additional uses.
Let's look at some plants and how they are used in permaculture designs: