Posted by & filed under Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, News, Plant Systems, Trees.

by Daniel Halsey

The database is working very well and I encourage all permaculture designers to try it out. Especially the spreadsheet download. Let me know if you would like free access for a time to try it out.

The Natural Capital™ Plant Database is a repository of plant information for ecological design. Our partner designers have combined the best sources of plant research and documentation in order to provide the highest integrity for a wide variety of users. Whether you are a first-time gardener or an experienced permaculture designer, we hope you find the information you need to take your knowledge of plants and ecological systems to the next level. We use citations from multiple sources and provide detail on plant characteristics, tolerances and behaviors, ecological functions, human uses, concerns, and plant associates.

The Natural Capital™ Plant Database provides a variety of design tools from searching for plants based on selected criteria to creating ecological analogs. Downloadable query spreadsheets are formatted on most of the screens with all the information needed for sorting and refining plant choices.

The success of carefully designed plant systems is fairly predictable, but plants vary in size and growth rates based on numerous environmental factors. Check with local growers, nurseries, and institutions for the best species, cultivars, and management practices for your area. Source your plant materials locally or from growers at the same latitude, zone, and climate.

Comments and links to new sources for plant data are always appreciated.

Further Reading:

11 Responses to “The Natural Capital Plant Database”

  1. Geoff Capper


    Plants for a Future ( have been at this for 20 years, are struggling to get support, and it’s all offered for free as a charity for the betterment of humanity.

    I appreciate that resilience comes through diversity, but that shouldn’t be at the loss of the value of concerted effort toward a common goal.

    • Tiago Simões

      Exactly, and there’s also, who have imported PFAF’s database and converted it into a free Wiki format.
      I don’t have anything against this project at all! But I do think that this particular “wheel” has already been invented (in the form of both these older sites), and while neither might be spinning very fast, they have for years helped, and continue to help, permaculture designers for free.

    • Daniel Halsey

      Hi Geoff,
      This is not a competition. Their information is free and so is ours at the same capacity. Our model adds a more designer oriented delivery, this takes time and money to produce and even though we have been doing it for only tens years, I do not see that as relevant. It is how the information is delivered. If you want a narrative or a spreadsheet plant list, you have a choice. I value diversity and especially in multiple resources to attain the information. We are trying to deliver formats for scientifically based and ecologically functional systems. I appreciate all comments, feedback, and look forward to making improvements for our paid subscriber designers and free public users.

  2. fixie

    Must we monetize EVERYTHING?
    Usually I don’t begrudge others wanting to make a living from something good. Here I feel I’ve already payed my government to acquire the data/knowledge, and you want me to pay again? “plant research and documentation” already belongs to me and everyone else. Even the name of your venture suggests ownership and dominion. I will take and copy while I can, thank you.

  3. Peter

    Hi Daniel
    I would be interested in having a look.
    Would be great if you could arrange that.
    Thank you

    • Daniel Halsey

      Hi Peter,
      Send me a message from the site and I will set up a trial time for you. I will also send you a list of site conditions you will need to know in order to customize the plant lists to your site. Our plant lists are site and functionally specific to your goals. Check out or my profile on for design examples.

  4. Frederic Scholl

    I’d be curious to be able to measure how much this new “product” actually owes to the fabulous pfaf, practical plants and university works without saying it.

    Daniel, “how the information is delivered”, is about packaging something that you don’t own.

    The business plan of this new venture sounds a bit thin and synonymous of the old era to me.

    I’ll pass.


  5. Daniel Halsey

    It is a surprise to me how many people feel we “stole” or copied the information from PFAF. We support PFAF, one of our main allies, with dollars. The assumption is we are in competition. We are not and cite them in our narrative plant pages where referenced, other than that we add information to fill the void for designers (like us) needing more details. Our focus is polyculture design and the tools to do that. Polycultures are site and niche specific. On our site you can build a polyculture with associated ecological functions. Since 2006.

  6. AnnaJ

    Wow. Some pretty strong statements above. The database looks to me to be filling a niche and if you don’t have a use for it, that’s fine. I too appreciate free online resources, but they aren’t always in the most usable format for me.

    I am a professional gardener and occasional landscape designer who is passionate about permaculture and I have been struggling to adapt the info I’ve found on and and many other websites (and dozens of books) to a spreadsheet where I can quickly and efficiently come up with solutions for myself and my clients.

    Natural Capital’s database looks like it might be very helpful for me, and then again it might not, so I’m going to check it out. If I can avoid reinventing the wheel it would definitely worth *gasp* paying for. :-)


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