- Written by Kevin R. Lee Kevin R. Lee
- Published: 19 January 2020 19 January 2020
The caraganas, sometimes called the Siberian pea tree in the prairies, are an extremely hardy group of shrubs that were first used across the prairies as shelter belt understorey.
They were also planted in long rows in fields to create a structure that would collect snow for greater water retention. The shelter belt variety is known as Caragana arborescens, or the common caragana. It forms a large full shrub; old ones can be five metres high and the individual branches 10 centimetres wide at the base. Back in the day, they were used to make large hedges Because of their general unruliness, sucker growth and wide dispersal from seed, we rarely see this planting any more. All caraganas have bright yellow flowers, and except the globe, all have sharp little thorns.
Three other varieties of Caragana arborescens are handsome garden plants. Lorbergii, the fern leaf caragana, is a feathery leafed tall shrub that has a distinct foliage that helps to mix up the garden. It is susceptible to splitting.
Caragana arborescens 'Walker' is a weeping form, very attractive. Watch out for suckers growing from below the graft. They are the common caragana, which is used as hardy root stock.
The Sutherland, Caragana arborescens 'Sutherland', is an extreme columnar form with multiple weak included bark crotches that easily split. Most people who have them have kept them held together with bungee cords. It grows to six metres plus , tall and narrow. Because of the splitting, it is not recommended.
Another caragana is the pygmy, Caragana pygmaea, with small narrow leaves, yellow flowers and lots of little spines. This shrub grows to about one metre high, and makes a good free form border planted as a hedge.
Another species is Caragana frutex 'Globosa, the globe caragana. It grows to about a metre, spineless and compact, a good shrub.