Chicken Food For Thought: Siberian Pea Tree

Someone recommended growing a Siberian Pea Tree to feed our chickens over the winter (or in case we can’t get feed for them due to the supply chain breakdown) so I decided to look into it and I am so glad I did!

I had never heard of this particular plant but once I started researching it, it didn’t take long to convince me to add it to our chicken pasture.

A member of the pea family (Fabaceae), the Siberian pea tree, Caragana arborescens, is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to Siberia and Manchuria. Introduced into the United States, the Siberian pea tree, otherwise known as Caragana pea tree, attains heights of between 10 to 15 feet (3-4.5 m.) tall, some up to 20 feet (6 m.) tall. It is composed of alternate 3- to 5-inch (7.5-12.5 cm.) long leaves made up of eight to 12 oval leaflets with yellow snapdragon-shaped blooms appearing in early spring and forming pods in late June or early July. Seeds are spread as the ripening pods burst with a resounding pop.

The Siberian pea tree has been used medicinally while some ethnic groups eat the young pods, use the bark for fiber, and render an azure-colored dye from its leaves. During WWII, Siberian peasants supposedly overwintered their poultry flocks by feeding them the seeds of Caragana pea trees, which wildlife enjoy as well. The erect to almost weeping habit of the pea tree lends itself well to planting Caragana as windbreaks, in borders, screen plantings, and as flowering hedges.

It grows quite tall, is super hardy in all different zones (2-8 here in the USA) as well as tolerant of drought, alkaline or acidic soil and doesn’t care if it’s sunny or shady. The peas themselves have 36% protein, the plants are nitrogen fixers and their flowers attract lots of pollinators, too.

And it can feed your flock (and even your family) if SHTF!

So yeah, I’m sold.

In fact, I ordered a thousand seeds so I can grow some for us and some to sell this year.

Here are a few photos I found of it:

Something to note, however, is that if you live in Minnesota it is considered a noxious weed because they are invasive there, but that’s not the case here in Idaho and may not be where you live, either. So double check before planting.

I can’t wait to see how these babies work out for us and I can’t wait to share them with my community.

While we already grow a lot of fodder in their pasture during the spring, summer and fall, knowing I can possibly feed Fred and all my girls through winter sure would give me peace of mind!

6 thoughts on “Chicken Food For Thought: Siberian Pea Tree

  1. We’ve got caragana growing in a few places in our yard (zone 3). I remember liking them as a kid, when hearing the pods snap and fling their seeds all over! Only recently have I heard of their other name, and that they’re good for chickens. We had chickens when I was a kid, but their coop was not near any caragana trees, so I have no idea how they would have liked the seeds. I’m quite curious about it now, as we are planning to have our own chickens at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome, if they can grow there then I’m sure they will grow here. Do they reseed and grow new ones? I’m a little worried about planting them too close to the neighbor’s fence if they are going to throw seeds on their property and grow.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, they don’t sucker much at all; I think our zone 3 just doesn’t allow for that. As for the seeds… while I was cleaning up the trees, I did see little ones, but considering how many seeds they throw out, and how far, they really aren’t spreading much at all. I considered that they are planted under larger trees and not getting a lot of direct sunlight, but I’ve seen them growing in other areas with much more ideal conditions, and they basically just made a really good hedge and were good for erosion protection on a rather steep hillside.


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