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Rare and Hard-to-Find Perennial Seed Sources

Eric Toesnmeier, author of Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles, knows the value of a good seed source. So, to encourage interesting selections for your food (not lawns) garden this summer, I thought I’d post this helpful seed source appendix from Perennial Vegetables.

From the book:

Perennial vegetables can be hard to find. The nurseries and seed companies that stock them are usually small and run by highly dedicated enthusiasts. In some cases only one or two companies in North America offer the species you are looking for. Be prepared for some quirky or technical catalogs—but ones that are chock-full of fascinating plants. Someday perennial vegetables may be available through mainstream companies. While this will help many more people grow them, please don’t forget the pioneering companies and organizations that first made these crops available to you.

During the course of writing this book two of the finest perennial vegetable nurseries—Oregon Exotics and Future Foods—went out of business. This should be a lesson to us all not to hold back on ordering something rare, because it may be very difficult to find it again if a company goes under.

AgroHaitai Ltd.

P.O. Box 78051

Hamilton, Ontario L9C 7N5


(519) 647-2280

Asian vegetables including fragrant spring tree, water spinach, and winged bean.

J. D. Andersen Nursery

2790 Marvinga Ln.

Fallbrook, CA 92028

(949) 361-3652

Tremendous banana selection for California.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

2278 Baker Creek Rd.

Mansfield, MO 65704

(417) 924-8917

Many perennial vegetables including such rarities as ‘Day Length Neutral’ winged beans, green hyacinth beans, and goldenberry.

Bamboo Garden Nursery

1507 Southeast Alder St.

Portland, OR 97214

(503) 647-2700

Hardy bamboos.

Bamboo Headquarters

(866) 293-2925

Excellent selection of bamboos for California.

The Banana Tree

715 Northampton St.

Easton, PA 18042

(610) 253-9589

Specializing in unusual tropical plants including many banana varieties as well as air potato.

Edible Plant Project

Volunteer-run nursery propagating useful perennials adapted to northern Florida. Sales through Gainesville farmers’ market.

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO)

17391 Durrance Rd.

North Fort Myers, FL 33917

(239) 543-3246

ECHO is one of the best sources for tropical perennial vegetables. Their seed company ships anywhere, but unfortunately to get plants from their nursery you need to go there in person. ECHO has a wider selection of rare useful plants that are shipped free to development projects in developing countries, but are not available elsewhere due to limited seed availability.

Evergreen YH Enterprises

P.O. Box 17538

Anaheim, CA 92817

(714) 637-5769

Asian vegetable seeds including many perennials.

Fedco Seeds

P.O. Box 520

Waterville, ME 04903

(207) 873-7333

Sunchokes, shallots, good king Henry, and more.

Florida Bamboo Company

Gainesville, FL

(352) 665-2175

Clumping bamboos for tropical and subtropical Florida. Not mail order.

G&N Ramp Farm

Box 48

Richwood, WV 26261

(304) 846-4235

Specializing in ramps; also offering several booklets on growing and cooking with ramps.

Heronswood Nursery

7530 Northeast 288th St.

Kingston, WA 98346

(360) 297-4172

Fascinating collection, including udo and fuki.

Horus Botanicals

HCR Route 82, Box 29

Salem, AR 72576

Fascinating collection of useful plants, including many rare tropical vegetables.

J. L. Hudson

Star Route 2, Box 337

La Honda, CA 94020

“Native plants from around the world,” including chufa and others. Authors of Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

955 Benton Ave.

Winslow, ME 04901

(207) 861-3900

Wide range of vegetables, including many perennials.

[Ed. Note: Works closely with our author Eliot Coleman, of Four-Season Harvest and The New Organic Grower]

Karchesky Canna Collection

(724) 466-0979

Offering achira (edible canna), which they call “anchiras.”

Lilypons Water Gardens

6800 Lilypons Rd.

P.O. Box 10

Adamstown, MD 21710

(800) 999-5459

Aquatic vegetables like water celery and arrowhead.

Moore Water Gardens

P.O. Box 70

4683 Sunset Rd.

Port Stanley, ON N5L 1J4


(519) 782-4052

Fine selection of edible aquatic plants.

Mountain Gardens

546 Shuford Creek Rd.

Burnesville, NC 28714

(828) 675-5664

Large collection of useful plants.

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

15290 Coleman Valley Rd.

Occidental, CA 95465

(707) 874-1557

Many species adapted to California, including tree collards and Andean root crops. On-site sales only.

Peace Seeds

2385 Southeast Thompson St.

Corvallis, OR 97333

(541) 752-0421

Numerous interesting plants, including achira.

Perennial Pleasures

P.O. Box 147

East Hardwick, VT 05836

(802) 472-5104

Hardy perennials, including a superior skirret clone.

Peters Seed and Research

P.O. Box 1472

Myrtle Creek, OR 97457

(541) 874-2615

They breed their own unique varieties of perennial vegetables including perennial grains and brassicas.

