The website is in 3 main sections: Database Plant Uses and Research. In addition there is a shop, forum and blog. More information on these sections is given below:
In the database section of the website you can search for plants using a number of search techniques:
- search by name
- search by keyword
- you can browse plants common and Latin names by alphabetical letter
- you can browse plants by their family, habitat and use (medicinal, edible or other)
- you can search a plant by it use, for example whether it can be used for:
edible: e.g. coffee, chocolate, gelatine, oil
medicinal e.g. acrid, antacid, antibiotic, kidney
other e.g. alcohol. beads, bottles, fencing, fuel
special uses e.g. nitrogen fixer, hedge
We recommend you read the information pages: Before You Start, FAQs, Design Tips, and How to Use The Database
You can do a more detailed search using the Search Properties section. This allows you to search for a number of plant features at once. For example you might want to search for a plant that needs light sandy soil, that is between 1m and 5m high and that likes shade. The database will find plants that have all 3 of these features. Go..
Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses and this is reflected in the way the website is organized. The Plant Uses section gives a wide variety of uses for plants including their medicinal and edible qualities as well as other uses for example, building materials, dyes, paints, inks and paper or clothing. In many cases this information is supported by the database with direct links to relevant plants.
In this section you can also find the web page 'Top 20 Plants'. This page includes some of our favourite plants that we feel are so good they deserve an article all to themselves for example, Allium, Cornus and Viola. The page also has top rated plants for edibility and medicinal uses. The plants are rated by use through our research and experience and all have either a top rating of 5 apples for edibility or 5 hearts for medicinal use. The edibility and medicinal use rating is applied to all plants in our database and will give you an idea how useful these plants may be to you. Towards the bottom of the page you will find the top 50 plants that users of the website have viewed.
The Successful Plants page is a new feature to the website and contains the results of a rating system from the database. Each plant can now be rated by you on how successful you found the plant to be. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Woodland Gardening. This page focuses on woodland gardening over large cultivated fields. Woodlands tend to receive no intervention but produces lush growth and diversity of plants and animals. There are additional links to Woodland Gardening Plants, Woodland Edge Gardening, Pioneer Species - that are good to help develop a woodland, and an article on Robert Hart's Forest Garden which inspired the whole PFAF concept.
Vegan organics. The section on vegan organic horticulture highlights the method of growing plants without the use of chemical fertilizers, sprays etc and without using any animal products (except those obtained from humans). It is a system of caring for the soil in a sustainable way to ensure it retains its fertility for future generations. It is a method of growing plants that works in harmony with nature, encouraging a wide diversity of plant and animal life to share the land with us.
Perennial Plants. Our emphasis at PFAF is using perennial plants. Here we explain the reason we have chosen perennials over other plant types.
Habitats. The last section on habitats looks at what plants you can use for different habitats. The habitats range from meadows to woodland, and from a shady edge to sunny spot. This section is linked to the database so is a great starting point to research a particular habitat that you may have. Go..
The charity Plants for a Future owns a 28 acre piece of land in Cornwall that was purchased as a place to demonstrate the many uses of plants with a very strong emphasis on perennial species. It is run by a small group of volunteers. In this section you can find information on the research we are doing and a recent site survey. Go..