View Full Version : Permculture plant guilds
10-04-2010, 02:49 AM
I'm not sure if this is the right place for this thread, but...here it is.
I am still very green in permaculture and I'm reading and hearing a lot about plant guilds. Now I would like to know if their is some list or so about the different guilds. I live in namiobia, Southern Africa, and would like to know if someone can help me with this. Thankx!!:)
10-04-2010, 04:28 PM
There's not a lot of ready made info on guilds. And it's a problem searching online because too many permie groups have called themselves guilds, so you get them in search results.
hmmm, maybe we need to start a Group here for guilds and build up a data base. Anyone up for that?
10-04-2010, 04:31 PM
Sounds like a plan pebble. A lot of it really comes down to companion planting but I still think it is worth people putting in 'guilds' they have created and have worked for them.
12-04-2010, 08:57 PM
would be really nice. If anyone living in southern africa has plant guilds that are working, please let us know!!!
15-04-2010, 11:15 PM
I've seen references to plant families, which I think are the same thing as plant guilds, so angiosperms are flowering plants, some of which are Amborellaceae, Nymphaeales, Austrobaileyales
Mesangiospermae. gymnosperms are a group of seed-bearing plants that includes conifers, cycads, Ginkgo and Gnetales. So it's these kinds of classifications the guilds are referring to. It still would simplify down to companion plants, but maybe knowing these larger categories allows for more mixing and matching?
Here's a chart: http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/ggpages/topics/tree.jpg
16-04-2010, 06:26 AM
It seems to me, sweetpea, that the chart shows similar plants - plants that do the same job, namely provide grain. where as families talked about by Sepp and used in guilds are plants that are varied and support each others growth. A guild plant that I always use when planting fruit trees is lavender - which when grown near to the trunk of the tree deters the borer. Another is yarrow which, in the first instance makes the lavender more smelly and secondally supports the health of the tree. It is a good ground cover too. Garlic chives work to reduce fungal problems and tansy reduces insect attack. These are the things I look for in guilds and call them families. But is this the point of this thread or am I missing the mark?
16-04-2010, 10:13 AM
I reckon right on the Mark Purple Pear ;-)
They're good examples
'Plant Guilds'- a set of plants that have beneficial relationships that support each other.
they can be looked at in terms of plant type.
eg for a border - a broadleaf, a grass,
you could use one thats done a lot like Comfrey/lemongrass,
often that example is seen as 'gospel' rather than just a grass and a broadleaf.
it could be Vetiver and chicory or Sugarcane and Cocoyam or Sorghum and Sunflower
every species added seems to exponentially increase complexity and stability, yet its always changing...by the minute
A fruit tree, a legume, a herb, a groundcover.
that could be Jackfruit, crotalaria, sweetleaf, sweet potato or any of numerous combinations for the climate and site
other things to take into consideration are:-
*Plant life duration- annual, biennial , short lived Perrenial, or long lived
*seasonal patterns- herbacious perrenial, evergreen, deciduous
*timing- when any of the seasonal life cycle events happen.
*Shaping/pruining tolerance- in order to steer the guild to maximise yield for human use (can generally only a fraction of the ecological processes/ services)
*root type- fleshiness, depth, spread
*soil/ root symbionts (ecto- or endomycorrhizae, rhizobia, actinorrhizae etc) some of these organisms as well as increasing effective root area and serve as the 'external immune system' for the plants , have been shown to exchange nutrients between plants even those not botanically related to one another.
*plant animal relationships - insect pollinators refuge, additional food sources at pollination times, food sources for adult stage predators eg. Apiaceous (Umbelliferous) flowers as food source for say, lacewings etc.
there would be more things to consider, but this will turn into another mammoth post.
It's just a matter of observing , analysing and trying different combinations and see how they go.
and develop the ones that work well.
there are some great Native food plants in Southern Africa that you could work into guilds with non natives
Marula (Sclerocarya birrea)
Gemsbok bean , Marama bean (Tylosema esculentum)
mongongo nut, Maniketti tree (Schinziophyton rautanenii)
Mahobohobo (Uapaca kirkiana)
khorixas tree, mustard tree (Salvadora persica)
I'd be interested to see what people come up with.
Also, there are known combinations that dont work too.
Apple and Walnut are an example.
Walnut will make an Apple really sick and prone to pest attack.
16-04-2010, 07:26 PM
I find that the concept of "Guilds" is best served by the definition - an harmonious interaction of the elements.
As such I like to include habitat as well as plantings that support beneficial animals and of course water and/or micro-climate adaptation.
Apricots and tomatoes do not like each other so it seems.
16-04-2010, 10:08 PM
Yes, it's a harmonious interaction among plants, it's just that the technical approach on Holzer's diagram is based on taxonomic classifications., and that identifies the categories from which to choose the companion plants. Using your example of lavender as a deterrent, it helps to know that all lavenders belong to the genus Lavandula of the family Labiatae that include the thymes, basils, sages and rosemary. So it follows that if lavender doesn't grow well under some conditions, we can pull another related plant that will help in the same way. It's not just from observing, there are inherited, chemical traits that are present.
But not all plants want to be next to a plant with aromatic oils. My tomatoes hate lemon balm. Lemon balm is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, (Melissa officinalis) and so it would follow that tomatoes don't want to be near anything in the Lamiaceae family, so keep away catnip and spearmint as well. And it also follows that all solanums (not just tomatoes) don't want to be near something from the mint family, and that includes peppers and potatoes . So it's less of a hit and miss association.
It also helps to understand the mechanism by which the plants are doing what they do. Mints provide something very different chemically than the Labiatae family. And knowing why plants are companions or not is also very helpful :)
16-04-2010, 10:50 PM
Lamiaceae and Labiatae are synonyms, not different families i.e. lavender, rosemary, basil etc are part of that family as well as the mints.
I think permaculture and other disciplines use the term 'guild' somewhat differently.
2. Ecology A group of diverse species, especially animal species, that occupy a common niche in a given community, characterized by exploitation of environmental resources in the same way.
17-04-2010, 02:40 AM
pebble, that's interesting. The book I have has Labiatae as distinct, but looking it up now they have changed the name to Lamiacaea. And those plants are more closely related, but to know that they are in that classification is still a heads up as to whether to consider them as companion plants. Just because we like the smell, or somebody says it keeps away flea beetles, doesn't mean the other plants will like them, or that their root exchange will be beneficial. So why guess when these categories have already been established?
And it's just another option to go by taxonomic categories. I understand that Permaculture and most of gardening uses common names for plants, (like carnation instead of dianthus) but those can be misleading. You might get much better results from lavandula augustifolia rather than lavandula pinnata, but what we say to each other is "Use lavender," when we really need more specifics..
But the diagrams I have seen regarding companion plants can be based on the taxonomic categories, and that alerts us to whole groups of plants to use in a specific situation, which gives us more choices.
But we can talk plant Family ----> SubFamily-----> Tribe------> SubTribe-------->Genus-------->species----->variety-------->cultivar------->common name
...and still see the relationship among those groups, that tells us the *why* of it. And there is a huge leap from Family to common name, and that's where we lose information as casual gardeners. But whether guilds are using common names or taxonomic categories, they are still referring to companion planting, who gets along with whom.
I haven't wanted to get this deep into it all, just like I didn't want to get into soil chemistry, but I keep coming up against it, and there are benefits to using the classifications that are agreed upon so we understand why it's working, that it's based upon something very known and tangible. :)
Powered by vBulletin™ Version 4.1.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.