Plant Delights Nursery

9241 Sauls Rd.

Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 772-4794

“Tropicalesque” hardy plants for colder climates.

Pond Plants and More

P.O. Box 155

Bentleyville, PA 15314

(724) 239-6673

Aquatic vegetables including water mimosa and water chestnut.

Richters Herbs

P.O. Box 26

Goodwood, ON LOC 1AO


(905) 640-6677

Fantastic catalog offering many perennial vegetables.

Rivenrock Gardens

c/o John & Vickie Dicus

P.O. Box 196

Nipomo, CA 93444

Specializing in spineless nopale cactus varieties.

Sand Hill Preservation Center

1878 230th St.

Calamus, IA 52729

(563) 246-2299

Many neat crops, including incredible diversity in sweet potato varieties.

Seeds of Diversity Canada

P.O. Box 36, Station Q

Toronto, ON M4T 2L7


(866) 509-SEED

Sea kale, skirret, groundnut, and more.

Seed Savers Exchange

3094 North Winn Rd.

Decorah, IA 52101

(563) 382-5990

Grassroots network of seed savers sharing seeds and plants by mail. The “Miscellaneous” section of their annual yearbook includes many rare perennial vegetables. Joining SSE is highly recommended! SSE also has a much more limited commercial catalog of seed varieties for sale; don’t confuse this with their full listing of thousands of varieties, which is only available to members. Listing an astounding 11,848 varieties in 2006.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

P.O. Box 460

Mineral, VA 23117

(540) 894-9480

Collection of varieties adapted to the hot, humid South, including multiplier onions.

Sow Organic Seed

P.O. Box 527

Williams, OR 97544

(888) 709-7333

Andean tubers and more.

Taro and Ti

Lakeland, FL

(877) 889-5088

Specializing in edible taro varieties including low-oxalate “luau leaf” types needing only minimal cooking.

Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants


P.O. Box 316

Charlottesville, VA 22902

(804) 977-9821

Crops grown by Jefferson, including edible hibiscus and heirloom lima and scarlet runner varieties.

Tripple Brook Farm

37 Middle Rd.

Southampton, MA 01073

(413) 527-4626

Great selection of useful cold-hardy plants, many perennial vegetables.

Underwood Gardens

1414 Zimmerman Rd.

Woodstock, IL 60098

(815) 338-6279

Many interesting plants, including cranberry hibiscus.

USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)

National collection of plant materials for hundreds of crops and thousands of wild crop relatives. Free seeds and plants available for research purposes (including backyard research). Includes rarities like saltbush and earthnut pea.

Van Bourgondien

P.O. Box 1000

Babylon, NY 11702

(800) 622-9997

Source for the day-length-neutral mashua cultivar ‘Ken Aslet’.

Van Engelen Inc.

23 Tulip Dr.

P.O. Box 638

Bantam, CT 06750

(860) 567-8734

Bulk bulb purchases; excellent camass prices.

Agrinom LLC

Box 174, 31–469 Mamalahoa Hwy.

Hakalau, Hawaii 96710

(808) 963 6771

Authors of the excellent Tropical Perennial Vegetable series. On-site sales only.

Fukuda Seed Store, Inc.

1287 Kalani St.

Honolulu, HI 96817

(808) 841-6719

Sole legal source of water spinach seed in the United States.

Gaia Yoga Nursery

RR2 No. 3334

Pahoa, HI 96778

(808) 965-5664

Breadfruit, bamboos, perennial leaf crops, and more.

La‘Akea Gardens

P.O. Box 1071

Pahoa, HI 96778

(808) 443-4076

Permaculture nursery featuring many perennial vegetables.

Agroforestry Research Trust

46 Hunters Moon

Dartington, Totnes

Devon, TQ9 6JT


+44 (0) 1803 840776

Research center with nursery and seed company, featuring useful plants for cool temperate climates.

B&T World Seeds


34210 Aigues-Vives


00 33 (0) 4 68 91 29 63

Unbelievable seed company offering 35,000 listings. If no one else has it, B&T usually does, though it may take them awhile to track it down.

Chiltern Seeds

Bortree Stile


Cumbria LA12 7PB


Many species including good king Henry and sea kale.

Doubleday Research

Heritage Seed Library

c/o Garden Organic

Ryton Organic Gardens


Warwickshire CV8 3LG


Rare seeds available to members, including branching bush kales like ‘Dorbenton’.

Earthcare Enterprises

P.O. Box 500

Maleny, Queensland 4552


07 5499 9599

Great bamboos, achira, taro, cassava, water chestnut, and more.

Herb Garden and Historical Plants Nursery

Pentre Berw, Gaerwen

Anglesey LL60 6LF


01248 422208

Many interesting plants, including saltbush and wild cabbage.

Poyntz field Herb Nursery

Black Isle

By Dingwall IV7 8LX

Ross & Cromarty


+44 (0) 1381 610352

Offerings include sea kale, oca, mashua.

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