We rely on donations from our users to keep maintaining and extending our free-to-use database of over 8000 edible and useful plants. Currently we are also investing time and effort in preparing two new books on plants suitable for food forests in different warmer climate conditions, to complement the one we published in 2021 on temperate food forests, which has been very well received. Please give what you can to help us complete this work. More >>>

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1.The new site looks different does it have the same information
Yes! In June 2016 we moved the main database search to the homepage. The search included a new feature to open and close each section ( see the Food Forest plant search page including a video for an example ). In mid 2018 we upgraded the site design to make it mobile friendly so it can be viewed on phones and tablets easily. As part of a project to expand the PFAF database to include more species for tropical conditions, we concentrated on the 700 plants identified by in the Species Matrix in an appendix to Eric Toensmeier’s book: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security. A new section on the plant search page (homepage) has been added to search these plants (in yellow). We are adding additional educational content pages as the site develops. We have improved the quality of information in the website by adding more plants and information. We would welcome any feedback on plant content if you feel it is incorrect: admin@pfaf.org
2.Why have you chosen these plants and not others?

We have chosen plants that are based on our main focus: Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses. We practise vegan-organic permaculture with emphasis on creating an ecologically sustainable environment based largely on perennial plants. We advocate a style of gardening mimicking a natural woodland system using perennial plants and following vegan organic and ecological principals. Although we have chosen plants that can be grown in a temperate climate many plants can be successfully grown in other climate zones.
3. What are the limitations of the database?
Currently we are focusing on plants that can be grown in a temperate climate. We may develop the database to also include tropical plants later. We may not include some plants as the database is mainly intended for 'useful' plants especially edible or medicinal plants.
4. Can I use your images on my website?

The images in  the database come from many different sources and it was not possible to add all the different copyright conditions for every image (we have over 7000 plants). We have therefore protected the original copyright holders by using a stricter license than some images need. You may be able to find some of these images with a less strict license on the internet, for example Wikipedia Commons The images on the website are licensed under a Creative Commons License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/.  You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work under the following conditions: Attribution  You must give the original author credit, Non-Commercial  You may not use this work for commercial purposes,  and No Derivative Works  You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. Information under the images on the database gives original attribution details which must be included when using an image.
5. What is the Creative Commons?

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses for free to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators.
6. I live in a Mediterranean climate but your database is for temperate plants is it of use for me?

Many plants in the database can be grown in a Mediterranean climate. Please read the information on the plant for more details.
7. Can I use your database to find sub-tropical plants?

Many plants in the database can be grown in a sub-tropical climate. Please read the information on the plant for more details.
8. What does temperate mean?

Temperate climates are those without extremes of temperature and precipitation (rain and snow). The changes between summer and winter are generally invigorating without being frustratingly extreme. There are two types of temperate climate: maritime and continental. The maritime climate is strongly influenced by the oceans, which maintain fairly steady temperatures across the seasons. Since the prevailing winds are westerly in the temperate zones, the western edge of continents in these areas experience most commonly the maritime climate. Such regions include Western Europe, in particular the UK, and western North America at latitudes between 40 and 60° north. Continentality increases inland, with warmer summers and colder winters as the effect of land on heat receipt and loss increases. This is particularly true in North America, where the north-south aligned Rocky Mountains act as a climate barrier to the mild maritime air blowing from the west. Maritime climate, on the other hand, penetrates further into Europe where the major mountain range - the Alps - is orientated east-west. (source: www.ace.mmu.ac.uk/eae/Climate/Older/Temperate_Climate.html)
9. Why do you only list temperate plants?

Britain is in a temperate Zone. We list plants that can be grown in Britain because initially our research project 'The Field' was based there.
10. Is all the information you give correct?
We try to make sure all the information we give is accurate however we cannot guarantee this as our original sources may have had incorrect information. We currently have a group of experts reviewing the website and database for inaccuracies. If you feel information is incorrect or would like to become an 'expert' please email us at: admin@pfaf.org
11. Why do I now need to sign in to make a comment or add a link?

