Rare and Hard-to-Find Perennial Seed Sources

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2008 at 10:46 am by admin

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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