We decided to improve the security of the site and remove the addition of inappropriate comments or links. We also wanted to give website users the option to get more information from us via newsletters.
12. I posted a comment but it did not appear on your site. why?

All comment have to be approved before they are posted on the website. Generally we state: 'If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.
13. What happened to the US database?
We have added increased search functionality to the UK database and no longer felt the US version was necessary
14. How many plants do you have in the database?

We have over 7500 plants
15. Why do you use the Latin name?

Latin names are universal while common names are not. The name of a plant needs to be recognised in many different countries. A common name can refer to a number of different plants and are usually written in the language of a particular country making identification very difficult and confusing.
16. When searching by use I don't understand some of the terms. Why is it so complicated?

You can learn more about these terms by clicking on the link 'Help with these terms' under the Search by Use table.
17. I want to search for a plant with both edible AND medicinal qualities how do i do this?

When selecting properties from the Search by Use table hold down the control key on your keyboard to select more than one property
18. I want to choose a plant between 1m and 5m high. How do I do this?

You can select more than 1 tick box at any one time
19. There are other properties I would like to search for but I can't see them in the database?

If a property is not there it means it is not available on our database. You are welcome to email suggestions on how to improve the website admin@pfaf.org
20. Why do you put the general disclaimer there?
To the best of our knowledge all the information is accurate and true however we cannot guarantee that everyone will react positively to all edible plants or other plant uses.It is important that you accept that no liability exists against Plants for a Future or any member of Plants for a Future, nor can they be held responsible for any allergy, illness or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of information in this catalogue or through using any of the plants mentioned by Plants for a Future.
21. Can I buy the database?

Yes you can buy the database either as a download or on CD ROM. Please visit the shop for more information.
22. What's the difference between a Latin name and a common name

The Latin name is part of a classification system for plants developed by Swedish naturalist Carolus (Carl) Linnaeus (1707-1778). He developed what is known as the binomial system for taxonomy -- in other works, the use of scientific names for plants. "Binomial" means that two words are used for classification purposes. The common name - monikers (or "nicknames") which is easier to understand can be a misleading or inaccurate way of identifying a plant but is still a good way to search for a plant if the Latin name is not known.
23. I can't find a plant by its common name does that mean its not in the database?
A plant may have many different common names and we may not have them all in our database. Try to find the Latin name to see if we have it.
24. I can't find a plant by it's Latin name does that mean it's not in the database?
If you cannot find a plant by it's Latin name we probably don't have it. Make sure you have spelt the words correctly (a common spelling error, for example, is Elaeagnus which is spelt as the incorrect Eleagnus ). You can also do a search by part of the word, for example, search for 'ela' will return all plants that begin with these letters.
25. I want to look for plants for a medical condition how do i do that?

You can either go for the medicinal uses page or search for a plant by it's medicinal use property in the database
26. I would like to add a plant to the database can I do this? NO! But you can make recommendations to us for plants that you think should be added. admin@pfaf.org
27. Is your site only for vegans?
No the site is for anyone who uses plants (think that is all of us!).
28. Why perennials?
Our emphasis is on growing perennial plants with some self-seeding annuals, a large part of the reason for this is the difference in the amount of time and energy it takes to cultivate and harvest crops. Annuals means the cultivation of the ground every year, sowing the seeds, controlling the weeds, adding fertilizers and attempting to control pests and diseases. It all seems so much extra work compared to planting a perennial and waiting to harvest its yield. Especially when you consider that even with all the effort put into growing carrots their yield for the same area of ground will be less than that of a fruit tree and will only last the one season.
29. Who are PFAF?

Plants for a Future are a registered charity; we are compiling a database, which currently consists of approximately 7000 species of plants. We research and provide information on edible and otherwise useful plants suitable for growing outdoors in a temperate climate. There are now 1500 species of edible plants growing at 'The Field' in Cornwall, our base since 1989. The main aims of the charity are researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, promoting a high diversity, holistic and permacultural approach namely 'woodland gardening'. We aim to use a minimal input of resources and energy, create a harmonious eco-system and cause the least possible damage to the environment whilst achieving high productivity.



Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More



© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.